Salman Rushdie, who once received a fatwa death threat for his portrayal of Islam in The Satanic Verses, has expressed support for Charlie Hebdo.
The Paris-based satirical newspaper was attacked by masked gunmen on Wednesday, and 12 people were killed in the event. Charlie Hebdo, never a publication to shy away from controversy, had criticized extreme Islam in the past and recently mocked ISIS. In a statement Wednesday, Rushdie expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo:
Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. 'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion.' Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect. [English PEN]