Writer Salman Rushdie attacked at speech event in New York State

Writer Salman Rushdie was hospitalized on Friday after being attacked at a speech event in New York state.

Rushdie, who has faced death threats over his writing, was due to deliver a lecture on Friday morning at the Chautauqua Institution of Education Center in Chautauqua, southwestern New York.

Around 11 p.m., a man “ran onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer,” According to the New York State Police,

Police said Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck and abdomen at least once and was taken by helicopter to a trauma center in Erie, Pennsylvania.

His agent told ABC News on Friday that Rushdie is having surgery and is on a ventilator. His agent said the writer was likely to lose an eye as a result of the attack. His agent said that the nerves in his hand were also broken and his liver was damaged by the stabbing.

Photo: Writer Salman Rushdie, behind the screen, trends after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution on August 12, 2022 in Chautauqua, NY.

Writer Salman Rushdie, back left of the screen, trends after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute on August 12, 2022 in Chautauqua, NY.

Joshua Goodman / AP

The law enforcement officer told ABC News that the alleged attacker is Hadi Matar, 24-year-old from Fairview, New Jersey. He was arrested on the spot and is currently in the custody of the New York State Police. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

State police are working with the Chautauqua County district attorney to determine a “reasonable charge,” Major Eugene Stanizewski, a military commander with the New York State Police, told reporters during a press briefing Friday afternoon. He said the FBI is also helping with the investigation.

Police have yet to determine a motive, Stanizewski said.

Police believe the suspect acted alone and are in the process of obtaining a search warrant for items including electronics and a bag they believe belonged to the suspect, Stanizewski said.

Officials said the suspect had a pass to get to the event.

The news service said that an Associated Press reporter who was at the event saw a man going on stage and attacked Rushdie, as the news service said. The writer ended up on the floor and the man restrained, according to AP,

Photo: Writer Salman Rushdie is attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution on August 12, 2022 in Chautauqua, NY.

Writer Salman Rushdie was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution on August 12, 2022 in Chautauqua, NY.

Joshua Goodman / AP

After the attack, 75-year-old Rushdie was seen bowing down on stage.

Police said interviewer Henry Reese, 73, suffered a minor head injury during the attack. Police said he was treated at a nearby hospital for a facial injury and has since been released.

Michael Hill, president of the Chautauqua Institution, said during Friday’s press briefing that security “has been a top priority,” and that he had a state trooper and sheriff in attendance at the event.

“We will continue to provide the maximum security that we can,” Hill said. “This has never happened in our entire history. Chautauqua has always been an extremely safe place. We will continue to work to keep that tradition going.”

People in the audience expressed grief over the attack.

“He got on stage, it looked like he was punching him,” Patrick Fogarty told the Erie, Pennsylvania, ABC affiliate. WJET, “It was all over too fast.”

John Stein told WJET that he was concerned about safety given Rushdie’s reputation.

“Someone just ran across the stage,” he said. “It was too early. I was just wondering, am I really noticing this?”

Stein said that after the attack, when the attacker started running away from the stage, he was apprehended with the help of some people.

“People in the audience climbed onto the stage when they saw this and then grabbed the attacker, who still had the knife,” he told the station. “Very brave.”

He said that one or two doctors from the audience also went on stage to provide medical help.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochulu called the attack “Terrible,” it said, adding that it has directed the state police to “provide further assistance even if necessary” in the investigation.

Hochul remarked during a press briefing on an unrelated matter on Friday, “Here’s a man who has spent decades speaking the truth to power, someone who, despite the dangers he faces, throughout his adult life, has stayed out. Is.”

The British-Indian author faced death threats for several years after his novel “The Satanic Verses” was published in 1988.

Photo: Author Salman Rushdie seen signing for his book "House" In London on June 6, 2017.

Author Salman Rushdie is seen signing for his book “Home” on June 6, 2017 in London.

Grant Pollard/Invention/AP

The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused the author of blasphemy over the book, and in 1989 issued a fatwa against Rushdie, calling for his death.

Rushdie spent years in hiding, which he recounts in his 2012 memoir, “Joseph Anton.” The book was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the United Kingdom’s top non-fiction award.

In 1998, the Iranian Foreign Minister said that the country no longer supported The fatwa against Rushdie, however, continues to offer a reward for his death by an Iranian religious foundation. In 2012, the group increased the reward from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Others have been attacked in relation to “The Satanic Verses”, which was banned in several countries after its publication. Among them, Hitoshi Igarashi, who translated the book into Japanese, was stabbed to death in 1991 on the campus where he taught literature.

Rushdie has written more than a dozen books, including the Booker Prize-winning “Midnight’s Children,” and is the former president of the literary and human rights organization PEN America.

PEN America expressed “shock and awe” at the attack on Rushdie.

“We can think of no comparable incident of public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” Penn America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. Statement,

He continued, “Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades, but he has never bowed down or faltered.” “While we do not know the origin or motives of this attack, all those around the world who have spoken words with violence or called for it are guilty of legitimizing this attack on a writer, While he was engaged in his essential task of connecting with the reader.”

Penguin Random House, which will publish Rushdie’s “Victory City” next year, released a statement Friday evening on the attack.

“We are deeply shocked and shocked to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie while he was speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in New York. We condemn this violent public attack, and our condolences go out to Salman and his family in this time of crisis. are together.” Executive Officer Marcus Dohle said.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the attack was “reprehensible”.

“Today the nation and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against author Salman Rushdie,” Sullivan said in a statement. “This act of violence is appalling. All of us in the Biden-Harris administration are praying for his speedy recovery.”

ABC News’s Aaron Katersky, Somayeh Malekian and Benjamin Siu contributed to this report.

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