Johannesburg: An Indian-origin author was cruelly assaulted and verbally abused in South Africa after she praised the controversial writer Salman Rushdie whose work has infuriated Muslims across the globe.

Zainub Priya Dala was hit in the face with a brick last week after she praised the writing of the renowned author at a school in Durban.

While she was due to launch her novel ‘What about Meera’ in the city on Saturday, ironically on Human Rights Day in South Africa, Dala has now postponed the schedule following injuries.

According to the reports, the Indian-origin author was followed by three men from the hotel where the festival was taking in a vehicle who forced her car off the road.

As Dala stopped her car, two of the men attacked her, one allegedly putting a knife to her throat while the other struck her in the face with a brick and verbally abused her.

The victim believes the attack was a result of her comments delivered during a writing forum for schools earlier this week where she along with two other authors was asked to talk about their favourite authors.

In her chance, she spoke about her liking towards the Rushdie’s style and another Indian author Arundhati Roy that led to a number of teachers and students walking out in protest from the event.

Speaking about the attack on the Indian author in South Africa, Salman Rushdie explained the attack as ‘appalling and disgraceful’. In his tweet, he said:

“I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope you’re recovering well. All good wishes,” Rushdie said in a tweet.

Dala in her reply said: 

“Thank you. I have my family and children around me and am recovering.”

Even though Dala has filed an assault case with the police, no arrests have been made so far in spite of an appeal for any witnesses to come forward.

Steve Connolly, Managing Director of Random House and her publisher, said, “We condemn completely the brutish attack on author ZP Dala.”

“Have we reached such a state of intolerance that we cannot listen to one writer profess admiration for another without wanting to attack her with a brick and a knife?

“It is ironic that at a time when the communities of Durban are welcoming writers, some elements are attacking those writers who hold different views. We must not let this shameful and violent bigotry prevail,” Connolly said.

Following a fatwa by Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for his death because of controversial views in ‘The Satanic Verses’ in 1998, Salman Rushdie spent a decade in hiding. 

Muslim protest led to removal of an invitation to Rushdie to a South African literary festival in 1988. A similar situation was there in India in 2012, when Rushdie withdrew because of death threats he had received.

(With PTI Inputs)