'Is this what the progressives of the Western Left want to create?

Salman Rushdie: Palestinian state would be ‘Taliban-like,’ ruled by Hamas

British-American author says it’s ‘strange’ that leftist students back a ‘fascist terrorist group,’ says reactions to Gazan deaths understandable but can ‘slide into antisemitism’

Salman Rushdie poses for a portrait to promote his book 'Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,' at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, Germany, May 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Salman Rushdie poses for a portrait to promote his book 'Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,' at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, Germany, May 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Salman Rushdie, the British-American author who narrowly survived an attempt on his life in 2022 by a suspected Islamist radical, said Sunday that if a Palestinian state were established today, it would be “a Taliban-like state” governed by Hamas.

The Indian-born novelist criticized anti-Israel student protests, saying in an interview with German tabloid Bild that it was “strange” that progressive youth would support a “fascist terrorist group” like Hamas.

Noting the protesters’ demand “to liberate Palestine,” Rushdie says he’s long supported a Palestinian state but warned it would become an authoritarian Islamist regime like Afghanistan.

“But if there were a Palestinian state now, it would be run by Hamas and we would have a Taliban-like state. A satellite state of Iran. Is this what the progressive movements of the Western Left want to create?” he said.

Rushdie said he understood the protests as an emotional reaction to Palestinian deaths, and that “any normal person can only be shocked by what is happening in Gaza right now.”

“That’s okay. But when it slides into antisemitism and sometimes even support for Hamas, then it becomes problematic,” he said, adding that he thought protesters should at least hold the terror group responsible for the war too.

“It all started with them,” he said, in an apparent reference to Hamas’s October 7 massacre that started the war, when terrorists rampaged through southern communities, slaughtering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 252 hostages to Gaza.

Hadi Matar, 24, listens while being arraigned in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York, August 13, 2022. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

Anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian student protesters around the world claim their movement is nonviolent and not antisemitic, citing Jewish students who take part in the protests. However, many Jewish students say they have been harassed by protesters, and chants calling for the elimination of Israel are often heard at the demonstrations.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and eighty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

Rushdie, an award-winning novelist, lost sight in one eye after being repeatedly stabbed on stage in August 2022 while speaking at an arts center in New York.

Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old Shi’ite Muslim American from New Jersey, was arrested at the scene and is standing trial for attempted murder. Matar has pleaded not guilty.

Rushdie has been the victim of repeated death threats and attempts on his life since the publication of his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” which was declared blasphemous by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Islamic revolution in Iran ten years earlier. Khomeini had issued a fatwa – a religious edict – calling for Rushdie’s death over that book, which contained passages seen as critical of Islam.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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