Salman Rushdie gives controversial commencement speech at Emory


British Indian author Salman Rushdie ended his tenure at Emory University in Atlanta with a commencement speech, in which he urged the 4,572 graduates “to be larger than life” and look beyond religion.

Rushdie, a well-known atheist, said that “people seem ready to believe almost anything. God, for example…Shocking how many Americans swallow that old story.” He also wondered if these graduates are “the generation that moves past the ancient fictions.”

Rushdie criticized the present conditions in the world with harsh words in his speech.

He also apologized for the actions of his generation, saying that they’re leaving behind a mess “in which religious bigots in this country think Jesus wants them not to sell cupcakes to gay couples, while religious bigots elsewhere think their god approves of sawing off the heads of innocent men.”

His speech, however, included a glimmer of hope for the future with the new graduates, saying that he believes that they can change the world with their ideas, actions and search for the truth.

67-year -old Rushdie became world-famous with his controversial fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, published in 1988.

The novel provoked Muslim protests in many countries, and even death threats were made against Rushdie. As Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran called for his assassination, the British government placed him under police protection. In 2007, he was knighted for his contribution to literature.

Rushdie has lived in the United States since 2000. He has worked for many years at Emory University, which is considered to be one the leading research universities in the world.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter