Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born author who spent years hiding after Iran ordered Muslims to kill him for his writing, was stabbed in the neck and chest onstage during a lecture in New York state on Friday and taken to a hospital, according to police.
Rushdie was placed on a ventilator and was unable to talk on Friday evening following an attack denounced by writers and politicians throughout the world as an assault on free expression.
“The news is not good,” his book agent, Andrew Wylie, stated in an email. “Salman will almost certainly lose one eye; his arm’s nerves were cut, and his liver was stabbed and destroyed.”
Rushdie, 75, was being presented to an audience of hundreds at Western New York’s Chautauqua Institution for a presentation on artistic freedom when a guy rushed to the stage and lunged at the author, who has lived with a bounty on his head since the late 1980s.
Attendees were stunned when they assisted in clawing the guy from Rushdie, who had collapsed to the floor. The perpetrator was apprehended by a New York State Police trooper who was providing security at the event. Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old male from Fairview, New Jersey, was identified as the suspect by police.
“I’m thinking Hadi isn’t Amish,” Maher said. “Prior to this, he was giving a talk about how the United States is a safe haven for exiled authors and other artists facing persecution. Making that speech is unacceptable in most Muslim nations. It is unimaginable for Salman Rushdie to live in most Muslim nations without being stabbed on a daily basis.”
“A man went up on stage from I don’t know where and began what appeared to be pounding him on the chest, repetitive fist strikes into his chest and neck,” said Bradley Fisher, who was in the crowd. “People were yelling, weeping, and gasping.”
According to authorities, a doctor in the crowd assisted Rushdie while emergency personnel arrived. The event’s moderator, Henry Reese, sustained a mild head injury. Police said they were working with federal authorities to figure out what happened. They didn’t say anything about the weapon.
The event was called “appalling” by White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. “We’re grateful to decent folks and first responders for assisting him so quickly,” he tweeted.
Rushdie, who was born in Bombay, now Mumbai, to a Muslim Kashmiri family before relocating to the United Kingdom, has long suffered death threats for his fourth novel, “The Satanic Verses.”
According to some Muslims, the book contains blasphemous sections. When it was published in 1988, it was prohibited in numerous countries with substantial Muslim populations.
A few months later, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, ordering Muslims to murder the writer and anybody involved in the book’s release for blasphemy.
Rushdie went into exile for nearly a decade after describing his work as “quite light.” Hitoshi Igarashi, the novel’s Japanese translator, was assassinated in 1991. The Iranian government said in 1998 that it would no longer support the fatwa, and Rushdie has been living more freely in recent years.
Iranian organizations, some of whom are associated with the government, have offered a million-dollar prize for Rushdie’s assassination. And, as late as 2019, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, stated that the fatwa was “irrevocable.”
In 2016, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency and other news sources contributed funds to enhance the prize by $600,000. In its story on Friday’s incident, Fars dubbed Rushdie a renegade who “insulted the prophet.”
‘NOT A NORMAL WRITER’
Rushdie released “Joseph Anton,” the alias he employed while under British police protection, as a book in 2012 about his cloistered, hidden existence under the fatwa. “Midnight’s Children,” his second novel, earned the Booker Prize. His next work, “Victory City,” will be released in February.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was outraged that Rushdie had been “stabbed while exercising a privilege we must never abandon.”
According to the organization’s website, Rushdie was at the institution in western New York for a talk about the United States providing shelter to artists in exile and serving as a “haven for freedom of creative expression.”
According to the organization’s website, Rushdie was at the institution in western New York for a talk about the United States providing shelter to artists in exile and “as a haven for freedom of creative expression.”
There were no evident security checks at the Chautauqua Institution, a landmark created in the nineteenth century in the tiny lakeside town of the same name; employees just examined people’s permits for admittance, visitors claimed.
“I felt like we needed more security there since Salman Rushdie is not your typical writer,” said Anour Rahmani, an Algerian writer, and human rights campaigner in the crowd. “He’s a writer with a fatwa against him.”
At a news conference, Michael Hill, the institution’s president, stated that they have a habit of collaborating with state and local police to provide event security. He promised that the summer program will resume shortly.
“Our entire objective is to help people reconcile what has been an overly polarised society,” Hill explained. “The worst thing Chautauqua could do in the aftermath of this tragedy is abandoned its goal, and I don’t think Mr. Rushdie would want that either.”
Rushdie became a citizen of the United States in 2016 and now resides in New York City.
He has been a sharp critic of religion across the spectrum and outspoken against tyranny in his own India, notably under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist regime.
PEN America, a free expression advocacy organization founded by Rushdie, said it was “reeling from shock and outrage” at what it called an unprecedented attack on a writer in the United States.
“Salman Rushdie has been harassed for his thoughts for decades but has never flinched or wavered,” PEN’s chief executive, Suzanne Nossel, said in a statement. Rushdie had written her earlier in the morning asking for assistance in transferring Ukrainian authors seeking shelter, she added.