Salman Rushdie warns free expression is under threat
Nine months after he was stabbed on stage, acclaimed author Salman Rushdie in a rare public address has warned that freedom of expression in the West is under threat.
Rushdie, 75, delivered the video message at the British Book Awards on Monday, where he was awarded the Freedom to Publish award.
The attack at a literary festival in New York left him blinded in one eye.
Rushdie is best known for his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses.
The book, which some Muslims have decried as blasphemous, was banned in several countries within months of its publication and ignited protests at bookstores around the world.
Iran's leader also called for Mr Rushdie's assassination in 1989 and placed a $3m (£2.4m) bounty on the author's head.
As he accepted his award, Rushdie said he believes freedom of expression in the West is at a critical juncture.
"Now I am sitting here in the US, I have to look at the extraordinary attack on libraries, and books for children in schools," he said. "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 award-winning author also criticised the rewriting of older books in modern times to remove language deemed offensive, saying that books should "come to us from their time and be of their time."
"And if that's difficult to take, don't read it, read another book," he said.
He appeared wearing sunglasses with one tinted lens covering his injured eye, and looked thinner than usual.
Before he was attacked on stage in New York, Rushdie was about to give a speech about how the US has served as a haven for writers exiled under threat of prosecution.
The Indian-born, British-American writer was forced into hiding for nearly 10 years after The Satanic Verses was published.
The British Book Awards recognised Rushdie with their Freedom to Publish award, which "acknowledges the determination of authors, publishers and booksellers who take a stand against intolerance, despite the ongoing threats they face."
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