Humanists UK has reacted with shock and sadness at the news of the attack on its patron and acclaimed author Sir Salman Rushdie whilst giving a speech in New York state.
Mr Rushdie, 75, a well-renowned defender of freedom of thought and speech, was forced into hiding for close to a decade after his 1988 book, The Satanic Verses, after Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death.
He is reported to have been stabbed while delivering a lecture at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK said:
‘Everyone at Humanists UK is shocked to hear about the attack on our friend and patron Salman Rushdie.
‘Whilst at present, details are scarce, given that he has been a high-profile advocate for freedom of expression, and someone who has lived under death threats for years, we are concerned this could be the motivation.
‘Salman raises his voice for freedom of expression, for humanism, and for human rights. He has been under threat for many decades by violent extremists, who want to silence his voice because they have no rational answer to these values.
‘Attacks on artists and thinkers strike at the heart of an open and democratic society and should be opposed by all people of good will, whatever their beliefs.
‘We condemn this attack on Salman and our thoughts are with him and his family.’
Mr Rushdie has been taken to hospital by helicopter. No further details have yet to be released.
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Press Manager, Rob Pett, on 07534 248 596.
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.