Opinion: I witnessed the horrific assault on Salman Rushdie, a person who lives at risk and chooses to thrive

A couple of minutes later, Rushdie and Henry Reese stroll the stage, prepared to debate America as a refuge for exiled writers and different artists as a part of the Chautauqua lecture sequence. The viewers will get up and claps. I understand that Rushdie will likely be sitting together with his again to me, so I transfer to get a greater view, beginning on an empty seat within the third row from the center aisle as the 2 take their seats.

Earlier than I get my take, although, a person leaps onto the stage, hating two legs, hitting Rushdie with lightning pace. The author wakes up and retreats to flee him, however his black swimsuit and polished sneakers are unprepared for youth in trainers, head wrapped like a ninja, a cyclone of nameless fury.

Rushdie bends and turns however the knife is relentless, the hand elevating and falling repeatedly, escaping from the palms of the creator and people who are trying to intervene. The group, gathered on a platform the place civil discourse has been practiced for greater than 130 years, froze not in concern however in shock. Looks like ages later, nevertheless it was solely seconds later that I discover out, the attacker is taken down by some males and a state trooper. Rushdie and Reese have each fallen. Blood swimming pools on stage. A person runs as much as me, filming the chaos on his telephone.

“These should not good days for freedom. In case you look around the globe, you see that freedom, the thought of ​​freedom that includes a way of carelessness, appears to be retreating all over the place, surrounded by weapons and bombs,” Mr. Rushdie advised an viewers at Emory College in 2015.
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How ironic that his assailant passes via tree-lined streets, the place youngsters run till the peephole from the bell tower reminds them that it’s time for dinner, the place bicycles should not locked and purses are sometimes money. returned with . It is a place the place individuals let their guards down, solely very simply. That is a part of the allure, however we will certainly sort out it within the days to return.

The group is generally silent, cannot do something however cries, nonetheless do not. The attacker is lastly buried, and the police canine stands over him. I’m wondering if it is horrifying to take an image of the stage in the meanwhile. However the ghost is already right here, I resolve. Rushdie remains to be mendacity on his again; Somebody has taken his sneakers off his ft and lined them up neatly subsequent to him, ready for him to place them on once more. Nobody else can.

I am unable to get again on my bike to maneuver round, so I stroll house. Sirens shout.

By about midday, The New York Instances reported that Rushdie was stab within the throat, one other eyewitness mentioned that he nonetheless had a pulse earlier than being taken to the hospital. I’m amazed and relieved that he survived. When Iran’s Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini referred to as for his loss of life in 1989, the creator went into hiding, however continued to put in writing his complicated and zany books. He says that he must write to outlive, or his desires will go loopy quick. Whereas ready for the information, I’m wondering how rather more a dream might be madder than this, extra a nightmare than a fairy story.

Texts pouring in: “Are you there?” “Is it true?” A pal advised me that she had attended a dinner with Rushdie in February, and he or she remembers saying that she was certain that someplace, she would discover it. Who knew that would occur on this utopian summer season neighborhood, which tries to fight variations on this planet via dialogue. The phrases had no match at the moment.

Later within the afternoon, Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wyllie, report she is in surgical procedure However there is no such thing as a different replace.
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Rushdie famously mentioned, “What’s freedom of expression? With out the liberty to offend, it ceases to exist.” In Manhattan, the place he now lives, he usually seems in public with out safety. “Oh, I’ve to reside my life,” he advised an interviewer final 12 months.

I start to re-read Rushdie’s writings, noting how he seeks to show that our variations don’t outline us, a thread via my very own work. In his phrases: “This can be the curse of mankind. It’s not that we’re completely different from one another, however that we’re alike.”

keep in mind the phobia

“Are you okay?” The textual content sequence reads. “Probably not,” I reply. We meet, hug, stroll the streets lined with new autumn leaves, documenting emergency automobiles, crime scene tapes.

Wherever we go, individuals collect on the porch, refresh the information on their telephones, ready to listen to about Rushdie’s situation. It’s a attractive day, with the solar nearly falling golden that casts a protracted shadow. Like 9/11, we are saying. We’ll all keep in mind the place we have been on today.

Hours later, Rushdie remains to be in surgical procedure. The world is ready. Know the identify of his attacker. He purchased a gate go for the grounds of the Chautauqua Establishment.

There I’m in a video posted on Twitter, standing in entrance of the assault in a striped shirt on my telephone. I keep in mind dialing 911. I did not know what else to do. I understand that I nonetheless do not.

That evening, his agent says he’s out of surgical procedure, however “the information shouldn’t be good.” He’s on ventilator. His hand nerves are damaged, his liver has been stabbed and broken. And he’s more likely to lose one eye. Is that this actually a civilized world? After I consider the horror of today, I consider selecting to reside and thrive with this hazard. It is a alternative all of us need to make now. Pray – or no matter gesture you make to your Lord – for Him. pray for peace. Pray for all of us.

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