Safety concerns loom as writers show public support for Rushdie

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Watched by counterterrorism officers and police in tactical gear, hundreds of people gathered outside the New York Public Library on Friday to show their support for Salman Rushdie, the author who was stabbed multiple times at a literary event. A week ago.

Irish novelist Colum McCann, British writer Hari Kunzru and others read passages from Rushdie’s works from the top of the steps of the library’s flagship branch off Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Downstairs, at a distance imposed by the organizers, a crowd of about 400 gathered to listen, breaking out into chants of “Stand with Salman” as the event ended. Some held signs depicting Rushdie and quoting him saying, “If we are not sure of our freedom, then we are not free.”

Police say Rushdie was attacked by a 24-year-old New Jersey man who rushed onto a stage and stabbed the writer in the neck and chest during a literary festival in western New York the last week. Rushdie, who was rushed to hospital, survived. There were no bag checks or metal detectors to detect weapons before the appearance of Rushdie, who had been living on a death sentence for 33 years.

The suspect has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and second-degree assault. “I hope it’s a wake-up call that people like Salman, who aren’t afraid of anything, who write things as they see them, who aren’t afraid to tell the truth as they see her, are in real danger,” the PEN America chief said. Executive Suzanne Nossel. The free speech and human rights non-profit group helped organize the event.

Participants spoke of their concerns for themselves and for other writers after the attack. “We are all in danger. And some of us are more openly in danger than others,” Iranian-American author Roya Hakakian said in an interview.

While the death penalty, or fatwa, ordered against Rushdie by Iran was among the most publicized threats, many authors say harassment and calls for violence have become part of a writer’s experience. ‘Love Is an Ex-Country’ author Randa Jarrar said in an email interview this week that she needs to learn how to “aim better with a gun” and be physically prepared in case of an attack. attack after a tweet about former first lady Barbara Bush sparked threats.

When Bush died in 2018, Jarrar described her as an “incredible racist” for a comment on majority black communities displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Muslim author said she feared for her life when critics posted her home address and phone number online. She and her child began to receive death threats.

Every threat she received mentioned she was Muslim and warned her to go back where she came from, Jarrar said. She moved and hired a company to clean up her private data on the internet. Queer Chicana writer Myriam Gurba has faced threats after she criticized author Jeanine Cummins in 2020 for cultural appropriation while writing the novel ‘American Dirt,’ which focused on a Mexican woman who escaped a drug cartel. drugs to build a new life in the United States as undocumented immigrants. immigrant.

Gurba said many people supported her, but she also received threats of violence on her phone and online. “The first death threat I received was that the police should execute me for my stupidity,” she said.

This week, Police Scotland said they were investigating a threat against ‘Harry Potter’ author JK Rowling following his tweet expressing concern for Rushdie. At least one upcoming literary festival tightens security. Organizers of September’s National Book Festival, hosted by the Library of Congress in Washington, had already planned to demand bag searches.

Now the festival is working with law enforcement to add additional measures, a spokesperson said. At the New York Public Library, some writers said they weren’t afraid to congregate in public.

“The only time I worried was when they told us how bad the security was going to be, thinking there might have been threats, but I doubt that,” the official said. author Paul Auster.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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