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“Real Time” host Bill Maher kicked off his panel discussion on Friday night by addressing the attack of his friend and frequent guest Salman Rushdie.
Rushdie was rushed to the hospital earlier in the day after he was stabbed by a man at a speaking engagement in Chautauqua, New York. The suspect was arrested and later identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar.
“I'm guessing Hadi is not Amish,” Maher quipped. “He was giving a lecture- about this for irony- prior about how the U.S. is a safe haven for exiled writers and other artists under threat of persecution. And making that speech itself is unthinkable in most Muslim countries. Salman Rushdie living in most Muslim countries without getting stabbed every day is unthinkable.”
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“So don't come at me with ‘Islamophobic.’ Phobic means fear, right? Well, Sal had a good reason to be fearful. And when you say phobic, it's just a way to shut off debate. You know, ‘transphobic,’ ‘islamophobic,’ we should have a debate about this. Sorry, but, you know, these things don't go away. Islam is still a much more fundamentalist religion than any of the other religions in the world. And that means they take what's in the holy book seriously. And that has been dangerous for a long time. It's still dangerous. This was 1989 when he was first threatened.”
STABBING OF SALMAN RUSHDIE COMES 33 YEARS AFTER FATWA ISSUED ON HIS LIFE BY IRAN
He continued, “They say we have a long memory. We just got Ayman al-Zawahri. We were bragging about, ‘Oh, you can’t get away.' They have a long memory too.”
Fox Nation host Piers Morgan touted the principle of free speech that it exists to protect those “whose opinions you might staunchly disagree with,” something Maher pointed out is not cherished in many countries around the world “especially Muslim countries.”
“The idea of freedom of speech, it's like- ‘What are you talking about? You insulted the prophet,’” Maher said.
Rushdie has lived under the threat of a fatwa on his life issued by Iran in 1989 after he published a book called “The Satanic Verses” which was banned in the country and considered blasphemous by some Muslims.
Iran has also offered over $3 million in reward for anyone who kills Rushdie.
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Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised a bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie is reportedly on a ventilator, cannot speak and will likely lose one eye.
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