Bosnia’s PEN Center strongly condemned the attack on famous writer Salman Rushdie, expressing hope for the complete recovery of a “friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
Rushdie was stabbed on Friday by a man on stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in New York. The suspect is in custody.
Rushdie was meanwhile taken off a ventilator but remains in the hospital with serious injuries.
“We are horrified by the news of the famous Anglo-Indian writer and former president of American PEN Salman Rushdie being brutally attacked two days ago in New York. PEN Centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina strongly condemns this cruel attack committed by Hadi Matar on August 12, 2022 at the Chautauqua Institute in New York,” the PEN Center BiH said.
The statement says Rushdie was “the victim of an infamous attack on freedom of speech over the publication of “The Satanic Verses” (1988), when the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death, forcing him into hiding for many years.”
“As members of the international PEN community, we commit ourselves to fighting against racial, class and national hatred, and defend the ideal of a single humanity living in a single world in peace. Therefore, we hereby offer words of support and hope for the complete recovery of respected writer and friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Salman Rushdie,” it said.
The PEN Center cited Rushdie’s text from 1994, “Bosnia on my mind”:
“I have never been to Sarajevo, but I feel that I belong to it, in a way. I am proud to be an honorary member of the PEN club of ex-Yugoslavian writers, and I hope they will not think me presumptuous if I say that as a result of this newly-forged connection I, too, can claim to be, in some sense, an exile from Sarajevo, even though it is a city I do not know. There is a Sarajevo of the mind, an imagined Sarajevo whose ruination and torment exiles us all. That Sarajevo represents something like an ideal; a city in which the values of pluralism, tolerance and coexistence have created a unique and resilient culture. In that Sarajevo there actually exists that secularist Islam for which so many people are fighting elsewhere in the world. The people of that Sarajevo do not define themselves by faith or tribe, but simply, and honourably, as citizens. If that city is lost, then we are all its refugees. If the culture of Sarajevo dies, then we are all its orphans.”