New York, Aug 12 (EFE).- Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage on Friday while participating in an event in Chautauqua, a town in upstate New York, according to media reports and an author and eyewitness to the incident.
Initial reports indicate the Indian-born British and American writer was stabbed, but his condition remains unknown. He has reported been taken by helicopter to a hospital and his alleged attacker – a male suspect – has been arrested.
In photos and videos published on social media, a person identified as Rushdie can be seen on the ground and being attended to on stage.
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?”
Local police did not respond to a request by Efe for information.
“We are deeply concerned by the news that former PEN America President, @SalmanRushdie, was attacked today just before giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. We condemn the attack and wish him a fast recovery,” PEN International, an association of writers that defends freedom of expression worldwide, said on Twitter.
The 75-year-old Rushdie has faced death threats for decades over his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” which many Muslims regard as blasphemous against the Quran and insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.
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 that combines fictional elements, philosophical reflexion and humor, was banned in Iran, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and other countries.
The winner of the prestigious 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, a cultural center located in the southwestern part of New York state. EFE