FRANKFURT (Reuters) – In an interview just weeks before he was stabbed and seriously injured by an assailant in New York state, author Salman Rushdie said his life was now “relatively normal” , after living in hiding for years because of death threats. .
Rushdie spoke in the interview with German magazine Stern about the threats he sees to American democracy. He also called himself an optimist and noted that the fatwa, a religious edict issued in Iran in 1989 that called on Muslims around the world to kill him for blasphemy, was issued long ago.
The interview is due to appear in the magazine on August 18, but Stern published it on Saturday, a day after Rushdie’s attack. The interview was conducted about two weeks ago, the magazine’s editorial staff said.
The leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the fatwa after Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” was condemned as blasphemous. He went underground for almost a decade, but in recent years he has lived relatively openly.
Indian-born Rushdie, who became a US citizen in 2016 and lives in New York, said he was concerned about threats to democracy in the United States.
Political cartoons about world leaders
These were motivated by racism and hatred of the achievements of liberalism and were “a preliminary stage of fascism”, he said.
“(Former US President Donald) Trump’s victory over truth is the biggest one there. His people think other people are lying to them, not him,” he said.
Trump falsely claims that the November 2020 presidential election he lost to Joe Biden was stolen by widespread voter fraud.
Asked if he was nostalgic, Rushdie, 75, replied: “Not necessarily. I like history, but when it comes to my own life, I prefer to look ahead.”
New York police have identified the suspect in the attack on Rushdie as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who purchased an event pass at the Chautauqua Institution. The police have not established a motive.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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