Author Salman Rushdie has been airlifted to hospital after being stabbed multiple times in the neck on stage as he prepared to give a speech in upstate New York.
The writer, 75, was attacked as he was being introduced to the stage for the CHQ 2022 event in Chautauqua, near Buffalo, on Friday morning.
Witnesses claim that he was stabbed ten to fifteen times, as a man approached him from behind before rushing the stage.
He was attending for a discussion of the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.
Witnesses claimed that his attacker managed to walk off the stage after the stabbing, before being restrained, as people rushed to assist Rushdie – who had been seated when he was assaulted.
Blood was spattered on the wall behind where Rushdie had been attacked, with some also seen on a chair.
His current condition is not known, and a man has been arrested by New York state troopers. The interviewer speaking to Rushdie also suffered a minor head injury.
During a press conference about red flag laws, Governor Kathy Hochul called the attack on Rushdie ‘heartbreaking’ before confirming that he is ‘alive.’
She added that he is ‘getting the care he needs at a local hospital’, and that a state police trooper ‘stood up and saved his life’ after the attack.
One witness told the New York Times that Rushdie had been stabbed ‘multiple times’ and had been lying in a pool of his own blood.
Rita Landman offered her assistance after the incident, adding that he appeared to be alive and did not receive CPR.
Landman said: ‘People were saying, ‘He has a pulse, he has a pulse he has a pulse.’
Roger Warner of Cleveland, Ohio, was sitting on the front row when the attack took place, adding: ‘He was covered with blood and there was blood running down onto the floor.
‘I just saw blood all around his eyes and running down his cheek.’
Rushdie’s London-based son Zafar, 42, is aware of the incident and his father has been seen being transported by air ambulance after the attack.
People rushed to assist the author after the attack, with the attacker being restrained by witnesses. The motive for the stabbing is currently unknown
Rushdie was airlifted to hospital after receiving medical assistance from those at the event near Buffalo, in Upstate New York
Medics rushed to the scene to take the author to hospital to treat his injuries. A Chautauqua Institution spokesperson, where the event was taking place, said: ‘We are dealing with an emergency situation. I can share no further details at this time.’
The authors suspected attacker was pinned down by witnesses and security staff moments after the attack. Rushdie’s son Zafar, 42, is aware of the incident
Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were then evacuated as his alleged attacker was taken into custody.
John Bulette, 85, who witnessed the attack said: ‘There was a huge security lapse. That somebody could get that close without any intervention was frightening.’
An usher at the amphitheater claims that the security at the Institution was ‘lax’ and that no additional measures were in place for Mr Rushdie’s visit.
Kyle Doershuk, 20, said: ‘It’s very open, it’s very accessible, it’s a very relaxed environment, in my opinion something like this was just waiting to happen.’
British-born Booker Prize winning author Sir Salman Rushdie (pictured in 2019) got death threats and was issued a fatwah by Iran for his 1988 novel, the Satanic Verses. He has lived in the U.S. since 2000 and was today preparing to give a lecture about America being a haven for writers in exile
A Chautauqua Institution spokesperson added: ‘We are dealing with an emergency situation. I can share no further details at this time.’
Rabbi Charles Savenor claims that the entire attack lasted around 20 seconds.
He said: ‘This guy ran on to platform and started pounding on Mr. Rushdie. At first you’re like, “What’s going on?’”
And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten.’
A representative for the Iranian interests section at the embassy of Pakistan in Washington D.C. declined to comment on the attack.
The embassy diplomatically represents the government of Iran in the United States.
They told the New York Times ‘We are not getting involved in this’, before hanging up and refusing to give a name.
The author was knighted in 2007 in Britain ‘for services to literature’ by his friend, then Prime Minister Tony Blair.
His last piece of writing was about an assassination attempt, serializing a novella called The Seventh Wave on Sub Stack, which appeared to focus on spies and assassinations.
Rushdie has previously received death threats for his writing, with his book the Satanic Verses which supposedly insulted the Prophet Mohammed and The Koran.
He wrote the Satanic Verses, which resulted in a culture war being sparked in 1988 in Britain – with protests taking place in the UK along with book burnings.
Pakistan banned the book, and he was issued a fatwa – a death sentence – by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989.
Khomeini called for the death of Rushdie and his publishers, and also called for Muslims to point him out to those who could kill him if they could not themselves.
The fatwa, or ‘spiritual opinion’, followed a wave of book burnings in Britain and rioting across the Muslim world which lead to the deaths of 60 people and hundreds being injured.
Rushdie was attacked on stage ahead of his speech in Chautauqua, near Buffalo, with witnesses claiming that he was ‘punched and stabbed’
Blood appeared to be spattered on the wall behind where Rushdie had been attacked, with some also seen on a chair. New York State Police confirmed that Rushdie was stabbed in the neck
Medics attended to Rushdie after the attack, with witnesses saying a man ‘punched and stabbed’ the author as he was announced on stage
Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie spent years in hiding after being issued ‘spiritual’ death threat by Iran
Sir Salman Rushdie is a Booker Prize-winning author and novelist.
