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Rushdie assassination attempt at Chautauqua Institution being seen as example of global intolerance

Gov. Kathy Hochul visits Chautauqua Institute, the site of the stabbing of Salmon Rushdie, Aug. 14, 2022.
Mike Desmond
Congressmen Brian Higgins and Jamie Raskin speak about assassination attempt on writer Salman Rushdie Aug. 14, 2022.

With world-renowned author Salman Rushdie recovering in a hospital in Erie, Pa., the assassination attempt on him on Friday at the Chautauqua Institution is being seen as a sign of global intolerance.

It’s not known if the near-fatal stabbing was an attempt to enforce a fatwah from the late Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni for Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul went to the Chautauqua Institution Sunday to decry the stabbing at a landmark center for thought and the arts. The governor told a crowd she had been coming there since she was a small child.

Hochul praised the staffers and First Responders who protected Rushdie from the perpetrator and kept him alive.

“I could still see the trauma and pain in their faces that they're trying to figure out how something like this could happen in this place known for its healing, its tranquility, its harmony," she said. "But I will tell you the team that was on the ground here and the EMTs, the firefighters, and those who showed up and literally kept a man alive as they were transporting him, did an extraordinary job.”

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin spoke at Chautauqua Monday and told a news conference Sunday in Buffalo he was appalled by the stabbing.

“I was shocked beyond belief about what took place with Salman Rushdie, who's a great figure and an author who personifies intellectual freedom and daring and courage," Raskin said.

With Congressman Brian Higgins at the news conference, Raskin said books have become the latest target of intolerance.

“Religious fanatics, the political fanatics all over the world are attacking books and authors," he said. "I have a book I wrote called 'We The Students' that was just censored in Texas. They took it out of the schools and actually the very next day I was banned, along with Congressman Higgins, from Russia by Vladimir Putin.”

A long-time law professor and author, Raskin is also a key member of the House of Representatives committee probing the violent takeover of the U.S. Capital on January 6, 2021.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.