Salman Rushdie Voices Support for Charlie Hebdo After Paris Shooting

Salman Rushdie - The Royal Academy of Arts - P - 2011
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Salman Rushdie defends French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of Wednesday's deadly shooting

Salman Rushdie is coming to the defense of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after an Islam-inspired shooting at its offices left 12 dead, saying, "Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms."

Rushdie, whose book Satanic Verses earned him a fatwa from Iran's Ayatollah in 1989, released the statement Wednesday in the wake of the Paris attack, which also left several injured. Among the dead are famed French cartoonists Jean Cabut, Stéphane Charbonnier, and Georges Wolinski.

According to, Rushdie's statement continues: "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."

According to authorities, masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and opened fire inside with AK-47s, apparently as retribution for the newspaper's satirical cartoons about Islam. The gunmen reportedly then fled the scene in a black car.

It's unclear whether the gunmen acted alone or were part of an organization, but they were filmed leaving the offices, shouting in French, "We have avenged Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo."

French President François Hollande called the shooting a terror attack and “an act of exceptional barbarity.”

MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd also released a statement, saying, “We are shocked and saddened by the horrific terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo that occurred today. Our industry has experienced firsthand cowardly attempts at the destruction of freedom of speech, and we offer our expression of support to the victims and their families, as well as the French people.”