World leaders condemn attack on Salman Rushdie

Lapid placed blame for the assault on Iran, while Biden reaffirmed Americans' right to free speech.

British author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London, April 15, 2008. (photo credit: REUTERS/DYLAN MARTINEZ/FILE PHOTO)
British author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London, April 15, 2008.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DYLAN MARTINEZ/FILE PHOTO)

Various world leaders have condemned the stabbing attack on novelist Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday. 

The Indian-born author spent years in hiding after Iran's then-premier Ayatollah Khomeini issued an order in 1989 to kill him for alleged blasphemy in his book The Satanic Verses. He was stabbed in the neck and torso on stage at a lecture on Friday and was rushed into several hours of surgery. Afterward, he was put on a ventilator and unable to speak, and by Saturday he was still considered to be in serious condition.

for 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism... His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side."

French President Emmanuel Macron

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid placed blame for the assault on Iran, calling it the "result of decades of incitement" by the country.

"The attack on Salman Rushdie is an attack on our freedoms and values," the prime minister tweeted. "It is the result of decades of incitement led by the extremist regime in Tehran."

Lapid wished Rushdie a full and speedy recovery on behalf of the people of Israel.

Author Salman Rushdie arrives for the PEN New England's Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, US, September 19, 2016. (credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER/FILE PHOTO)Author Salman Rushdie arrives for the PEN New England's Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, US, September 19, 2016. (credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER/FILE PHOTO)

US responds to attack

“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden did not mention Iran but instead offered his wishes for Rushdie's speedy recovery and thanked those who aided the author and apprehended his attacker.

“Jill and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Salman Rushdie yesterday in New York,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday. “We, together with all Americans and people around the world, are praying for his health and recovery. I am grateful to the first responders and the brave individuals who jumped into action to render aid to Rushdie and subdue the attacker.”

Biden commended Rushdie for his commitment to truth and his unyielding courage in facing death threats, and praised the right to free speech.

“Salman Rushdie – with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced – stands for essential, universal ideals,” he said.

“Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan added his voice to the US officials sending support, calling the attack appalling, and saying he was praying for Rushdie's speedy recovery.

Europe and the UK on Rushdie

French President Emmanuel Macron also tweeted to offer his condolences and to condemn the attack, saying that "for 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side."

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday that he "strongly" condemns the attack on Rushdie.

"International rejection of such criminal actions, which violate fundamental rights and freedoms, is the only path towards a better and more peaceful world," Borrell tweeted.

Also reacting to the events, Rishi Sunak, one of two candidates seeking to become Britain's next prime minister, said that the Friday attack should serve as a wake-up call to the West over Iran, the Sunday Telegraph reported.