After Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked during a writing conference in western New York on Friday, current and former Canadian politicians are weighing in on what such attacks mean for freedom of expression and thought.

Former Liberal Party of Canada leader Michael Ignatieff, who is a friend of Rushdie and has known him since 1984, told CTV News Channel he felt a personal reaction of “sorrow, dismay, and anger” after learning of the incident.

He considers such an attack a threat to freedom of thought.

“I just think fanaticism is a danger to free expression everywhere,” he said. “It’s a danger to every writer and every free thinker. We have to stand against it everywhere it raises its head.”

Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses,” published in 1988, drew death threats from Iran’s leaders, who viewed the book as blasphemy towards Islamic faith and offered a reward for the death of its author. Rushdie was stabbed numerous times in the neck and abdomen on Friday and was rushed to the hospital.

“I just think this is an example of the ways in which a young person, adrift possibly in American society, thought his life had purpose if he executed a religious warrant for an execution,” Ignatieff said.

“That’s what’s dangerous going forward — that there will be other people who will think their lives will suddenly have meaning if they can execute the same warrant laid down 30 or more years ago.”

Ignatieff believes the attack is a painful reminder of what’s at stake, and what, he said, must be protected.

“What we have to defend here is the right of an artist of the word to use words to raise any subject,” he said.

“Every single belief, every single doctrine, including my own, should be subject to criticism, comedy, good jokes, bad jokes. That’s how freedom thrives.”

Ignatieff said blasphemy, as a concept, “should not exist.”

“I respect people who live their faiths,” he said. “I respect them as individuals. But I’m not under their obligation to respect their faith whether they’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or, you know, Liberal seculars. I’m not required to respect a faith. I’m required to respect persons. And I do. Whatever their faith. And I think that’s the distinction we need to hold.”

The former Liberal Party leader added that “every belief needs to be questioned. And that’s what he’s fought and that’s what he’s stood for. And that’s why [Rushdie] has paid the price he’s paid.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the attack.

“The cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie is a strike on the freedom of expression that our world relies on,” he tweeted on Saturday.

“No one should be threatened or harmed on the basis of what they have written. I’m wishing him a speedy recovery.”