Religion is a "medieval form of unreason": Salman Rushdie responds to Paris attacks

In a statement, the author defended satire and called for "fearless disrespect" of all religions

Published January 7, 2015 9:27PM (EST)

Salman Rushdie                    (Gustau Nacarino / Reuters)
Salman Rushdie (Gustau Nacarino / Reuters)

Salman Rushdie is the latest figure to publicly respond to Wednesday's attacks on Paris' satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which left 12 dead.

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In the statement, published on the website for English PEN, an organization that promotes freedom of speech, Rushdie not only condemns the shooting, but religion as a whole.

"Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms," he wrote. "This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today."

Rushdie expresses his support for the publication and calls for the defense of satire, "which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity."

The author and his work garnered international attention when Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on his head following the 1988 publication of "The Satanic Verses."

"'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion,'" he concluded. "Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Charlie Hebdo Paris Religion Salman Rushdie Satire