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An attack on freedom of expression that should worry us all

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We’re told that without heroes, we’ll never know how far we can go. Salman Rushdie has been the focus of world attention since 1988, when then-Supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa denouncing his novel The Satanic Verses as blasphemous against Islam.

Since then, Rushdie has been a fearless freedom fighter for writers’ right to express themselves.

His weapons were his wit, his courage and his pen, which he used every day to demonstrate how much mightier he was than the sword.

The fact that he is hospitalized in critical condition with life-changing injuries says a lot about the darkness in our world.

That this should happen to someone who has devoted his entire life to literature that affirms the sanctity of life reinforces the injustice.

The Indian-born author was fearless in maintaining his position on the front line between oppressive powers and those who dare tell them the truth. The only superpower he could count on was his own imagination.

US President Joe Biden has rightly lauded the “universal ideals” of truth, courage and resilience embodied by Rushdie and his work.

“These are the building blocks of any free and open society,” he added.

Rushdie’s life probably would not have been saved without the quick intervention of a state trooper.

Free speech advocates around the world are outraged by the attack.

Novelist Margaret Atwood said the act of violence against Rushdie was “another attack on democratic values”.

“We like to say that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. The attack on Rushdie is certainly a call to increase our vigilance,” she added.

Following the attack, Ben Okri, a Booker Prize-winning colleague of Mr Rushdie’s, also lamented how the world had become less tolerant of nuance and disagreement.

In an increasingly polarized and uncompromising world, the right to disagree or dissent is under increasing threat.

Iran’s intolerance to secularism and ruthless suppression of the opposition in Russia show how the shadow of tyranny poses a constant threat to basic human rights.

But our societies rely on freedom of expression to protect themselves from the worst atrocities governments can unleash.

It has been said that the average man or woman doesn’t want to be free – they just want to be safe. However, if societies don’t have safe places for artists like Salman Rushdie, they won’t be.

The news from his son that Rushdie is “on the road to recovery,” with his sense of humor, will be of great comfort to his family and millions of followers.

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/an-attack-on-free-speech-that-should-disturb-us-all-41911515.html An attack on freedom of expression that should worry us all

Fry Electronics Team

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