PEN Ukraine Executive Council statement on attempt on the life of the writer Salman Rushdie
PEN Ukraine strongly condemns the violent public assault on the literary writer Salman Rushdie, made on August 12, at an event at the Chautauqua Institution, New York.
After the attack, Salman Rushdie may lose one eye, his liver and arm were stabbed and damaged, too.
The life of Salman Rushdie has been under threat for over three decades since the publication of The Satanic Verses (1988). After the novel was banned in Iran, the then Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for the killing of its author.
Despite the danger to his life, Salman Rushdie has never stopped his creative and public work. For all this time, he has been actively involved in developing the international PEN community. Rushdie was the President of PEN American Center from 2004 to 2006 and founder of one of the most influential literary festivals in USA, the PEN World Voices Festival.
Salman Rushdie has expressed support for Ukraine from the very first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion. According to the report by PEN America, just hours before the attack, he had sent an email to help with placement for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge from the war.
In May, Rushdie co-initiated the II PEN America Emergency Congress of Writers at the United Nations in New York in response, inter alia, to the situation in Ukraine. In his speech within the Congress Salman Rushdie once again expressed support for Ukraine and emphasized that Russia’s war on Ukraine was a consequence of the war of narratives. "A poem cannot stop a bullet. A novel can’t defuse a bomb," Rushdie said. "But we [writers] can sing the truth and name the liars".
We thank Salman Rushdie for his persistence and courage in singing the truth, and for his solidarity with Ukraine. We hope for his quick recovery and demand the immediate prosecution of the culprits and contracting parties of the attack.
We need your help to create projects and materials aimed to defend freedom of speech, popularize Ukrainian culture and values of independent journalism.
Your donation means support for discussions, awards, festivals, authors’ trips to regions and PEN book publications.