NSS defends free speech at ‘Stand with Salman’ event

Posted: Thu, 1st Sep 2022

NSS defends free speech at ‘Stand with Salman’ event

The National Secular Society has reiterated its commitment to free speech at an event to show solidarity with author Salman Rushdie.

NSS campaigns officer Alejandro Sanchez (pictured) joined other free speech campaigners at 'Stand with Salman', which was held in London last week following the recent attack on Rushdie.

Rushdie was stabbed on stage while giving a talk on free speech in the US last month by a man who accused him of 'attacking Islam'.

Rushdie has faced attempts against his life after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 ordering Rushdie's execution following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous.

At the event, which was subject to heavy police presence, Alejandro read NSS chief executive Stephen Evans' official response to the attack.

Other speakers included Toby Young of the Free Speech Union and anti-extremism academic Wasiq Wasiq.

Alejandro's reading called for the end of the "stealth blasphemy code" and "climate of self-censorship" that have developed. Just last year, a teacher was forced into hiding for using images of Muhammad in class, while this year a film was pulled from cinemas following religious protests.

The reading urged politicians to take an uncompromising stance on free speech and for citizens of all faiths and beliefs to stand together to oppose religious censorship: "Salman Rushdie once said that the writer's great weapon is the truth and integrity of their voice. The best way to show solidarity with him is by never allowing that voice to be silenced."

You can watch the video of Alejandro's reading here:

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Tags: Free speech