UNITED STATES: New York State Governor Kathy Hochul noted that author Salman Rushdie, who has “spent decades speaking truth to power” is “alive” after being attacked at an event here in New York has been airlifted to safety and authorities are monitoring the situation.
A man stormed the stage while Rushdie was being introduced during a Chautauqua Institution event in Western New York. He fell through the barrier onto the stage and was seen with blood on his hands. The audience turned on the attacker and Rushdie was then treated on stage after the attack.
“It is heartbreaking to learn that within the last hour, a prominent individual, Salman Rushdie, was attacked on a stage in western New York just before he was about to give a speech. He is alive, he has been transported, airlifted to safety,” Hochul said.
“We’re monitoring the situation. Rushdie is getting the care he needs at a local hospital. I’ll be giving more information on the identity of the perpetrator and the case that’ll be brought in that part of the state,” she added.
British author Salman Rushdie, whose writings made him the target of Iranian death threats over his book The Satanic Versus. He was forced to hide himself after that and was attacked on stage Friday in western New York state.
The Associated Press reported that its reporter witnessed a man attack the podium at the Chautauqua Institute. The assailant either punched or stabbed Rushdie during the introduction, the AP report said.
The author fell to the floor and the man was restrained, according to news agency PTI. Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who lifted his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest, the AP reported.
Rushdie was taken to hospital by medical helicopter, videos from the area showed. The Chautauqua Institution is located in a rural part of New York, known for its summer lectures. Rushdie has spoken there before.
British writer William Dalrymple, based in Delhi, was among the first to respond and hoped Rushdie was unhurt.
“Terrible day for literature, for freedom of speech and for writers everywhere. Poor Salman: I pray he is not injured and recovers quickly,” he tweeted.
Rushdie, 75, faced threats in particular in the late 1980s over his book The Satanic Verses, which has been banned in Iran since 1988 because it is said to blaspheme Islam. A bounty was also placed on his head by Iran’s Supreme Leader, although in 1998 the Iranian government said it was not seeking to enforce this “fatwa” or edict.
After an attempt to murder his translators and publishers, he was given police protection by the government in Britain, where he stayed at a school and settled there itself.
He spent almost a decade in hiding, repeatedly moving houses and 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 declared in 1998 that it would not support his assassination.
A British citizen of Indian origin, Rushdie has been living in the US for the past 20 years. His first novel was published in 1975, but one of his seminal works is about modern India, Midnight’s Children (1981), for which he won the Booker Prize.
After the controversy over his fourth book The Satanic Verses (1988), he remained out of the public eye. But despite the threats, he produced several novels during the 1990s.