Sir Salman Rushdie attack points to a much bigger problem in modern society, says Dan Wootton

Freedom of speech itself is now being under threat as the woke elite surrender to extremists

Published Last updated

The despicable attack in New York state on Friday of Sir Salman Rushdie points to a much bigger problem in modern society, one that, as you know, I am determined to fight.

It’s a matter of freedom of speech itself now being under threat as the woke elite surrender to extremists, terrified of being cancelled or offending a minority group.

So as Sir Salman lies in hospital, having being stabbed multiple times on Friday, it’s worth remembering his words as a group of his contemporaries in 2015 protested against the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo being honoured with an award.

Remember, just months earlier 12 of its staff were brutally killed in an Islamic terrorist attack because they had published apparent “offensive material” that quote “intensifies the anti-Islamic sentiments already prevalent in the western world”.

Dan Wootton
Dan Wootton

Sir Salman's response is so much more pertinent after what happened to him.

He said…

“This issue has nothing to do with an oppressed and disadvantaged minority. It has everything to do with the battle against fanatical Islam, which is highly organised, well funded, and which seeks to terrify us all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, into a cowed silence.”

How brave is that man – a man who would not cower, no matter how many times Islamic extremists threatened his own life.

A man who spent ten years being hidden by the British Government after Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him following the 1988 publication of The Satanic Verses…

But sadly, as the woke west, we have now cowered.

It’s widely accepted no major publishing company would have the balls to print The Satanic Verses today.

How else can we explain society largely ignoring the Batley Grammar School teacher who still remains in hiding after losing his job a year ago for showing an image of the Prophet Muhammad in class?

How else can we explain the despicable treatment of JK Rowling by her peers who have attempted to cancel her for standing up for biological reality?

The same people who mock her after being told following the Sir Salman attack on Friday by Iran-supporting Islamist extremist Meer Asif Aziz, a political activist and student based in Pakistan, who is reported as tweeting about destroying Israel: “Don't worry you are next.”

It’s now or never for the woke literary world to stand up for free speech. As I’ve written in a column for the MailOnline today.

Free speech is being eroded as the cancel culture mob bows to external malevolent forces on a regular basis.

What’s most frustrating is that they do so using the argument that they are promoting tolerance in society, when in fact all they do is encourage the sort of violence against Sir Salman by empowering the likes of Iran.

The constant threats are working. People are scared to offend.

They’d rather turn on one of their own, than risk being accused of transphobia or islamophobia, a cardinal sin in Hollywood that will see you cancelled.

But Sir Salman's attack needs to be a moment of recalibration, starting with the full throttled support of Rowling to express her views on gender without facing any consequence from her own peers.

As Sir Salman's son Zafar declared wisely after the brutal attack on his father: ‘Free speech is life itself. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game.’