After incident, social media provides outlet

WPXI reporter David Johnson was among those in the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater on Friday.

Johnson called the attack on Salman Rushdie one of the most shocking things he’s seen in 31 years visiting the institution.

“I’ve been coming here for 31 years, and this is obviously the most shocking thing I’ve witnessed here,” Johnson posted on Facebook. “CHQ is one of the most peaceful places you’ll ever see. We’re praying for Rushdie’s complete recovery.”

A fellow speaker also took to social media shortly after news of Rushdie’s stabbing broke. Kelly Corrigan gave the 10:45 a.m. lecture at Chautauqua Institution on Tuesday.

“I’m sure you’ve heard that Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage this morning before a lecture in Western New York,” Corrigan wrote. “I just left that very place not ten minutes before to go home after speaking there on Tuesday afternoon in front of 1,400 lovely, well read people. It’s an idyllic inter-generational haven for thought and connection called Chautauqua and I felt changed for having spent some days and nights on its paths and porches. It is inconceivable that this was the site for violence. There’s nothing on those grounds but well-intentioned lifetime learners who’d like to pour you an iced tea and give you the good rocking chair with the best view. So disturbing to think that was invaded by madness and extremism. Let’s hope he recovers quickly.”

Novelist Ian McEwan, meanwhile, called the attack “appalling” while referring to Rushdie as a friend.

“This appalling attack on my dear friend Salman represents an assault on freedom of thought and speech,” the author wrote in a release on his website. “These are the freedoms that underpin all our rights and liberties. Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world. He is a fiery and generous spirit, a man of immense talent and courage and he will not be deterred.”

Rushdie is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University, where he teaches courses, provides public readings and advises graduate students.

“We strongly condemn this assault, both upon the person and his right to share his ideas,” university officials wrote in a Facebook post on the NYU Facebook page. “Silencing an invited speaker in a public setting is antithetical to the University’s core principle of the free exchange of ideas, and doing so by means of violence only compounds the offense. We admire Salman Rushdie for standing up for his ideas; the thoughts and best wishes of the NYU community are with him in the aftermath of this grievous attack.”


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