Why JK Rowling got dragged into the Salman Rushdie stitches controversy

Salman Rushdie was the victim of a horrific knife attack on August 12, 2022. The BBC reported that the writer was delivering a speech at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York when a man rushed onto the stage and attacked him. Rushdie, who suffered multiple stab wounds, was flown in a helicopter to have surgery at a trauma center in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was “taken to the hospital with serious injuries” and put on a ventilator. The next day, British-American writer Aatish Taseer announced in a since-deleted tweet (via The AP) that the author was “off the ventilator and talking (and joking).”

According to The New Times, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989 after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses. Iran’s then-Supreme Leader offered Muslims a “several million dollar” reward in exchange for killing the Indian-born writer. Rushdie immediately went into hiding, where he remained for the next decade, moving regularly from one secret location to another under 24-hour protection by British police.

Rushdie returned to public life in 1998 after the Iranian government waived the death sentence. However, the fatwa stood. The Guardian reports that Hadi Matar, of Fairview, New Jersey, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder. Matar pleaded not guilty on August 13 and was remanded in custody after being denied bail. If convicted, Matar could face up to 25 years. The literary world publicly condemned Salman Rushdie’s stabbing, including JK Rowling, who has now been drawn into the controversy.

JK Rowling has received a death threat over a tweet from Salman Rushdie

JK Rowling was one of many to take to social media following the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. “I’m feeling very ill right now. Let him be okay,” Rowling tweeted after news of the attack. She then retweeted comments and reports from others. Then Rowling posted screenshots of a horrific threat she received. “Don’t worry, you’re next,” read the message. The BBC reported that the threatening letter came from a Pakistan-based account that had also praised Rushdie’s attacker, Hadi Matar, for his actions.

Rowling was inundated with messages of encouragement and concern from her supporters. “To all those sending messages of support. Many Thanks. The police are involved (have been involved in other threats),” she said tweeted. Like Rushdie, Rowling has had her share of controversial moments. The Wrap reports that Rowling has faced backlash over her anti-trans stance. Twitter was forced to remove a video of an activist alluding to the killing of Rowling. “JK, I hope you fit in a hearse” was one of Faye Fadam’s lyrics. “As I kill (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists)” was another.

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According to US Weekly, the Harry Potter creator has also come under fire for being unabashedly #TeamMadonna, being snubbed for defending Serena Williams and accused of cultural appropriation. Rowling took another blow after claiming people are “obsessed” with being skinny and criticizing the “skinny obsessed world”.