Salman Rushdie, Irreverence and Complexes of All Kinds

During a visit to Bombay in 2004, Rushdie received death threats from several protesters. (VISHAL OLWE/EFE)

14ymedio bigger14medio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 14 August 2022 — He is balanced between life and death but the official Cuban press has hardly said a word. He is an enemy of the Iranian regime and that is enough for Havana to remain silent in the face of the attack that has seriously injured a writer who uses metaphor and his extensive knowledge of history as tools to connect with millions of readers. He is the irreverent child of every party, the one who throws the cake in the face of the strict organizer of the fake festivity.

Years ago Rushdie was the subject of a fatwa, pronounced by Iranian clerics, who sentenced him to death for blasphemy. If any inhabitant of this Island was asked what such a curse means, they probably could not explain much beyond some clumsy babbling. Our mestizo and insular roots may have saved us from certain religious extremes, but we are no strangers to judging sectarianism. We may not be immersed in certain debates, but common sense suggests that exterminating those who think differently is never a good idea.

Rushdie was attacked by a lunatic with a knife while lecturing in upstate New York. This is the latest chapter in decades of harassment in which the writer, who long ago deserved the elusive, capricious and fickle Nobel Prize, has had to change his name, hide, and go underground to avoid the extremists who persecuted him, not only to liquidate his libertarian spirit but, incidentally, to win the juicy reward of more than three million dollars placed on Rushdie’s head.

Why is the word confronted with weapons? How is a writer right now in intensive care just because of what he put on paper? No matter what he has said, his freedom of expression is above everything that we can oppose. I don’t care if his name is Rushdie, he is Indian and has declared himself a questioner of all dogma. He puts one syllable after another with unsurpassed beauty and neatness. That puts him on the Parnassus of creativity.

Climbing onto a stage to try to kill a man who is talking seems like one of the most emblematic scenes of human folly. Can the word be assassinated? Is a voice extinguished by stabbing it in the neck with a dagger? Please, leave us with your blindness and go somewhere far away, to another galaxy if possible. Stop being so difficult and so lacking in self-esteem, the name of writers like Salman Rushdie will be repeated long after some police report notes the sad name of the person who tried to kill him.


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