Nine months after the attack, Salman Rushdie reappears in public

“Terrorism should not terrorize us”. This is the message sent by Salman Rushdie, who reappeared publicly Thursday evening for the first time since the knife attack that almost cost him his life last August. The British writer was present at a gala for a writers’ defense organization in New York. The famous novelist of Indian origin, naturalized American, received an honorary award from the defense group for freedom of expression and literature, PEN America, of which he was president.

The 75-year-old intellectual, wearing glasses with a black lens over his right eye, was first photographed on the red carpet at the American Museum of Natural History near Central Park in Manhattan. His presence had not been announced and he spoke, moved, to the 700 guests of the gala. PEN America, an association that works for freedom of expression, has never been so “important”, said Salman Rushdie, quoted in a press release by PEN America. “Violence should not deter us. The struggle continues,” he proclaimed in French, Spanish and English.

“I owe them my life”

On August 12, he was invited to a literary conference in Chautauqua, a small town in northwestern New York State, near Great Lake Erie. At the time of speaking, a young American of Lebanese origin suspected of being sympathizers with Shiite Iran had thrown himself on him, armed with a knife, and had stabbed him a dozen times.

Spectators and guards had then mastered the assailant immediately arrested, charged and imprisoned since pending trial. “If it hadn’t been for these people, I certainly wouldn’t be here today. I was the target that day, but they were heroes (…) I owe them my life, ”said Salman Rushdie.

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Post-traumatic stress

His literary agent, Andrew Wylie, revealed in October that he had lost the sight of one eye and the use of one hand. In February, when his latest novel was released Victory City, the writer told the magazine The New Yorkerin his first interview since his stroke, having a hard time writing and suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Adored by the elites in the West, hated by Muslim extremists in Iran or Pakistan, Salman Rushdie is an icon of freedom of expression. He lives since 1989 under the death threat of a fatwa issued by Iran, after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses.

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