The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has called the attack on novelist Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed in the neck and body live on stage at a lecture in New York on Friday, “appalling.”
“We’re all praying for his speedy recovery. And we’re thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping him so swiftly,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to talk on Friday night following an attack that was denounced by authors and politicians throughout the world as an attack on the right to free speech.
“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
At the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, Rushdie, 75, was being presented to speak to a large audience about artistic freedom when a guy rushed the stage and lunged at the novelist, who has had a bounty on his head since the late 1980s.
Attendees who were in shock assisted in removing the man from Rushdie, who had fallen to the ground. The attacker was detained by a trooper from the New York State Police, who was on duty to provide protection. Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old Fairview, New Jersey, man with a ticket to the event, was named by police as the suspect.
“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,” said Bradley Fisher, who was in the audience. “People were screaming and crying out and gasping.”
Rushdie was treated by a doctor in the crowd until emergency personnel could arrive, according to the police. The moderator of the gathering, Henry Reese, experienced a slight head injury. According to the police, they are collaborating with federal authorities to identify a motive. The employed weapon was not described.
Before relocating to the UK, Rushdie was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now Mumbai, and has long received death threats for his fourth book, “The Satanic Verses.”
The book, according to some Muslims, contains blasphemous parts. Upon its publication in 1988 in a number of nations with sizable Muslim populations, it was outlawed.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran at the time, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, a few months later, urging Muslims to execute the novelist and anybody involved in the book’s release for blasphemy.
Rushdie, who referred to his book as “pretty mild,” spent almost ten years in hiding. The novel’s Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was assassinated in 1991. Rushdie has been living relatively openly in recent years since the Iranian government said in 1998 that it would no longer support the fatwa.
Millions of dollars have been raised as part of a bounty for Rushdie’s assassination by Iranian organizations, some of which are government-affiliated. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, also declared the fatwa to be “irrevocable” in 2019.
In 2016, donations totaling $600,000 were made by the semi-official Fars News Agency of Iran and other media outlets to raise the bounty. In their article about the incident on Friday, Fars referred to Rushdie as an apostate who “insulted the prophet.”