When Cancel Culture Becomes Kill Culture

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readApr 13, 2024

Some people want other people to shut up. What if they won’t?

Salman Rushdie no Fronteiras do Pensamento Porto Alegre 2014. Convidado: Salman Rushdie, escritor indo-britânico. Data: 12 de maio de 2014. Local: Salão de Atos da UFRGS — Porto Alegre. (Crédito: Luiz Munhoz)

“So it’s you. Here you are.”

When Salman Rushdie was attacked onstage by a knife-wielding fanatic in 2022 as he prepared to give a lecture, Mr. Rushdie had already been living under the threat of assassination for over 33 years.

Since 1989, Salman Rushdie has lived under the shadow of a death sentence, not for any crime, but for the act of creating literature. His novel, “The Satanic Verses,” ignited a firestorm of controversy, leading to a fatwa issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989.

In his fatwa, Khomeini called for the execution of author Salman Rushdie, labeling him an apostate and accusing him of insulting Islam and its Prophet.

The fatwa sparked widespread international condemnation, igniting debates about freedom of expression, the limits of religious tolerance, and the clash between cultural sensitivities and artistic freedom. Rushdie was forced into hiding, living under constant police protection for years, as fears of assassination attempts by extremist groups loomed large.

Only during the last few years did Salman Rushdie finally emerge to do a few speaking events per year.