‘Stand With Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write’ was hosted on August 19 by the Literary and advocacy group PEN America, which Rushdie had helmed as President, his publisher Penguin Random House, the New York Public Library, and House of SpeakEasy. It was a special solidarity event that brought together authors, activists, and friends in support of Rushdie.
Authors, writers, artists, and members of the literary community, including Tina Brown, Kiran Desai, Aasif Mandvi, and Reginald Dwayne Betts read from some of Rushdie’s most celebrated works and wished the 75-year-old Booker Prize winner a speedy recovery.
PEN said through the event, that writers from around the world stand in solidarity with Rushdie and “celebrate his tireless advocacy for the freedom of expression and the plight of imperiled writers around the globe.”
“When a would-be murderer punched a knife to Salman Rushdie’s neck, he pierced more than just the flesh of a renowned writer. He sliced through time, jolting all of us to recognize that horror of the past is haunting the present,” CEO of PEN America Suzanne Nossel said at the start of the event.
She added that Rushdie has been “a constant, indefatigable champion of words and writers attacked for the purported crime of their work. Today, we will celebrate Salman for what he has endured, but even more importantly, because of what he has engendered — the stories, characters, metaphors, and images he has given to the world.”
Furthermore, Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, said in a statement that “Rushdie’s voice and literary works are inextricably tied to the advancement of freedom of expression, and the attack on him is a horrifying and unconscionable act of violence.”
“It is our honor to publish Salman’s prolific works, and to stand with him and the entire literary community as we remind the world of the power—and necessity—of the written word,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and stomach onstage in front of a stunned audience by 24-year-old New Jersey man Hadi Matar before the ‘Satanic Verses’ author was about to speak at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He was airlifted to a local trauma center and put on a ventilator and underwent several hours of surgery. Matar was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in Chautauqua County jail.
With inputs from PTI