The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie at a literary event pleaded not guilty to attempted murder on Saturday as the critically injured author appeared to be improving in hospital.

Hadi Matar, 24, was arraigned in New York state, and prosecutors described how Rushdie was stabbed approximately 10 times in what they said was a premeditated, premeditated attack.

After the attack on stage on Friday, Rushdie was airlifted to hospital and underwent emergency surgery.

His agent, Andrew Wiley, said the writer was on a ventilator and was in danger of losing an eye, but in an update on Saturday he told the New York Times that Rushdie had started talking again, believing his condition had improved.

The author Satanic poems and Children of the northRushdie went into hiding for years after Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered his assassination.

And while Friday’s stabbing sparked international outrage, it also drew applause from Islamist hardliners in Iran and Pakistan.

President Joe Biden on Saturday called it a “vicious” attack and prayed for Rushdie’s recovery.

VIDEO: Salman Rushdie on ventilator after being injured

“Salman Rushdie—with his understanding of humanity, with his unrivaled sense of history, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced—stands for basic, universal ideals. the truth Courage. Resilience,” Biden said in a statement.

Matar is being held without bail and has been formally charged with attempted second-degree murder and assault with a weapon. Police have not released any information about his background or what might have motivated him.

Entry into force of the death sentence

The 75-year-old novelist has lived under a legal death sentence since 1989, when Iran’s then-supreme leader Khomeini issued a religious decree, or fatwa, ordering Muslims to kill the writer.

After the publication of the novel, a fatwa followed Satanic poemswhich angered some Muslims who said it was blasphemous because of its depiction of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

In a recent interview with the German magazine Stern, Rushdie talked about how, after so many years of living with death threats, his life is “normalizing.”

“Whatever it was, eight or nine years, it was pretty serious,” he told Stern in New York.

“But since I’ve been living in America since 2000, there really hasn’t been any problems in all that time.”

Rushdie moved to New York in the early 2000s and became a US citizen in 2016. Despite the constant threat to his life, he was increasingly seen in public – often without visible protection.

Security was not particularly tight at Friday’s event at the Chautauqua institution, which hosts arts programs in the quiet lakeside community near Buffalo.

Related: Key dates in the life of the British writer Salman Rushdie

Witnesses said Rushdie was sitting on stage preparing to speak when Matar jumped out of the audience and managed to stab him before he was tackled to the ground by staff and other audience members.

According to a Lebanese official, Matar’s family comes from the village of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, although he was born in the United States.

An AFP reporter who visited the village on Saturday was told that Matar’s parents had divorced and his father, a shepherd, still lived there.

Journalists who approached the father’s house were let go.

Matar was “born and raised in the United States,” the head of the local municipality, Ali Kasem Tahfa, told AFP.


Satanic poems and its author remain deeply inflamed in Iran. When asked by AFP on Saturday, no one in Tehran’s main book market dared to openly condemn the stabbings.

“I was very happy to hear the news,” said Mehrab Bigdeli, a man in his 50s who is studying to become a Muslim priest.

There was a similar message in Iran’s conservative media, with one state newspaper saying that the “devil’s neck” had been “cut with a razor.”

In Pakistan, a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party, which organized the violent protests, said Rushdie “deserves to be killed.”

There was shock and outrage elsewhere.

British leader Boris Johnson said he was “shocked” and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack “reprehensible” and “cowardly”.

Messages also poured in from the literary world, with Rushdie’s close friend Ian McEwan calling him “an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists around the world”.

Rushdie came into the limelight with his second novel, Children of the northin 1981, which won international acclaim for its portrayal of post-independence India.

But Satanic poems, published in 1988, changed his life. The resulting fatwa forced him into hiding for nearly a decade, repeatedly moving houses and unable to tell even his children where he lived.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Author Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York

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