In response to today's shooting at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Salman Rushdie released a statement defending the art of comedic criticism, writing, "I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity."
Rushdie's words are particularly relevant given that his own work -- a magical realist novel inspired by Muhammad's life -- led Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against him in 1989. His 2013 memoir Joseph Anton further promotes the right to offend.
Here's Rushdie's full comment, originally posted on English Pen:
Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.
UPDATE: Rushdie, along with other acclaimed authors, signed PEN American Center's official response to the attacks, which concluded, "Today’s effort to silence criticism by murdering the artists and writers who voice it must be met with a far wider movement to defend the right to dissent, which forms the spine of free expression."