After 2 weeks, India calls Salman Rushdie attack ‘horrific’

India has always stood against violence and extremism, says External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi

August 25, 2022 05:38 pm | Updated August 26, 2022 07:14 am IST - New Delhi

A supporter holds up a copy of “Shame” by author Salman Rushdie while attending a reading and rally to show solidarity for free expression at the New York Public Library in New York City on August 19, 2022.

A supporter holds up a copy of “Shame” by author Salman Rushdie while attending a reading and rally to show solidarity for free expression at the New York Public Library in New York City on August 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

India condemned the August 12 attack on Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie, calling it “horrific” on August 25, 2022. The statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, which was the first formal reaction by the government, came nearly two weeks after the stabbing of Mr. Rushdie at a public event in the United States by a man who was arrested for the hate crime.

“”India has always stood against violence and extremism. We condemn the horrific attack on Salman Rushdie and we wish him a speedy recovery,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at his weekly media briefing, in response to a question about the attack. Mr. Rushdie, who was stabbed repeatedly by a man identified as Hadi Matar, who admitted to attempting to murder him in response to Mr. Rushdie’s 1988 book the Satanic Verses, against which Iran’s former ‘Supreme Leader’ had issued a “fatwa” at the time.

Although condemnation of the attack on Mr. Rushdie had come in from across the world immediately after the incident at the Chataqua Institution in New York State, and several heads of state including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, US President Joseph Biden, and leaders of the UK, France and other countries had issued strong statement, New Delhi had noticeably made no comment thus far.

When asked at a conference in Bengaluru a few days after the attack, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that he had “also read about it”. “This is something that the whole world has noticed and the whole world has reacted to such an attack,” Mr Jaishankar had added.

The government’s delayed reaction to the attack on Mr. Rushdie also came in stark contrast to its previous reaction to a series of hate crimes on Indian-origin US citizens in 2017, where the government had raised the killings of Indian-Americans at the “highest levels” in the US State Department.

Editorial | The power of words: On the assault on Salman Rushdie

Mr. Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai, and is now a US citizen, received a number of awards, including the Booker Prize in 1981, and the Booker of Bookers in 2008 for his book on Indian independence called “Midnight’s Children”.

According to his agent, Mr. Rushdie is on “the road to recovery”, but was dealing with severe injuries from ten stab wounds to his eye, neck, abdomen and leg.

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