The 75-year-old was born in India, and his writing is often based around the themes of connections and migrations between Western and Eastern civilizations.
He won the Booker Prize in 1981 for his second novel, Midnight’s Children. His writing has spawned 30 book-length studies, and over 700 articles on his writing.
Rushdie’s writings have broadly been acclaimed to the genres of magical realism and historical fiction.
He has been living in the US since 2000, and he was named a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University in 2015.
He has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, including for Midnight’s Children, in 1983 for Shame, in 1988 for The Satanic Versus, in 1995 for The Moor’s Last Sign, and in 2019 for Quichotte.
Rushdie, 75, is an Indian-born acclaimed author and novelist
Rushdie was put under round-the-clock security from 1989 to 2002, at the expense of the British taxpayer, when a $3million bounty was put on his head.
He was forced to go into hiding for a decade with police protection, and previously reported that he received a ‘sort of Valentines card’ from Iran each year letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him.
In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
After the attack today Rushdie, who moved to the US in 2000, was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest.
The author previously complained about having ‘too much’ security while attending other events.
He told reporters a the Prague Writer’s Festival: ‘To be here and to find a large security operation around me has actually felt a little embarrassing.
‘I thought it was really unnecessary and kind of excessive and was certainly not arranged on my request.
‘I spent a great deal of time before I came here saying that I really didn’t want that.
‘So I was very surprised to arrive here and discover a really quite substantial operation, because it felt like being in a time warp, that I had gone back in time several years.’
Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, with their current CEO Suzanne Nossel issuing a statement which said: PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie, who was reportedly stabbed multiple times while on stage speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York.
‘We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil.
‘Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning Salman had emailed me to help with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge from the grave perils they face.
‘Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered. He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced.
‘While we do not know the origins or motives of this savage attack, all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for legitimizing this an assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting to readers.
‘Our thoughts and passions now lie with our dauntless Salman, wishing him a full and speedy recovery.
‘We hope and believe fervently that his essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.’
Hitoshi Igarashi, who translated The Satanic Verses into Japanese for Rushdie, was stabbed to death on the campus where he taught literature.
Dozens of onlookers quickly rushed to the stage to try to apprehend the suspect, and help Rushdie after he was attacked in front of hundreds
He was urgently taken to hospital via air ambulance, with his current condition unknown. Rushdie was reportedly stabbed ten to fifteen times, suffering knife wounds in the neck
The Seventh Wave: Rushdie’s last published work focused on spies and assassinations
Salman Rushdie was serializing a novella called The Seventh Wave, on Sub Stack, which appeared to have a heavy focus on spies and organized killings.
His latest piece of writing referenced men in ‘sodden balaclavas’:
The four men in black wearing sodden balaclavas are out in the open, closing in. ANNA and FRANCIS are on the terrace of the house, holding guns.
FIRST MAN (shouting)
Come down, Anna, Nobody gonna hurt you. And the other individual we don’t require.
ANNA (shouting back)
Hello, boys! Would you like a refreshing drink?
(They come closer.)
SECOND MAN (also shouting)
Don’t you crack wise now, Anna. No, we do not need no fucking drink. Maybe you didn’t notice it’s wet out.
ANNA (still shouting)
We have towels. You need to dry your hair?
They are within range now. This is too easy. We can take them all.
I don’t know, Anna. I can’t do it.
Credit: Sub Stack
Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator of the book, was knifed in his apartment in Milan.
The novel’s Norwegian publisher William Nygaard, was shot three times outside his home and left for dead in October 1993, but survived the attack.
In Turkey, the book’s translator, Aziz Nesin, was the target of an arson attack on a hotel that killed 37.
Rushdie previously wrote a 655-page fatwa memoir, which was nominated for the UK’s top non- fiction award, the Samuel Johnson prize.
During the fatwa he lived in permanent terror and at one point thought his ex-wife Clarissa Luard and their son Zafar, who was nine at the time, had been killed by assassins or kidnapped.
In 1998 Iran’s reformist president relaxed the fatwa and said it had no intention of tracking Rushdie down and killing him.
Technically it still stands but is unlikely to be enforced.
The Index on Censorship, an organization promoting free expression, said money was raised to boost the reward for his killing as recently as 2016, underscoring that the fatwa for his death still stands.
He has has two children from his four marriages – his other son is called Milan – but has been linked with many other women including Indian model Riya Sen.
Prince Charles also reportedly refused to support the author during his fatwa because he thought the book was offensive to Muslims.
