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The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs, and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians.

The IFRT Members Community group is the central hub for discussion, library and events. It is visible to all ALA members but only IFRT members can participate in the conversation.

Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

  • 1.  Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

  • 2.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Aug 19, 2022 11:43 AM
    I saw that the White House put out a statement of condemnation regarding this attack: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/13/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-the-attack-on-salman-rushdie/

    As did the Nat'l Security Advisor: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/12/statement-by-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-on-the-attack-against-writer-salman-rushdie/

    Neither statement mentions the long-standing fatwa against Rushdie, but the Biden statement makes clear mention of the intellectual freedom implications of the whole affair.

    Stronger statements came from leaders and literary figures elsewhere,: https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/barbaric-disgraceful-politicians-intellectuals-condemn-attack-on-salman-rushdie/ar-AA10C8DD

    Might the ALA  or IFRT be considering something similar? Or did I miss it? Pardon me if I didn't see it.

    --Darryl Eschete, Iowa

    Darryl Eschete
    West Des Moines Public Library

  • 3.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Aug 19, 2022 10:58 PM
    Hi all,

    I haven't seen a statement. The attacker has said in a interview from jail that he has read 2 Pages of Satanic Verses, "doesn't like" Rushdie because Rushdie doesn't respect Islam, and is surprised (read disappointed) Rushdie survived. Some statement is warranted. If we're going to condemn conservative efforts to censor materials in libraries, as well we should, aren't we somewhat obligated to do the same for a far more egregious effort to silence speech . . . In this case, permanently?

    Unfortunately, commenting in this instance could lead to attacks on ALA employees. The contingency is unlikely but not impossible. Any comment should probably come from IFRT as a whole without mentioning individual employee names.

  • 4.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Aug 21, 2022 09:18 AM
    I agree. I think a general statement of our profession’s universal condemnation of censorship with a red-pen underscoring of our horror and disgust at ANY ideologically or religiously-inspired violence used to achieve intellectual repression or inspire fear would be well-timed and well-placed. This DID happen in the USA, and the stabber was an American, no? Murder was the intent and it was acted upon, almost successfully. If we’re for intellectual freedom, this seems like a prime happening to comment upon—one can’t be intellectually free with a knife in one’s liver.

    Sent from my iPhone; please pardon my brevity or any typographical errors.

  • 5.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Aug 26, 2022 12:58 PM
    Hello all, 

    After reading this thread, I brought it to the attention of the IFRT Executive Board at our regular meeting on Wednesday. Our understanding is that Round Tables are not empowered to issue official statements, however, they can encourage the Association to do so. With the support of the Executive Board, I have contacted ALA staff to see if this work is already being done by the Association and to see what next steps would be. 

    My best,

    Amanda Vazquez
    Library Director
    Dubuque County Library District
    amandav@dubcolib.org | 563-582-0008

  • 6.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Aug 26, 2022 03:30 PM
    Thanks Amanda. Lots of time has passed since the incident, so let's see what ALA says.


  • 7.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Aug 21, 2022 10:45 AM
    i agree.

    Steven Haydu 575-921-1304 sitstill88310@yahoo.com

  • 8.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Sep 01, 2022 09:14 AM
    Twenty days ago, British-American author Salman Rushdie and bibliophile and author's event moderator Henry Reese were injured when a radicalized American jumped on stage and attempted to murder Rushdie, seeking to fulfill a long-standing religious death order placed on Rushdie due to the contents of a novel written over 30 years ago. The murderous attack happened on American soil, in public, at an author's event. Rushdie has long been held up by the American Library Association as an example of an author under threat, and, by extension, intellectual freedom itself under threat. To date, the American Library Association has said nothing official. The American Library Association has, in the past, put out statements condemning various injustices or supporting various causes. On this matter, however, they are silent.

    Contact the Executive Board here: https://www.ala.org/aboutala/governance/officers

    Demand that they make a statement about this attack and the very notion of repaying SPEECH with violence.

    Darryl Eschete
    West Des Moines Public Library

  • 9.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Sep 02, 2022 08:45 AM

    Hi Darryl,

    There is a process, and here it is: While roundtables are not empowered to issue statements, the Intellectual Freedom Committee, as a committee of Council, could propose an item for action by Council and the Executive Board.  A working group could propose language for consideration. 

    We are working on it.  It should have been done sooner, yes, and I'm concerned that it will be seen as too late.  But we will not be silent about a vicious attack on a great voice for free expression. Nothing justifies violence of this sort.

  • 10.  RE: Solidarity with Salman Rushdie

    Posted Sep 02, 2022 09:30 AM
    Mr. Blackwell:

    What fantastic news! In my mind, I think the pause between incident and statement could be a POSITIVE thing because, in an American news cycle jaded by regular violence, malice and mayhem, the ALA statement--if of sufficiently strong tone--could bring the issue back to mind and refresh the debate. In the last few years, I know I've been disgusted unto nausea by people glibly and recklessly hinting that violence might be a suitable and appropriate response for speech/expression-based affronts to people's political, religious or even personal sensibilities, and I'm confident that the leadership of our professional organization would never let such an incident gain any sort of tacit approval at our collective hands, especially as it is so directly and undeniably tied to the intellectual-freedom-protecting mission of the ALA. I state with confidence that our organization would never flirt with the appearance of politicized hypocrisy or ethical bankruptcy that remaining silent on THIS issue might open us all up to, especially since the ALA weighs in with moral confidence on so many sociopolitical issues that can only be tied to librarianship or libraries in a layperson's mind with some involved exercises in  intellectual and philosophical dot-connecting. 

    At any rate, I'm sure we all have a few days' worth of patience left as the wording of a statement is worked out by minds most qualified to do so.

    I would suggest, asking your indulgence, that some clear statement of GENERAL PRINCIPLES disavowing the very NOTION of physical violence EVER being an appropriate response to any sort of expression be included as a philosophical touchstone for people who profess to be information workers or librarians. 


    Darryl Eschete
    West Des Moines Public Library