In an interview conducted just weeks before he was stabbed and mortally wounded by an attacker in New York state, author Salman Rushdie said his life is now “relatively normal”, after years of having to living in hiding because of the threat of death.
Rushdie spoke in an interview with the German magazine Stern about the threats he sees to American democracy. He also calls himself an optimist, and notes that the fatwa, a religious decree issued in Iran in 1989 calling on Muslims around the world to kill him for blasphemy, has been declared long ago.
The interview was scheduled to appear in the magazine on August 18, but Stern released it on Saturday, the day after the Rushdie attack. The interview was conducted about two weeks ago, the magazine’s editorial office said.
The leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the document after Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” was condemned as blasphemous. He has been in hiding for nearly 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 City, said he worries about threats to democracy in the United States.
These were fueled by racism and hatred of the achievements of liberalism, and constituted the “early stage of fascism”, he said.
“(Former US President Donald) Trump’s victory over the truth is most important there. His people believe they were lied to by others, not him,” he said.
Trump falsely claimed that the November 2020 presidential election he lost to Joe Biden was stolen through widespread voter fraud.
When asked if he is nostalgic, Rushdie, 75, said: “Not necessarily. I love history, but when it comes to my life, I prefer to look forward.”
New York police have identified the suspect in the Rushdie attack as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who purchased tickets to the event at the Chautauqua Institute. Police have not identified a motive.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert. Editing by Frances Kerry)