Author Salman Rushdie called on Friday for a “cessation” of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, saying he was filled with “horror” and “foreboding.”
According to Israeli officials, the Hamas group stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burned.
Israel said about 1,500 Hamas fighters were killed before its army regained control of the attacked area.
More than 4,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza in the relentless Israeli bombardment in retaliation for the Hamas attack, according to the latest tally from the Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza.
Making a rare public appearance since a near-fatal knife attack in the United States last year, Rushdie said he was appalled by the escalating conflict.
“I am appalled by Hamas’ attack,” the British writer said at a press conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest publishing fair.
“I have premonitions about what (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu might do in return.
“I just hope that there can be an end to hostilities soon.”
Rushdie lost sight in one eye after a knife-wielding attacker jumped the stage at an arts event in upstate New York in August 2022.
The author, a naturalized American living in New York, has faced death threats since his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” was declared blasphemous by Iran’s supreme leader.
Wearing glasses with a black lens over his right eye, Rushdie said Friday: “It’s obviously been a difficult year.”
“But I’m happy to be somewhat healthy again,” added the author, who will receive the German Book Trade’s renowned Peace Prize on Sunday.
The knife attack “was a pretty harsh and sharp reminder” of the fatwa issued against him, he said.
He added that it was “a bit surprising” as “the temperature has cooled down”.
“I’m just happy to still be here and be able to say that. It was a close call.”
Threats to democratic values
The award-winning author, 76, was stabbed multiple times in the neck and stomach at a literary conference before attendees and guards overpowered the attacker.
Earlier this month, Rushdie’s publisher announced that he would publish a memoir about the attack, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” next April.
When asked about the new work, he said it was “impossible to write anything else.”
“It would seem kind of absurd to write anything else until I looked into this topic.”
He also expressed concern about threats to democracy in some parts of the world, citing the “madness of the (U.S.) Republican Party.”
“It is very concerning that one of the major political parties in the United States appears to have deviated from democratic values and turned to a kind of personality cult,” he said.
Rushdie singled out India in particular – where he was born in 1947 – saying there was “increasing risk to journalists and anyone who opposes or criticizes the government”.
He also criticized recent moves to prosecute Booker Prize-winning Indian writer Arundhati Roy.
“She is one of India’s great writers and a person of enormous integrity and passion,” he said.
“The idea that she should be brought to justice for expressing these values is disgraceful.”
Earlier this month, Indian media reported that Roy – a strong critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government – could be prosecuted over a speech about Kashmir in 2010.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Source : www.ndtv.com