LONDON (AP) – Writer Salman Rushdie has delivered a public speech nine months after his death stabbed and badly injured on stage and warned that freedom of expression in the West faces the greatest threat in his life.
Rushdie delivered a video message to the British Book Awards, where he was presented with the Freedom to Publish award on Monday night.
Organizers said the honor was “a recognition of the determination of authors, publishers and booksellers to take a stand against intolerance despite the ongoing threats they face.”
He said: “I believe we live in a time when freedom of expression and freedom of publication has never been threatened more severely in the countries of the West.”
“Now I’m sitting here in the US watching the extraordinary attack on children’s libraries and books in schools,” he said. “The attack on the very idea of libraries themselves. It’s extremely alarming and we need to be very aware of it and fight it very hard.”
Rushdie, 75, was blind in one eye and sustained nerve damage to his hand when he was assaulted at a literary festival in upstate New York in August.
Be suspected attackerHadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to assault and attempted murder charges.
Rushdie spent years under police protection after Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, in 1989 calling for his death for the alleged blasphemy of the novel The Satanic Verses.
In his speech, Rushdie also criticized publishers who are altering decades-old books in favor of modern sensibilities, such as through large-scale cuts and rewrites of the works of children’s author Roald Dahl and James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
He said publishers should allow books “to come to us from their time and be from their time”.
“And if that’s hard to take, don’t read it, read another book,” he said.