The moderator who was on stage with author Salman Rushdie when he was attacked in a stabbing on Friday, Henry Reese, spoke out about the incident in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday.
Reese was on stage when the stabbing took place last week and was about to interview Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.
Still recovering from injuries he sustained during the incident, Reese, who appeared with a painful-looking black eye, shared that he is doing well but is mainly concerned about Rushdie.
“I’m doing well. Everything is proceeding. I am doing quite well, and I think our concern is for Salman and I mean that both certainly for himself but also for what he means in the world, and he is important to the world,” he told the BBC in a televised interview.
Rushdie, 75, has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses,’ which prompted Iran to urge Muslims to kill him. He was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at Chautauqua Institution in western New York when Hadi Matar ran onto the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer on Friday morning.
When asked about the values that Rushdie represented and how they have become more important in the wake of what happened, Reese said: “there couldn’t be anything more vivid in its materialization of our values.”
Reese and his wife Diane Samuels work together to protect and support persecuted writers and artists from all over the world through the City of Asylum, a non-profit organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They set up the NGO in 2004 and have since supported persecuted writers financially and socially, providing them with housing for up to four years, medical support, and helping them integrate into American society.
“Our mission is to protect writers who are in sanctuary and to see Salman Rushdie assaulted for his life is unimaginably… it’s hard to describe what it is to see that happen in front of you and the writers in our program who were in the audience watching this,” he added.
Rushdie and Reese were supposed to discuss the origins of the Cities of Asylum movement, according to the NGO’s official website, and that the current writers and artists who were in residence and under their protection would “talk about their experiences as exiled artists in the US.”
“Rushdie returns to Chautauqua Institution for a special Chautauqua Lecture Series event exploring the Week Seven theme of ‘More than Shelter,’ joined by Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum — the largest residency program in the world for writers living in exile under threat of persecution — for a discussion of the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression,” the advertisement on the City of Asylum’s website for last Friday’s event outlined.
Reese said he hoped to one day return to the Institution and have the conversation he was supposed to have with Rushdie.
“That would be my ideal to do that and to see that happen and to not be in any way be impeded from doing what we set out to do to both show that these values will be defended and that they can be defended.”
Rushdie suspect’s Lebanese village say incident has little to do with themFew want to speak about Friday’s attack on Rushdie or about Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old Shia Muslim American suspect whose family originally hails from Yaroun, where Hezbollah has strong support. Middle East
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