Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

The author of Satanic Verse whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, has been stabbed in the neck and torso as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.

Disclosing this in a statement on Friday August 12, 2022, his spokesperson, Andrew Wylie, stated that Rushdie, 75, was taken to surgery.

He said that the author was put on a ventilator and had suffered significant injuries.

“The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Andrew Wylie said.

Authorities later identified the man suspected of stabbing Rushdie as 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, who had bought a pass to the event.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin assaulting Rushdie as he was being introduced to give a talk to an audience of hundreds on artistic freedom.

Stunned attendees helped wrest the man from Rushdie, who had fallen to the floor. A New York state police trooper providing security at the event arrested the attacker.

“A man jumped up on the stage from I don’t know where and started what looked like beating him on the chest, repeated fist strokes into his chest and neck,” Bradley Fisher, who was in the audience, said. “People were screaming and crying out and gasping.”

Scene of the incident

A doctor in the audience helped tend to Rushdie while emergency services arrived, police said.

Photos taken by an Associated Press reporter show Rushdie lying on his back, with a first responder crouched over him. The author’s legs were being held up above his chest, presumably to keep blood flowing to the heart.

Rushdie’s interviewer, Henry Reese, 73, was also attacked and suffered a minor head injury, police said.

Reese, who co-founded an organization that provides residencies to writers facing persecution, was released from the hospital on Friday and said in a statement that Rushdie was “one of the great defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of creative expression”.

He added, “The fact that this attack could occur in the United States is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments and from many individuals and organizations.”

In the US, where Rushdie lives, the New York state governor, Kathy Hochul, told a press conference that a state police officer saved Rushdie’s life and that of the moderator.

She added: “He is alive, he has been airlifted to safety. But here is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power, someone who’s been out there unafraid, despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life.”

Rushdie was previously president of PEN America, which celebrates free expression and speech.


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