Hours after surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak on Friday evening, as the attack was condemned by writers and politicians around the world as an attack on freedom of expression.
“The news is not good,” his book agent Andrew Wyllie wrote in an email. “Salman is likely to have lost an eye, his arm veins were broken, and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
Rushdie, 75, was being introduced to a speech to hundreds of audiences on artistic freedom at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when a man reached the stage and lashed out at the novelist, who lives with a bounty on his head in the late 1980s. ‘s decade.
The stunned attendees helped to grab the man from Rushdie, which had fallen on the floor. A New York State Police personnel providing security at the event arrested the attacker. Police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who had bought a pass for the event.
Bradley Fischer, who was in the audience, said, “A man jumped on stage, I don’t know where to start and punched him repeatedly in the chest and neck, what looked like banging him on the chest.” “People were screaming and crying and gasping.”
Police said a doctor in the audience helped Rushdie as emergency services arrived. The moderator of the event, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury. Police said they were working with federal investigators to determine a motive. He did not describe the weapon used.
Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, what is now Mumbai, has long been facing death threats for his fourth novel, “The Satanic Verses”, before moving to the United Kingdom. Some Muslims said that the book contained parts of blasphemy. Upon publication in 1988 it was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations.
A few months later, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa, or religious order, calling on Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in the book’s publication for blasphemy.
Rushdie, who called his novel “pretty gentle,” remained in hiding for nearly a decade. Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the novel, was assassinated in 1991. The Iranian government said in 1998 that it would no longer support the fatwa, and Rushdie has been relatively open in recent years.
Some Iranian organizations affiliated with the government have offered bounties of millions of dollars for Rushdie’s murder. And Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said as recently in 2019 that the fatwa was “irreversible”.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency and other news outlets donated money to raise the $600,000 bounty in 2016. Fars called Rushdie an apostate who had “insulted the Prophet” in his report on Friday’s attack.
‘Not a normal writer’
Rushdie published a memoir about his closed, secret life under the fatwa in 2012, entitled “Joseph AntonShe used a pseudonym in British police protection. Her second novel, “Midnight’s Children,” won the Booker Prize. Her new novel, “Victory City,” is due to be published in February.
British Prime Minister boris johnson He said he was shocked that Rushdie was “stabbed while exercising a right we should never stop defending.”
Rushdie was at the institution in western New York by the United States to shelter artists in exile and “as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the institution’s website.
There were no explicit security checks at the Chautauqua Institution, a landmark established in the 19th century in the small lakeside town of the same name; Staff checked people’s passes for bus entry, attendees said.
“I felt like we needed more security out there because Salman Rushdie is not an ordinary writer,” said Anour Rahmani, an Algerian author and human rights activist who was in the audience.
The organization’s president, Michael Hill, said at a news conference that he had the practice of working with state and local police to provide incident security. He vowed that the summer program would continue soon.
“Our whole purpose is to help people bridge that world that has been too divisive for a world,” Hill said. “The worst thing that Chautauqua can do in light of this tragedy is to back down from its mission, and I don’t think Mr. Rushdie would want that either.”
Rushdie became a US citizen in 2016 and lives in New York City.
A self-described lapsed Muslim and “vegetated atheist”, he has been a fierce critic of religion across the spectrum and has been vocal about persecution in his native India, including the Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government. Narendra Modi,
Pen America, an advocacy group for freedom of expression of which Rushdie is a former president, said it was “ridden by surprise and fear” as an unprecedented attack on a writer in the United States.
“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for decades for his words, but he has never bowed down or faltered,” Penn CEO Susan Nossel said in a statement. He said that earlier in the morning Rushdie had emailed him to help relocate Ukrainian writers to asylum.