Author Salman Rushdie stabbed on stage in rural New York

World Saturday 13/August/2022 07:57 AM
By: DW
Author Salman Rushdie stabbed on stage in rural New York
Rushdie was attacked while on stage at a literary event in rural New York

Award-winning author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in rural New York on Friday while on stage at a literary event.

Witnesses said a man ran to the stage as Rushdie was about to deliver a lecture, before attacking him.

A doctor who was in the audience and offered assistance after the attack told the New York Times that he appeared to have multiple stab wounds including one to the right side of his neck, but that he had a pulse and did not require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Images shared by attendees appeared to show Rushdie being treated on stage. He was later airlifted to a local hospital.

Rushdie is currently on a ventilator and can't speak, said the author's agent, Andrew Wylie.

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

The incident took place at the Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) southwest of Buffalo, where Rushdie was due to deliver a lecture on how the United States offers asylum for artists in exile

A spokesperson for Rushdie, told the Reuters news agency that "Salman is in surgery."

Attacker in custody

The alleged attacker was immediately arrested. Police later identified the suspect as a 24-year-old man from New Jersey. Police said he was tackled by audience members before being taken into custody.

Police also said there were no indications of previous threats, but confirmed the attacker had a pass to attend the event.

"I felt like we needed to have more protection there because Salman Rushdie is not a usual writer," said Anour Rahmani, an Algerian writer and human rights activist who was also in the audience. "He's a writer with a fatwa against him."

 A state trooper and a county sheriff's deputy had been assigned to watch over the lecture.

Rushdie, 75, has spent years living under a death threat from Iran over his novel "The Satanic Verses."

In 1989, Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a "fatwa" calling for Rushdie's death over allegations of blasphemy. Iran's government has since distanced itself from the edict, but in 2012, 15 Khordad Foundation — a semi-official Iranian religious foundation — offered a $3.3 million (€3.2 million) reward for anyone who kills Rushdie.

In 2016, a group of Iranian state-run media outlets added $600,000 more to that bounty.

Rushdie was born into an Indian Muslim family, and identifies as an atheist. After the fatwa was issued, Rushdie went into hiding, but has lived openly in recent years.

He obtained US citizenship in 2016 and lives in New York City.