LONDON – U.K. author Salman Rushdie, who has lived in hiding under armed police guard since Iranian religious and political leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him in 1989, has condemned the armed attack on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday, and restated his support for freedom of expression.
In a statement, Rushdie said: “Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.”
He added: “I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”
Khomeini issued the fatwa, which ordered Muslims to kill the writer, in response to Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses,” which was alleged to be “against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran.”
After the fatwa, the book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death, its Norwegian publisher was shot, and its Italian publisher was knifed.