AHA Executive Director’s Further Reflections on Salman Rushdie Attack — And Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Response

Andrew Lih, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

For our Executive Director’s initial statement, released on the day of the attack itself, see here.

After the immediate shock of hearing about the brutal attack on Salman Rushdie, the immense relief I felt, and I’m sure you felt, at learning that, while seriously injured, he is on the road to recovery and able to talk and joke, was almost overwhelming. I’m so glad he pulled through.

The sad irony is that Rushdie was due to give a talk on America as a safe haven for persecuted writers when he was attacked, as if the attacker was refuting the very idea with his vicious actions. We clearly have to grapple with the fact that certain values, most of all the right to free speech, are under assault, as well as those individuals who uphold them.

I want to share with you our Founder Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s thoughts on this terrible event. Writing in The Washington Post, she reflected that she once shared the ideals of those who would see Rushdie dead:

If Rushdie had been murdered then, I would have been happy.

Now that he has been nearly killed in a knife attack, I am shattered.

In UnHerd, she spoke of the fear she felt upon hearing the news and struck a note of defiance:

I was scared. I felt terrorised. I was urged to go into hiding and stay silent for my own safety. For a few hours, I let fear rule my life. But still I knew deep down that freedom is a choice — and that I would keep choosing to be free, to speak and write as I please. In this way, in writing this very piece, I defy the Islamists and all others who would silence me.

Like Salman, I will continue to speak. Like Salman, I choose freedom.

Rest assured that AHA Foundation, too, embraces this spirit of defiance. We will continue to stand up for free speech and to oppose all ideologies that seek to undermine our precious freedoms. The attack on Rushdie is an attack on us all. Though we should be angry, we should also recommit ourselves to the task of fighting for freedom. We must protect, preserve, and promote the values that we are for, not merely feel anger at what we are against.

We must not let this cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie make us too fearful to take up this fight. So we move forward in his honor—and in the honor of all those who suffer persecution and oppression.

In solidarity,

George Zarubin
Executive Director of AHA Foundation



  1. Steve Feldman says:

    Everything Rushdie mentioned about Muslim fundamentalists after 9/11/01 is now exactly applicable to American Republican fundamentalists. Did that irony escape your notice, as The US has a party devoted to ending free elections, women’s rights, acceptance of Jews, homosexuals, non Christians, people from less white countries, criticizing Donald Trump, enforcing laws, especially about accountable government, and ending secularism? Fundmentalism is fundamentalism. It is not driven by Islam in the United States any more than by other religions, and less than by Christianity.
    Your complaints about “wokeness” are tunnel vision.

  2. Steve Feldman says:

    “The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women’s rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex.

    Current Republican Party Policy = Fundamentalism exactly like what led to 9/11/01 and the stabbing of Rushdie.
    Freedom of speech = good if politically correct from one party’s point of view. There are 2 sides to “woke”.
    Multi-party political system does not mean 2 parties.
    Universal adult suffrage doesn’t exist if anyone restricts or discourages voter access.
    Accountable government enforces free elections and laws, not denies their validity.
    Everything else Rushdie mentions, even beardlessness, if you look at Trump shills like JD Vance Don Jr. and Ted Cruz, is currently under assault by American Republicans, in the service of our country’s Taliban-like fundamentalists. American Conservatism can no longer be considered a political leaning in this country. It is now a radical fundamentalism.

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