Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York

NY police say Salman Rushdie suffered a stab wound to the neck

By: AFP
Published: 09:28 PM, 12 Aug, 2022
Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York
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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.

Video footage posted on social media showed people rushing to his aid after he was attacked at the event in Chautauqua County, with police confirming a stabbing while declining to immediately identify the victim.

"A most horrible event just happened at the Chautauqua Institution. The amphitheatre is evacuated," one witness said on social media.

Chautauqua County Sheriff's office said "we can confirm there was a stabbing," without giving further details.

The author, now 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 book "The Satanic Verses" brought attention beyond his imagination when it sparked a fatwa calling for his death by Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The novel was considered by some Muslims as disrespectful of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

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

- A decade in hiding -

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.

Now living in New York, he is an advocate of freedom of speech, notably launching a strong defence of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after its staff were gunned down by Islamists in Paris in 2015.

Threats and boycotts continue against literary events that Rushdie attends, and his knighthood in 2007 sparked protests in Iran and Pakistan, where a government minister said the honour justified suicide bombings.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.