Salman Rushdie stabbed onstage, rushed to hospital

Police say male suspect attacked British author in the neck at a literary event on Friday in western New York state


AFP August 12, 2022
Author Salman Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, US, August 12, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK:

British author Salman Rushdie, whose writings made him the target of Iranian death threats, was attacked and stabbed in the neck at a literary event on Friday in western New York state.

Police said in a statement that a male suspect stormed the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer, with the writer suffering "an apparent stab wound to the neck".

He was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, police said, adding that "his condition is not yet known".

A state trooper assigned to the event at the Chautauqua Institution, where Rushdie was due to give a talk, took the suspect into custody, while the interviewer suffered an injury to the head.

Police gave no details about the suspect's identity or any probable motive.

Social media footage showed people rushing to Rushdie's aid and administrating emergency medical care.

"A most horrible event just happened (and) the amphitheater is evacuated," one witness said on social media.

The Chautauqua Institution — which puts on arts and literary programming in a lakeside community some seventy miles (110 kilometers) south of Buffalo — said in a statement that it was coordinating with law enforcement and emergency officials following the attack.

A decade in hiding

Rushdie, 75, was propelled into the spotlight with his second novel "Midnight's Children" in 1981, which won international praise and Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for its portrayal of post-independence India.

But his 1988 blasphemous book "The Satanic Verses" sparked a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for his death by Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Rushdie, who was born in India to non-practicing Muslims and today identifies as an atheist, was forced to go underground as a bounty was put on his head — which remains today.

He was granted police protection by the government in Britain, where he was at school and where he made his home, following the murder or attempted murder of his translators and publishers.

He spent nearly a decade in hiding, moving houses repeatedly and being unable to tell his children where he lived.

Rushdie only began to emerge from his life on the run in the late 1990s after Iran in 1998 said it would not support his assassination.

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