– In an interview just weeks before he was stabbed and seriously injured by an attacker in New York state, writer Salman Rushdie said his life was now “relatively normal”, having lived in hiding for years due to death threats.
Rushdie spoke in the interview with the German magazine Stern about the threats he sees to American democracy. He, too, described himself as an optimist, noting that the fatwa, a religious edict issued in Iran in 1989 calling on Muslims around the world to kill him for blasphemy, was issued long ago.
The interview was due to appear in the magazine on August 18, but Stern published it on Saturday, the day after the attack on Rushdie. The interview took place about two weeks ago, according to the magazine’s editorial staff.
The leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the fatwa after Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” was condemned as blasphemous. He went into hiding for nearly a decade, but in recent years has lived relatively openly.
The Indian-born Rushdie, who became a US citizen in 2016 and lives in New York, said he is concerned about threats to democracy in the United States.
These were driven by racism and hatred of the achievements of liberalism, and constituted “a preliminary stage of fascism”, he said.
“(The former president of the United States, Donald) Trump is the one who gains the most from the truth there. His people believe that others are lying to him, not him,” he said.
Asked if he was nostalgic, Rushdie, 75, said: “Not necessarily. I love history, but when it comes to my own life, I prefer to look forward.”