Salman Rushdie, now recovering in hospital after being stabbed on Friday, told a German magazine just a fortnight ago that his life now was “very normal”, and that he would have faced much more danger if social media had existed back when his novel The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, and that death threats to public figures had become “normal.”
In an interview with Stern magazine, the author explained of having the fatwa declared against him by Iran’s then spiritual leader Ayatolloah Khomeini:
“A fatwa is a serious thing. Luckily we didn’t have the internet back then. The Iranians had to send the fatwa to the mosques by fax. That’s all a long time ago. Nowadays my life is very normal again.”
Rushdie also told the magazine that, although he was inspired by the activism of young people today, what scared him now was no longer religious fanaticism, but the loss of democracy.
“Since the supreme court abortion verdict I have been seriously concerned that the US won’t manage that. That the problems are irreparable and the country will break apart. Today’s greatest danger facing us is this kind of cryptofascism that we see in America and elsewhere.
“Oh, we live in scary times. That’s true even though I always tell people: don’t be afraid. But the bad thing is that death threats have become more normal. Not only politicians get them, even American teachers who take certain books off the syllabus.”
Rushdie is currently being treated in hospital after being stabbed multiple times on Friday while attending a conference on free speech. His agent previously told media that his client may well lose an eye, as well as suffering damage to his liver and arm; an updated report announces that Rushdie has now been taken off a ventilator and is alert and able to speak.