French president Emmanuel Macron describes attack on Salman Rushdie as "cowardly"

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      The president of France is the latest to express outrage over today's attack on writer Salman Rushdie.

      "For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism," Emmanuel Macron said over Twitter. "He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism.

      "His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side."

      Many writers have also spoken out, including Stephen King, Ian McEwan, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Wajahat Ali.

      Canadian film director Deepa Mehta described Rushdie as the "gentlest, kindest, funniest and the most brilliant" in a tweet.

      Mehta directed the 2012 film Midnight's Children, which was an adaptation of one of Rushdie's most famous books.

      Rushdie is in surgery, according to the Reuters news agency.

      He was attacked and stabbed in upstate New York today after he walked on-stage to deliver a lecture.

      On February 14, 1989, Iran's Ayotollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie after he wrote The Satanic Verses.

      Khomeini described the book as blasphemy and Rushdie went into hiding for several years.

      In recent years, the Iranian government has not played up the fatwa.

      In 2012, Rushdie wrote Joseph Anton, which recounted what happened in those years, using the third-person throughout to tell the story.

      "I tried to write the book in the first person and I frankly, simply didn’t like it," Rushdie told the Straight that year. "I didn’t like the sound of it. I mean, I’ve written novels in the first person—Midnight’s Children is written in the first person. But it’s somehow different when the first person is made up to when it’s not."

      In the same interview with former Straight books editor Brian Lynch, Rushdie said: "I think we live in a time not only in which there are attacks on free expression everywhere in the world, but in which we are constantly being told that self-censorship is a good thing—the kind of “\'sit down, you’re rocking the boat' argument. And my view is that great literature has always rocked the boat, and it’s very important not to lose sight of that."