Rushdie attacks threat to free speech: Ignatieff

After Indian-British novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked at a writing conference in western New York on Friday, current and former Canadian politicians are weighing in on what the attacks mean for freedom of speech. expression and thought.

Former Liberal Party of Canada leader Michael Ignatieff, who is a friend of Rushdie and has known him since 1984, told CTV News Channel he felt a personal reaction of “sorrow, dismay and anger” after learning the incident.

He views such an attack as a threat to freedom of thought.

“I just think bigotry is a danger to free speech everywhere,” he said. “It is a danger for any writer and any free thinker. We must oppose him wherever he raises his head.

Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses”, published in 1988, drew death threats from Iranian leaders, who considered the book blasphemy against the Islamic faith and offered a reward for the death of its author. Rushdie was stabbed multiple times in the neck and abdomen on Friday and was rushed to hospital.

“I just think it’s an example of how a young person, perhaps adrift in American society, thought his life had a purpose if he was carrying out a religious warrant of execution,” Ignatieff said. .

“That’s what’s dangerous in the future – that there will be other people who will suddenly think their lives will have meaning if they can carry out the same mandate established 30 or more years ago.”

Ignatieff thinks the attack is a painful reminder of what is at stake and what he said must be protected.

“What we have to defend here is a speech artist’s right to use words to talk about any topic,” he said.

“Every creed, every doctrine, including mine, should be the subject of criticism, comedy, good jokes, bad jokes. This is how freedom thrives.

Ignatieff said blasphemy, as a concept, “shouldn’t exist.”

“I respect people who live their religion,” he said. “I respect them as individuals. But I’m under no obligation to them to respect their faith, whether they’re Christians, Jews, Muslims or, you know, secular liberals. I am not obliged to respect a faith. I have to respect people. And I do. Whatever their faith. And I think that’s the distinction we have to keep.

The former leader of the Liberal Party added that “every belief must be questioned. And that’s what he fought and that’s what he stood for. And that’s why [Rushdie] paid the price he paid.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the attack.

“The cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie is an attack on the freedom of expression on which our world is built,” he tweeted on Saturday.

“No one should be threatened or harmed based on what he wrote. I wish him a speedy recovery.”

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