Writer Salman Rushdie was stabbed on the lecture stage in New York

FILE - Author Salman Rushdie seen signing for his book "House" In London on June 6, 2017.  Rushdie was attacked while giving a lecture in western New York.  An Associated Press reporter saw a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday as Rushdie was being introduced.  (Photo, File by Grant Pollard/InVision/AP)

FILE – Author Salman Rushdie is seen signing for his book “Home” on June 6, 2017 in London. Rushdie was attacked while giving a lecture in western New York. An Associated Press reporter saw a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday as Rushdie was being introduced. (Photo, File by Grant Pollard/InVision/AP)

Grant Pollard/Invention/AP

Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and stomach on Friday by a man who took to the stage as the author lectured in western New York. Were going to give

Rushdie, 75, was taken to the hospital in a pool of blood and underwent surgery. His agent, Andrew Wyllie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday evening, with a damaged liver, ruptured veins in his arm and likely the loss of an eye.

Police have identified the attacker as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from Fairview, New Jersey. He was arrested on the spot and was awaiting arrest. Peas was born a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published. The motive for the attack was unclear, State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski said.

An Associated Press reporter observed that the attacker confronted Rushdie on stage at the Chautauqua Institute and stabbed or punched him 10 to 15 times as he was presented. The writer was pushed or fell to the floor, and the person was arrested.

Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but treatable”.

Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, co-founder of an organization that provides residences to writers facing harassment, was also attacked. Police said Reese suffered a face injury and was treated and discharged from hospital. He and Rushdie were about to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.

A state soldier and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to lecture Rushdie, and state police said the soldier made the arrest. But after the attack, some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there were no tight security for the event, given decades of threats against Rushdie and more than $3 million for anyone who paid the bounty on his head. Looking at the offer.

About 2,500 people in the audience included Rabbi Charles Sevenor. The spectators were ejected from the outdoor amphitheater amid gasping.

The attacker ran up to the stage “and started beating Mr. Rushdie. At first you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then within seconds it became completely clear that he was being beaten up,” Sevnor said, adding that the attack lasted about 20 seconds.

Another bystander, Kathleen James, said the attacker was dressed in black, with a black mask.

“We thought it was probably part of a stunt to show that there is still a lot of controversy surrounding this writer. But it became clear in a matter of seconds” that this was not the case, she said.

Peas, like other visitors, had obtained a pass to enter the institution’s 750-acre grounds, President Michael Hill said.

Public defender Nathaniel Barron, the suspect’s lawyer, said he was still gathering information and declined to comment. The authorities had cordoned off Matar’s house.

The stabbings were heard from the quiet city of Chautauqua to the United Nations, which issued a statement expressing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ horror at the attack and stressing that free expression and opinion should not be met with violence. .

Rushdie has been a prominent spokesperson for free expression and liberal causes, and the literary world described Ian McEwan, a novelist and friend of Rushdie, as “an assault on freedom of thought and speech”.

“Salman has been an inspiring defender of oppressed writers and journalists around the world,” McEwan said in a statement. “He is a fiery and generous soul, a man of immense talent and courage and will not be deterred.”

Penn America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the organization was not aware of any comparable acts of violence against a literary writer in the US, Rushdie once the president of the group, which advocated for writers and free expression.

Rushdie’s 1988 novel was viewed as blasphemy by many Muslims, who, among other objections, viewed a character as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad. Across the Muslim world, there were often violent protests against Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family.

At least 45 people were killed in the riots over the book, including 12 in Rushdie’s hometown of Mumbai. In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the Norwegian publisher of the book was shot three times and survived.

The book was banned in Iran, where the late leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or fatwa, in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death. Khomeini died in the same year.

Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has never issued a fatwa retracting his own fatwa, although in recent years Iran has not focused on the author.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s attack, which led to an evening news bulletin on Iranian state television.

Due to death threats and bounties, Rushdie went into hiding under a British government protection program, which included a round-the-clock armed guard. Rushdie emerged after nine years of solitary confinement and cautiously resumed more public demonstrations, maintaining his outspoken criticism of religious extremism.

He said in a talk in New York in 2012 that terrorism is actually the art of fear.

He said, “The only way to defeat it is not to be afraid.

Anti-Rushdie sentiment has long raged after Khomeini’s decree. Index on Censorship, an organization promoting free expression, said as recently as 2016 it had raised funds to promote the bounty for his assassination.

An Associated Press journalist who went to the Tehran office of the 15 Khordad Foundation, which collected millions of rupees for a bounty on Rushdie, found it closed on Friday night over the Iranian weekend. No one answered the call on its listed telephone number.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “shocked to learn of the attack” on Rushdie. “In no case is violence a reaction to words spoken or written by others in their exercise of freedom of opinion and expression.”

In 2012, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title comes from the pseudonym Rushdie that was used while in hiding.

Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children”, but his name became known worldwide after “The Satanic Verses”.

Widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest living writers, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 and made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor earlier this year, Which is a royal honor for those who have made a great contribution to the arts. , science or public life.

In a tweet, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed regret over the attack on Rushdie, saying “we must never stop defending while exercising authority.”

The Chautauqua Institute, located about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, has served for more than a century for reflection and spiritual guidance. Visitors do not pass through metal detectors or check bags. Most people leave the doors of their age-old cottages open at night.

The center is known for its summer lecture series, where Rushdie has spoken before.

In an evening vigil, a few hundred residents and visitors gathered for prayer, music and a long moment of silence.

“Hate can’t win,” shouted one man.


Associated Press journalist John Vavro in Chautauqua; Jennifer Peltz, Hillel Itali and Edith Lederer in New York City; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; Michael Hill in Albany, New York; Ted Schaffrey in Fairview, New Jersey; and Nasser Karimi and Mehdi Fattahi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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