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ABA is appalled by Friday’s attack on author Salman Rushdie and City of Asylum co-founder Henry Reese. The motive for the attack is not confirmed at this time, but we condemn all violence and are deeply concerned that an author and a bookseller ended up in mortal danger simply by taking a stage to discuss ideas. Our thoughts are with Rushdie and Reese and we wish them healing.

We think it is important to make this statement. We also thought it was important for us to wait a few days to do so. The false sense of urgency that social media and the media perpetuate in our culture can numb us to our feelings and distract us from the deep consideration a terrible incident like this necessitates.

While this was an isolated incident with unique circumstances, it is impossible to view this incident without thinking about the wave of book banning that ABFE, ABA’s free expression initiative, has been fighting non-stop all year. 

Publishers’ titles are being challenged. Bookstores are being harassed. Librarians are being attacked. Authors are being threatened. Over books. Books in which people of all experiences and identities can see themselves reflected. Books in which others can see experiences and identities different from their own. Books that promote empathy, understanding, confidence, and growth. Books that discuss ideas and explore the limitless human imagination.

A world filled with these books is essential to our humanity. And the diverse authors who create them, the dedicated publishers that publish them, and the fearless librarians and tireless booksellers who make them available, must be free to do so.

Please sign our Banned Books petition in support of ABFE’s work to protect that world. The stakes are high.

Allison Hill

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