- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2015

Salman Rushdie, the author of “The Satanic Verses” who lived for years in hiding due to a death threat from radical Islamists, said it’s an outrage to blame Charlie Hebdo for the terrorist attacks on its Paris offices — that freedom and the right to speak freely is either “indivisible” or not at all.

“The French satirical tradition has always been very pointed and very harsh and still is, you know,” Mr. Rushdie said after a speech at the University of Vermont in Burlington, The Associated Press reported. “The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades … who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists, and I don’t know what else.”

Mr. Rushdie said you can’t have it both ways — free speech, except in certain circumstances — because that’s not freedom.

“Both John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela use the same three-word phrase which in my mind says it all, which is ‘Freedom is indivisible,’ ” he said, AP reported. “You can’t slice it up, otherwise it ceases to be freedom. You can dislike Charlie Hebdo … but the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak.”

Iranian leaders in 1988 were incensed at Mr. Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” book and called for his death. The edict was lifted in 1998.

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