British novelist Salman Rushdie, who issued the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa to waste his blood in 1989 because of his novel “The Satanic Verses”, on a respirator after several hours of surgery after he was stabbed in New York, according to Reuters.
Rushdie, 75, was present at the Chautauqua Cultural Institute in northwest New York, on Friday, when a man stepped onto the stage and rushed toward Rushdie before stabbing him several times in what the United States described as “a heinous assault and appalling violence.”
The “New York Times” quoted his agent, Andrew Wylie, as saying that “the news is not good” and that “Salman may lose one of his eyes, his arm has been cut nerves and his liver has been stabbed and damaged.”
Immediately after he was attacked on the stage of a cultural center in Chutokoa, northwest New York, Rushdie was flown by helicopter to the UPMC Hamot Surgical Center in Pennsylvania, where he underwent emergency surgery, his agent said on Twitter, promising to provide regular information about Rushdie’s health, who lives in New York several years ago after obtaining American citizenship in 2016.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States and the world witnessed “a heinous attack on writer Salman Rushdie, and this act of violence is appalling.”
“All of us in the Biden-Harris administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are grateful to the good citizens and first responders for helping Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for their continued rapid and effective work,” he added in a statement.
Karl Levan, a political science professor who was in the hall, told AFP by phone that a man rushed to the podium where Rushdie was sitting and “stabbed him violently several times.” The witness said that the attacker “tried to kill Salman Rushdie.”
For their part, the police did not provide details about Rushdie’s health condition, only saying that he underwent surgery.
Police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairfield, New Jersey, while his motives remain unclear. The police indicated that Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and stomach. A number of people rushed to the platform and pinned the suspect to the ground, before being arrested by a security officer.
A doctor who was among those present gave Rushdie first aid before the ambulances arrived.
In international situations, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday his solidarity with Rushdie, stressing, “Today we are with him more than ever.”
“For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has personified freedom and the fight against obscurantism… His struggle is our struggle, a global struggle. Today, we stand with him more than ever,” Macron wrote on Twitter.
For his part, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, condemned the “appalling” attack against the writer. In a tweet, Johnson condemned the attack on Rushdie, “while exercising a right we must not stop defending,” referring to freedom of expression.
In turn, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said he was appalled by this attack, adding, through his spokesman, that “words can in no way be answered with violence.”
At around 11:00 (1500 GMT), the police said in a statement that “a suspect rushed to the stage and attacked Rushdie and his interlocutor. Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and taken by helicopter to a hospital in the area.”
New York Governor Cathy Huchel said Rushdie is alive, describing him as “an individual who has spent decades confronting power with truth”. “We condemn all forms of violence, and we want people to feel free to speak and write the truth,” she added.
An officer in charge of security forces arrested the suspect, while Rushdi’s interlocutor sustained a head injury.
Videos circulated on social media showed people rushing to the writer’s help after he was assaulted.
A witness said on the social media, “A terrible event just happened at the Chutokoa Foundation, Salman Rushdie was attacked on the podium… The place has been evacuated.”
Following the impact, the Chutokoa Foundation, which deals with arts and literature in an area 110 kilometers south of Buffalo, confirmed in a statement that it coordinates with law enforcement and emergency services.
Rushdie became famous after publishing his second novel, “Midnight’s Children” in 1981, which won international accolades and the Booker Prize. The novel deals with India’s march from British colonialism to independence and beyond.
But his novel “The Satanic Verses” published in 1988 sparked a great deal of controversy and the former Iranian Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa to shed his blood. Some Muslims considered the novel offensive to the Prophet Muhammad.
Al-Tawari for a decade
Iranian organizations, some of which are affiliated with the government, raised millions of dollars in reward for Rushdie’s murder. The current Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, said in 2019 that the fatwa was “irreversible,” according to Reuters.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency and other news outlets donated the money in 2016 to increase the reward by $600,000. Fars News Agency described Rushdie as an apostate who “insulted the Prophet” in its report on Friday’s attack.
Rushdie, an atheist, born in India to non-practicing Muslim parents, was forced to hide after a financial reward was allocated to whoever kills him, which is still valid.
The British government placed Rushdie under police protection in the United Kingdom, and his translators and publishers were killed or attempted murders. In 1991, the Japanese, Hitoshi Igarashi, who had translated his book The Satanic Verses, was stabbed to death.
Rushdie remained hidden for about a decade, and he changed his place of residence several times, and he was unable to inform his children of his place of residence. Rushdie did not resume his public appearances until the late nineties of the last century, after Iran announced that it did not support his assassination.
Rushdie currently resides in New York and is an activist in defending freedom of expression. He strongly defended the French satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” after Islamists targeted it in a 2015 attack, during which they liquidated its employees, especially members of the editorial board.
The newspaper had republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which provoked angry reactions in the Islamic world.
Threats and boycotts continued to haunt Rushdie’s literary occasions, and his 2007 knighthood in Britain sparked protests in Iran and Pakistan, where a minister said the honor justified suicide bombings.
However, the fatwa on wasting his blood did not discourage Rushdie from writing and preparing his memoirs in a novel entitled “Joseph Anton,” which is the pseudonym he adopted when he was gone, and he wrote it in the third person.
His novel “Midnight’s Children” of more than 600 pages has been adapted for theater and the silver screen, and his books have been translated into more than 40 languages.
In the fall of 2018, Rushdie said, “It’s been 31 years.” So many other reasons to be afraid, other people to be killed…”.
InterAmerica’s president, Susan Nossel, declared that the free speech advocacy group was “shocked” by the “appalling” attack.
“Rushdi emailed me Friday morning, hours before the attack, to help find housing for Ukrainian writers looking for a safe haven from the great dangers they face,” Nossel said in a statement.
She expressed the Foundation’s “solidarity” with “Salman the brave”, wishing him a “speedy and complete recovery”. “We express our hope and conviction that his pioneering voice cannot and will not be silenced,” she added.
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