Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born novelist who went into hiding for years after Iran ordered him killed for his writings in 1989, was stabbed in the neck and stomach as he was about to give a lecture in New York state on Friday. to the police.

A man rushed onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institute and attacked Rushdie as he was being introduced to give a speech on creative freedom to an audience of hundreds, an eyewitness said.

The suspect was identified by police as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who bought a pass to the event.

A New York State Police officer who was providing security at the event arrested the attacker.

Eyewitness Brad Fisher told Reuters about what he saw.

“I was shocked and stunned, you know, shocked and stunned. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My first reaction was this must be some kind of demonstration or stunt or something. And then, no, it became so real, so fast. And then it was scary.”

Rushdie was airlifted to the hospital and after several hours of surgery was on a ventilator and unable to speak.

A motive has not yet been determined and it was unclear what weapon was used.

Rushdie, who was born into an Indian Muslim family, faced death threats for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims believe contains blasphemous passages.

In 1989, a year after the book’s publication, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader at the time, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to kill the novelist for blasphemy.

Rushdie was in hiding for many years. The Iranian government said in 1998 that it would no longer support the fatwa, and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years.

Although Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said back in 2019 that the fatwa was still in effect.

Rushdie became an American citizen in 2016 and lives in New York.

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