(CNN)Salman Rushdie — a celebrated author and winner of the world’s top literary prizes whose writings generated death threats — was attacked and stabbed at least twice on stage Friday before a lecture he was scheduled to give at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, State Police said.
Rushdie was on a ventilator Friday evening and could not speak, his agent, Andrew Wylie, told the New York Times.
“Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Wylie told the Times. “The news is not good.” (CNN)
Several hardline Iranian newspapers poured praise on Saturday on the person who attacked and seriously wounded author Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” had drawn death threats from Iran since 1989.
The hardline Kayhan newspaper, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote:
“A thousand bravos … to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York,” adding, “The hand of the man who tore the neck of God’s enemy must be kissed”.
The Asr Iran news site on Saturday carried an often cited quote by Khamenei that said the “arrow” shot by Khomeini “will one day hit the target”.
A wealthy Iranian religious organization offered $2.7 million reward to anyone who carried out Khomeini’s fatwa. It increased the amount to $3.3 million in 2012.
The headline of the hardline Vatan Emrooz newspaper read: “Knife in Salman Rushdie’s neck”.
The Khorasan daily carried the headline: “Satan on the way to hell”.
World Leaders and authors expressed shock, support and defenses of free expression:
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet that he was “appalled” by the incident and expressed support for Rushdie’s recovery. “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay,” Johnson said Friday.
French President Emmanuel Macron also tweeted his support for Rushdie following the attack. “[For] 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side,” Macron said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also condemned the attack, calling it “sickening and cowardly. This senseless violence against a celebrated author is also an assault on global freedom of expression and deserves unequivocal condemnation. May he have a full recovery,” Albanese added.
Aatish Taseer, a British-American writer and journalist who had his Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card — a form of permanent residency available to people of Indian origin — revoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, said that he was “devastated” by the news. “Devastated by the news about @SalmanRushdie. He was the first writer I ever met and his determination to defend his freedom (and that of others) in the face of religious extremism has been a constant inspiration. I know he will be ok. He has to be,” Taseer said.CNN
The suspect in the attack has been identified as Hadi Matar from Fairview, New Jersey. There has not yet been any official reaction from Iran to the attack. Authorities are also working to obtain search warrants for several items found at the scene, including a backpack and electronic devices, Staniszewski said. Authorities believe the suspect was alone but are investigating “to make sure that was the case,” Staniszewski added.