Salman Rushdie attack stirs memories from 2017 Columbia visit, concerns about free speech

Roger McKinney and Aarik Danielsen
Columbia Daily Tribune

Excerpt: Five years after he spoke in Columbia, the attack on Salman Rushdie one week ago places greater emphasis on the importance of free speech. Rushdie, 75, a best-selling author, was stabbed last Friday as he was preparing to give a lecture in upstate New York, receiving severe injuries to his neck and abdomen.

He was the keynote speaker of the 2017 Unbound Book Festival in Columbia. Rushdie joked at his talk in Jesse Auditorium that between him and Khomeini, he was the only one still living. Unbound founder Alex George was understandably shocked by the recent attack, he wrote in an email. Having hosted Rushdie at a public event, "I found it difficult to process that an attack that I had considered as a somewhat abstract threat had actually happened," he wrote.