Liberal comedian Bill Maher prompted a debate on the religion of Islam after the stabbing of his "dear friend" Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday. On his HBO show, Real Time, Maher opened his discussion with broadcaster Piers Morgan and New York Post columnist Rikki Schlott by arguing that the police have not yet announced a motivation, but have identified the suspect in custody as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey. The host listened to the many death threats Rushdie, an Indian-born novelist who has been a guest on Maher's show, has acquired since the late 1980s, particularly with the publication of The Satanic Verses and the subsequent fatwa from Iran that asked all Muslims to kill him. "Sal did have some enemies in the past as I recall. So I'm guessing Hadi is no Amish," Maher said. The host took a rigid view that the Washington Examiner's Tom Rogan stressed "underplays the Islamic culture of hospitality and prudence." After noting the irony of Rushdie being in New York to deliver a lecture on the United States being a safe haven for exiled writers and other artists under threat of persecution, Maher insisted such a speech "is unthinkable" in most Muslim countries. [tweet_embed] August 13, 2022[/tweet_embed] "Salman Rushdie living in most Muslim countries without getting stabbed everyday is unthinkable," Maher added. "So don't come at me with, 'Islamophobia.' 'Phobia' means fear, right? Sal had a good reason to be fearful, and when you say phobic, it's just a way to shut off debate." Critics who try to suppress discussion over claims such as certain views being transphobic or Islamaphobic should be ignored, Maher claimed. "We should have a debate about this. Sorry — these things don't go away," he added. "Islam is still a much more fundamentalist religion than any of the other religions in the world, and that means they take what's in the holy book seriously and that has been dangerous for a long time. It's still dangerous." Rushdie, 75, was stabbed multiple times, including in the neck and abdomen, and the person interviewing him suffered a minor head injury, according to authorities. Rushdie was flown to a nearby hospital for surgery. Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said in an email Friday evening that his client was on a ventilator and could not speak, according to the New York Times. “The news is not good,” Wylie said at the time. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.” [tweet_embed] August 13, 2022[/tweet_embed] After Maher's introduction to the conversation, Morgan contributed by first reading a quote from Rushdie. "The defense of free speech begins at the point when people say something you can’t stand," he read from a 2005 Los Angeles Times op-ed. Morgan went on to make a point about freedom of speech.