Quebec writers respond to attack on author Salman Rushdie, calling the stabbing appalling and arguing freedom of expression is under threat.
Rushdie’s stabbing in upstate New York was unexpected for Montreal author Mariam Pal, who spent part of Sunday afternoon signing copies of her new book Ballet Is Not For Muslim Girls.
“Because I hadn’t thought of him in that regard for a few years,” she said, “because the whole fatwah seemed to have died down.”
His 1988 book Satanic Verses was considered blasphemous by many Muslims, and the Iranian leader at the time issued an edict in 1989 calling for the author’s death.
Although Rushdie has returned to a reasonably normal life after years in hiding, Friday’s attack came as no surprise to Quebec author Louise Penny.
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“He’s lived with this threat for so long and the fact of the matter is the environment that we live in is so divided,” she told Global News.
Some writers believe that voicing an opinion is now dangerous, not just for writers.
“I find it very sad,” Pal said, “and I find it part of a whole movement in a world that seems to be moving towards a reactionary approach.”
According to Montreal playwright Rahul Varma, the reason is that not enough people are listening to each other.
“There’s a concentration of extremism, both left and right, that’s basically stifling the right mindset,” he explained, “so we’re living in a very bad time right now.”
Though Penny said she wasn’t afraid for her safety, she admitted she took a pause before publicly saying she bought Satanic Verses and other books from Rushdie after the attack.
“It’s sad that you have to think, ‘Should I click buy? Will there be a backlash, will I be attacked?’ ‘ said the acclaimed writer. “I mean, we just saw that JK Rowling was threatened with life just because she said she hopes Salman Rushdie is okay.”
However, she emphasizes that silence is not the answer.
“Silence is as much an enemy as a gun and a knife,” Penny said, “and now is the time to speak up. I have the last words of the poet Seamus Heaney, who said to his wife on his deathbed, “Noli timere,” meaning fear not. And I think now is the time to remember that none of us are afraid.”
https://globalnews.ca/news/9059808/quebec-writers-react-to-salman-rushdie-attack/ Quebec writers respond to Salman Rushdie attack – Montreal