Rushdie on Ventilator; Stabber Charged With Attempted Murder

Salman Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses led to death threats in Iran in the 1980s, is likely to lose an eye and has sustained damage to his arm and liver following an attack by a 24-year-old man from New Jersey

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Salman Rushdie, in 2013.
Salman Rushdie, in 2013.Credit: Joe Kalmar/ AFP

The man suspected of stabbing British author Salman Rushdie has been charged with attempted murder and assault and has been remanded in custody without bail.

New York state police said on Saturday that 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, was being detained at Chautauqua County Jail.
The 75-year-old Indian-born author is on a ventilator and may lose an eye and has sustained damage to his arm and liver following the attack on Friday, his agent said.

Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses led to death threats in Iran in the 1980s, was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, 65 miles from Buffalo in New York state, when he was attacked.

He was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen, according to police, before he was taken to hospital.

According to the NYT, Rushdie's agent Andrew Wylie said he is on a ventilator and unable to speak. Mr Wylie added the news was "not good" and the author will "likely lose one eye". He said the nerves in Rushdie's arm were severed in the attack and his liver was "stabbed and damaged".

Major Eugene Staniszweski of New York state police said late on Friday: "Earlier today at approximately 10.47am, guest speaker Salman Rushdie, aged 75, and Ralph Henry Reese, age 73, had just arrived on stage at the institution.

"Shortly thereafter, the suspect jumped onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie, stabbing him at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen.

"Several members of the staff at the institution and audience members rushed the suspect and took him to the ground, and shortly thereafter, a trooper who was at the institution took the suspect into custody with the assistance of a Chautauqua county sheriff's deputy.

The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims view it as blasphemous, and its publication prompted Iran's then-leader Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa calling for his death.

Mr Reese, from the City of Asylum organization, a residency program for writers living in exile under threat of persecution, suffered a minor head injury.

They were due to discuss the role of the U.S. as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.

A video posted to Twitter by an AP reporter in the audience showed a man dressed in black being led away from the stage. New York governor Kathy Hochul told a press conference that a state police officer saved Rushdie's life.

She added: "Here is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power, someone who's been out there unafraid, despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life."

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