NEW YORK, NY — Atheists for Liberty is horrified by the unprovoked assassination attempt against Salman Rushdie in Chautauqua, NY on Friday, August 12, 2022. An assailant, now charged with second-degree attempted murder, brutally stabbed Rushdie during a lecture. Rushdie’s injuries are significant, including multiple stab wounds in his neck and abdomen, and medical professionals took critical measures to ensure his viability.
Salman Rushdie is an author and human rights activist known for his critically acclaimed work, ‘The Satanic Verses,’ published in 1988. Many devout Muslims worldwide objected to Rushdie’s portrayal of Islam and the Prophet Muhammed. Rushdie was forced into hiding over 30 years ago following a fatwa issued against him by the theocratic Iranian government and its leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Despite obtaining shelter in the security of secular authorities, Rushdie faced multiple assassination attempts while emphasizing the importance of freedom of speech.
This crisis is the latest in a long series of attacks on defenders of religious and political freedom, including Atheists for Liberty Advisory Board Member, Yasmine Mohammed and the author J.K. Rowling. Although many might see social media threats as empty attacks, social media is a significant avenue where extremism can easily lead to real-world violence. In Rushdie’s words, “Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.” While we stand for freedom of speech, we do not endorse violent threats against any individuals.
The attack on Salman Rushdie indicates a significant issue plaguing our society: religious extremism. In recent years, Islamism has been festering in Europe and has made its way to the United States. At Atheists for Liberty, we see a shifting tone towards Islamism as a worrisome trend facilitated by the rise of wokeism, which seeks to censor any criticism of religions shielded by minority demographics. Censorship of such conversations only aggravates the potential of violence against our fellow Americans – atheists included. Although religious extremism is not limited to Islam, it is critical for free thinkers to question the legitimacy of faith and protect the constitutional integrity of a secular America.
Atheists for Liberty will continue to fight for the separation of church and state for all Americans.