British author Salman Rushdie, whose writings made him the target of Iranian death threats that forced him into hiding, was attacked on stage in western New York state on Friday.
“A male suspect ran onto the stage and assaulted Rushdie and an interviewer. Rushdie suffered a significant stab wound to the neck and was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital. His condition is not yet known,” police said in a statement. declaration.
Rushdie fell to the ground as the man attacked him, then was surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, seemingly to send more blood to his upper body as the attacker was stopped, according to a witness who attended the lecture.
Video footage posted to social media showed people coming to his rescue after he was attacked during the Chautauqua County event, in which police confirmed a stabbing but refused to immediately identify the victim.
“A terrible event has just happened at #chautauquainstitution – Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage at #chq2022. The amphitheater has been evacuated,” a witness said on social media.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office said “we can confirm there was a stabbing,” without providing further details.
Rushdie’s condition was not immediately known.
The author, now 75, came into the limelight with his second novel “Midnight’s Children” in 1981, which won international acclaim and the prestigious British Booker Prize for his portrayal of post-independence India.
But his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” took the spotlight beyond his imagination when it led to a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for his death by Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The novel was regarded by some Muslims as disrespectful to the prophet Muhammad.
Rushdie, who was born in India to non-practicing Muslims and is an atheist himself, was forced to go underground when a bounty was put on his head – which it still is today.
In hiding for a decade
He received police protection from the British government, where he attended school and where he made his home, following the murder or attempted murder of his translators and publishers.
He was in hiding for nearly ten years, moving repeatedly and unable to tell his children where he lived.
Rushdie only began to flee from his life in the late 1990s after Iran said in 1998 it would not support his assassination.
He now lives in New York and is an advocate for free speech, most notably launching a strong defense of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after its staff was gunned down by Islamists in Paris in 2015.
The magazine had published drawings of Mohammed that provoked outrage from Muslims around the world.
Threats and boycotts continue against literary events Rushdie attends, and his knighthood in 2007 sparked protests in Iran and Pakistan, where a minister said the honor justified suicide attacks.
However, the fatwa failed to suppress Rushdie’s writing and inspired his memoir “Joseph Anton”, named after his alias while in hiding and written in the third person.
Over 600 pages, Midnight’s Children has been adapted for stage and screen, and his books have been translated into more than 40 languages.