In an article for Vanity Fair magazine, Martin Amis claimed that the Prince’s views caused a row at a dinner party after Rushdie was issued with the death sentence by Islamic clerics in 1989.
Amis claims that Charles told him that he would not offer support ‘if someone insults someone else’s deepest convictions’.
Amis remonstrated with him but all Charles did was ‘take it on board’, even though Rushdie is a British-Indian citizen.
Fellow author Stephen King also refused to let stores in America sell his books if they refused to carry The Satanic Verses.
Rushdie has spoken at the Chautauqua Institution before, which is based about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York.
It is known for its summertime lecture series.
New York State Police said in a statement: ‘On August 12, 2022, at about 11 am, a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer.
‘Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital.
‘His condition is not yet known. The interviewer suffered a minor head injury.
‘A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.’
How Salman Rushdie lived under the shadow of a fatwa for 30 years: British author went into hiding when Iran’s spiritual leader ordered he was killed for ‘blasphemous’ The Satanic Verses but he was living a ‘normal life’ in New York before his stabbing
BY JACK WRIGHT
He was first forced into hiding more than 30 years ago by Iran’s theocratic dictatorship after the regime branded The Satanic Verses a work of blasphemy.
From ever-changing safe houses, constant armed guards and a new identity, to finally finding a new home in the US, British author Salman Rushdie has now been stabbed in the neck on stage in New York – the supposed beating heart of free speech and culture.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of the Islamic republic, issued a fatwa – or religious ruling – calling on all Muslims to murder the celebrated atheist author and anyone involved in the publication of The Satanic Verses on February 14, 1989.
Rushdie, now 75, was forced to live under the long shadow the fatwa cast until it was finally lifted by Iran’s hardline regime in 1998.
But for nine years, the writer constantly between safe houses and was protected by round-the-clock armed guards. He even adopted an alias, Joseph Anton – a combination of the first names of two of his favourite writers, Conrad and Chekhov.
The fatwa also led to the murder of the book’s Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi, the targeting of its translators and publishers in Turkey, Norway and Italy, and worldwide riots and book-burnings – while The Satanic Verses itself was banned in many countries.
Sir Salman Rushdie holding a copy of The Satanic Verses during a 1992 news conference in Arlington
Speaking about the controversy with the Mail, Sir Salman said: ‘Being under the fatwa was a jail, but I think that one of the problems is that from the outside it looked glamorous, as I sometimes showed up in places in Jags with people jumping out to open the door and make sure you get in safely and so on. Looks of who the hell does he think he is? Well, from my side it felt like jail.
‘There was this crude argument that I did it in some way for personal advantage, to make myself more famous or to make money. At its most unpleasant it was levelled at me from the Islamic side that the Jews made me do it. They said my [second] wife was Jewish. She wasn’t, she was American.
‘If I had simply wanted to trade on an insult to Islam I could have done it in a sentence rather than writing a 250,000-word novel, a work of fiction.’
Muslim activists beat a burning effigy of Salman Rushdie in New Delhi
‘What you have to remember is that The Satanic Verses is not called Islam the Prophet, it is not called Mohammed, the country is not called Arabia – it all happens in the dream of somebody who is losing their mind.’
What still shocks him is that no radical Muslims in Britain who backed the call for his assassination were ever prosecuted.
‘There were these occasions, like in Manchester, where Muslim leaders said to their congregation, ‘Tell me who in this audience would be ready to kill Rushdie?’ and everyone in the audience raised their hand. And the police thought this was OK.’
He says: ‘Supposing I had been the Queen and an imam said to his congregation, ‘Who would be ready to kill the Queen?’ and everybody raised their hand. Would you think the police would not act?
‘I only use the Queen as an example to dramatize this but it seems odd that when it is a novelist of foreign origin, therefore not completely British in some way, that it was allowed to happen with impunity.’
Rushdie remembers his split from his wife Marianne as being a particularly traumatic time. She claimed that the CIA was aware of Rushdie’s whereabouts and so his cover was blown. When he realized that she was lying he decided to end the relationship.
‘It was very shocking. There simply was a point at which I had to choose whether to be alone in the middle of this hurricane with nobody there for companionship or whether I somehow had to put up with this person in whom it was difficult to have faith.
‘It was horrifying to be told by a policeman that they believed that your wife was lying to you. It is an experience most of us don’t have. And then for her to say that it was the police who were to be blamed and that I shouldn’t trust them sets a kind of mindf*** and I had to make my judgments.
‘It became impossible for me to have faith in her veracity. So in the end I thought it was better to separate.’
In an interview three years ago, he said: ‘Islam was not a thing. No one was thinking in that way. One of the things that has happened is that people in the West are more informed than they used to be’.
He ruefully added: ‘I was 41 back then, now I am 71. Things are fine now. We live in a world where the subject changes very fast. And this is a very old subject. There are now many other things to be frightened about – and other people to kill’.