Nine months after his near-death experience, Salman Rushdie, 75, is back in public attending the Pen American gala Thursday night.

He received the Pen Centenary Courage Award at the American Museum of National History and was glad to be back, he remarked.

“Terror must not terrorize us. Violence must not deter us. La lutte continue. La lutta continua. The struggle goes on,” the novelist said in his acceptance speech.

Right before he was about to give a speech at the Chautauqua Institution last summer, Rushdie was attacked by 24-year-old Hadi Matar.  He was stabbed and punched 15 times causing neck and abdomen wounds, eventually losing sight in his right eye and suffering from nerve damage in one of his hands


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Rushdie was issued a fatwa by Iran’s previous supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, after publishing his book The Satanic Verses in 1988. Some Muslims said that it was blasphemous. Rushdie’s book was then banned in Iran and a fatwa calling for his death was issued. 

Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has distanced himself from the fatwa but an Iranian foundation maintains the earlier ruling, offering farmland to whoever takes the author’s life. 

Another organization, the 15 Khordad Foundation, has a bounty for Rushdie of over $3 million. The United States has since sanctioned the Khordad Foundation for funding an “act of terrorism.”

Earlier this week, Rushdie was given the Freedom to Publish Award by the British Book Awards, after delivering a speech about “freedom of expression, freedom to publish.” 

“The attack on the idea of libraries themselves. It is quite remarkably alarming, and we need to be very aware of it, and to fight against it very hard,” the novelist said at the British Awards.

Rushdie’s attacker has not pleaded guilty to the attack.

A court trial is expected to take place this fall. 

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