Rushdie’s attacker identified; agent says author on ventilator, may lose eye
(Update 1: Tops with seven grafs providing info on attacker, Rushdie’s condition)
New York, Aug 12 (EFE).- The suspect in Friday’s onstage stabbing of acclaimed author Salman Rushdie at a literary event in upstate New York has been identified as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man who has been taken into custody, a New York State Police spokesman said at a press conference.
The alleged assailant is a resident of Fairview, New Jersey, the spokesman said in Jamestown, a small city in the southwestern part of New York state where Matar is being detained.
For now, officials have “no indication of a motive” for the attack, the spokesman said.
The Indian-born British and American author was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen and remains in surgery at a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he had been airlifted hours earlier from the Chautauqua Institution, a cultural center located in the southwestern part of New York state.
No further information on Rushdie’s condition was available at that time.
But Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said shortly before 7 pm that the author was on a ventilator and unable to speak.
“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,” he added.
The 75-year-old winner of the United Kingdom’s prestigious Booker Prize has faced death threats for decades over his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” which many Muslims regard as blasphemous and insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s then-supreme leader, issued a fatwa (religious decree) in 1989 that called for Rushdie’s assassination.
The author has lived ever since under the protection of police or bodyguards.
“The Satanic Verses,” a novel inspired by the life of the Prophet Muhammad that like other works of Rushdie’s contains elements of magical realism, was banned in Iran, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and other countries.
The winner of the Booker Prize for his 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children” has lived for around two decades in New York City and was to have given a speech on Friday at the Chautauqua Institution.
Carl LeVan, the author of the 2019 non-fiction book “Contemporary Nigerian Politics: Competition in a Time of Transition & Terror,” said on Twitter that he had witnessed the attack and that Rushdie had been repeatedly stabbed.
“Just witnessed the horrific assassination attempt on #SalmanRushdie’s life. He was stabbed multiple times before attacker was subdued by security. Some intrepid members of audience went on stage. What courage will be expected of us next to defend even the smallest freedoms?” EFE