Author Salman Rushdie calls for defense of freedom of expression as he receives German prize

BERLIN – Author Salman Rushdie called Sunday for the unconditional defense of freedom of expression as he received a prestigious German prize that recognizes his literary work and his resolve in the face of constant danger.

The British-American author decried the current age as a time when freedom of expression is under attack by all sides, including from authoritarian and populist voices, according to the German news agency dpa.

He made his remarks during a ceremony in St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt, where he was honored with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for continuing to write despite enduring decades of threats and violence.

In August 2022, Rushdie was stabbed repeatedly while on stage at a literary festival in New York state.

Rushdie has a memoir coming out about the attack that left him blind in his right eye and with a damaged left hand. “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder” will be released on April 16. He called it a way “to answer violence with art.”

The German prize, which is endowed with 25,000 euros ($26,500), has been awarded since 1950. The German jury said earlier this year that it would honor Rushdie “for his resolve, his positive attitude to life and for the fact that he enriches the world with his pleasure in narrating.”

Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had condemned passages referring to the Prophet Muhammad in Rushdie’s 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” as blasphemous. Khomeini issued a decree the following year calling for Rushdie’s death, forcing the author into hiding, although he had been traveling freely for years before last summer’s stabbing.

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