VIDEO: Salman Rushdie on ventilator after stabbing

Salman Rushdie is the British author of 'The Satanic Verses', a book which made Iran's first supreme leader issue a fatwa against him.

Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after an Iranian fatwa ordered his killing, was on a ventilator and could lose an eye following a stabbing attack at a literary event in New York state Friday.

The British author of “The Satanic Verses”, which sparked fury among some Muslims, had to be airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery following the attack.

His agent said in a statement obtained by The New York Times that “the news is not good.”

“Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” said agent Andrew Wylie, who added that Rushdie could not speak.

Carl LeVan, an American University politics professor attending the literary event, told AFP that the assailant had rushed onto the stage where Rushdie was seated and “stabbed him repeatedly and viciously.”

This video is no longer available.

Several people ran to the stage and took the suspect to the ground before a trooper present at the event arrested him. A doctor in the audience administered medical care until emergency first responders arrived.

New York state police identified the suspected attacker as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairfield, New Jersey, adding that he stabbed Rushdie in the neck as well as the abdomen. 

The motive for the stabbing remains unclear.

An interviewer onstage, 73-year-old Ralph Henry Reese, suffered a facial injury but has been released from the hospital, police said. 

The attack took place at the Chautauqua Institution, which hosts arts programs in a tranquil lakeside community 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Buffalo city.

“What many of us witnessed today was a violent expression of hate that shook us to our core,” the Chautauqua Institution said in a statement.

LeVan, a Chautauqua regular, said the suspect “was trying to stab him as many times as possible before he was subdued,” adding that he believed the man “was trying to kill” Rushdie.

“There were gasps of horror and panic from the crowd,” the professor said.

Here are key dates in the life of the British writer Salman Rushdie: 

– June 19, 1947: He is born in Bombay, now Mumbai, in India. 

– 1981: His second novel, “Midnight’s Children”, wins the Booker Prize. In 2008 it is named the “Booker of Bookers” after winning a public vote for the best Booker-winning novel in 40 years of the award. 

– 1988: “The Satanic Verses” is released and swiftly banned in Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Africa and other countries. It is banned for import to India.

– 1989: Iran issues a fatwa, or religious decree, that calls for Rushdie to be killed for insulting Islam in “The Satanic Verses”. He is driven underground and for over a decade lives between safe houses and under the pseudonym Joseph Anton.

– 1990: Newsweek publishes an essay by Rushdie, “In Good Faith”, in which he seeks to defend the novel. 

– 1993: He participates in the founding the International Parliament of Writers aimed at protecting writers and freedom of speech. It is dissolved in 2003. 

– 2005: “Shalimar the Clown” is published, with many narrative threads revolving around Kashmir. 

– 2007: He is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature, prompting widespread Muslim protests, notably in Pakistan.

– 2009: Iran says the fatwa is “still valid”. 

– 2012: Publication of his memoir “Joseph Anton”, looking back at his years underground. 

– 2015: “Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights”, is released.

– 2016: Having lived in New York for around 20 years he becomes a US citizen.

– 2020: He is short-listed for the Booker Prize for “Quichotte”, a modern version of the Cervantes classic. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Author Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York

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