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JK Rowling and Stephen King express horror at Salman Rushdie stabbing – but in Iran the attack draws some praise

The stabbing of author Sir Salman Rushdie has shocked and horrified fellow writers and world leaders, with many praising him as a defender of free speech.

The 75-year-old remains on a ventilator after being airlifted to hospital and undergoing hours of surgery following the attack in New York state.

And while messages of support have been pouring in for the Indian-born British author from many countries, in Iran – where the book The Satanic Verses has drawn death threats – some praised the attack.

Fellow novelist Ian McEwan said: “This appalling attack on my dear friend Salman represents an assault on freedom of thought and speech.

“These are the freedoms that underpin all our rights and liberties. Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world.”

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Why is Salman Rushdie so controversial?

Melvyn Bragg, Ian McEwan Sir Salman Rushdie poses at Sir Salman Rushdie Book Launch Party at the The Collection on Friday September 14, 2012 in London. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP)
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Ian McEwan and Sir Salman Rushdie

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JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author, called the news “horrifying”.

“Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok”, she added on Twitter.

Norwegian William Nygaard, who was shot and severely wounded in 1993 after publishing Sir Salman’s work, said: “He is a leading author who has meant so much to literature, and he had found a good life in the United States.”

Multimillion-selling horror writer Stephen King tweeted: “I hope Salman Rushdie is okay,” before adding “What kind of ***hat stabs a writer, anyway? F*****!”

Boris Johnson said: “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.

“We are all hoping he is okay.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Shocked and appalled to hear of the unprovoked and senseless attack on Sir Salman Rushdie.

“Freedom of expression is a value we hold dear and attempts to undermine it must not be tolerated. My thoughts are with Sir Salman and his family.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said on Twitter: “The horrific attack on Salman Rushdie in New York is appalling beyond words. I wish him well at this terrible time . This violence is an attack on free speech and can never be the answer. His assailant must be brought swiftly to justice.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey added: “The attack on Salman Rushdie was an absolute outrage. I sincerely hope he pulls through and my thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his friends.”

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism… His battle is ours, a universal one.”

Children’s author Michael Rosen said on Twitter: “Rushdie. Horrific. Wishing him recovery and a peaceful life. Total condemnation for the deed and the spirit and politics behind it.”

Comedian and author David Baddiel tweeted: “It’s appalling what has happened to Salman Rushdie. It’s also appalling that there are people who will think he brought it on himself or somehow deserved it.”

And Nigella Lawson said: “Such shocking news of Salman Rushdie having been stabbed. This is horrific. Am distraught. Please, please let him be ok.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling.

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Salman Rushdie ‘spent decades speaking truth to power’

“All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.”

And Suzanne Nossel, of free expression group Pen America, said: “While we do not know the origins or motives of this attack, all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for legitimising this assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting to readers.”

In Iran, there has been no official comment from the regime – but several hardline Iranian newspapers praised the attack.

Thousands protesting in Tehran in 1989 over the publication of Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses. Pic: AP
Image:
Thousands protesting in Tehran in 1989 over the publication of The Satanic Verses. Pic: AP

“A thousand bravos … to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York,” said the Kayhan newspaper.

“The hand of the man who tore the neck of God’s enemy must be kissed”.

Another publication, the Khorasan daily, carried the headline: “Satan on the way to hell”.

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