US: Author Salman Rushdie on ventilator after New York stabbing

What is a fatwa? Salman Rushdie's backstory moves center stage after attack

  What is a fatwa? Salman Rushdie's backstory moves center stage after attack A fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989 over his book 'The Satanic Verses.' But what is a fatwa and how has it affected his life and career?That death sentence — a fatwa — had immediate effects on Rushdie's life, spurring him into hiding for the better part of 10 years and dogging him and others around him who were related to the publication of the book.

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (AP) — Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.

FILE - Salman Rushdie attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York.  Rushdie was  attacked while giving a lecture in western New York. An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage Friday at the Chautauqua Institution as Rushdie was being introduced. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Salman Rushdie attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York. Rushdie was attacked while giving a lecture in western New York. An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage Friday at the Chautauqua Institution as Rushdie was being introduced. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) An officer stands outside a gate of the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) © Provided by Associated Press An officer stands outside a gate of the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday evening, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and an eye he was likely to lose.

Explaining the controversy around 'Satanic Verses,' the book that led to the fatwa against author Salman Rushdie

  Explaining the controversy around 'Satanic Verses,' the book that led to the fatwa against author Salman Rushdie Published in 1988, Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" was decried by some as blasphemous for its portrayal of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.Maxwell, convicted in December of sexually abusing girls and trafficking them in order to have sex with Epstein, was also fined $750,000 and will be on probation for five years after her release.

ADDS NAME OF DETAINED PERSON This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by Matar who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press ADDS NAME OF DETAINED PERSON This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by Matar who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo)

Police identified the attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. He was awaiting arraignment following his arrest at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education center and resort where Rushdie was scheduled to speak. Matar was born a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published.

Author Salman Rushdie on ventilator, could lose eye after stabbing on lecture stage

  Author Salman Rushdie on ventilator, could lose eye after stabbing on lecture stage Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital. "The news is not good," his agent said, adding that he had nerve and liver damage.Rushdie, whose book "The Satanic Verses" sent him undercover out of fear for his life, was preparing to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when Hadi Matar, 24, rushed the stage around 10:45 a.m., attacked him and an interviewer and then started to stab the 75-year-old author, police said.

The motive for the attack was unclear, State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said.

Rushdie’s 1988 novel was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims, who saw a character as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. The book was banned in Iran, where the late leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

Iran’s theocratic government and its state-run media assigned no rationale for Friday's assault. In Tehran, some Iranians interviewed Saturday by The Associated Press praised the attack on an author they believe tarnished the Islamic faith, while others worried it would further isolate their country.

ADDS NAME OF DETAINED PERSON This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by Matar who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press ADDS NAME OF DETAINED PERSON This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by Matar who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo)

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the attacker confront Rushdie on stage and stab or punch him 10 to 15 times as the author was being introduced. Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who was among those who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.”

Salman Rushdie placed under respirator after being stabbed at a conference in the United States

 Salman Rushdie placed under respirator after being stabbed at a conference in the United States © Copyright 2022, L'Obs Salman Rushdie, author of "Satanic Verses" and targets for more than 30 years of a fatwa of Iran, was placed under respirator after having been stabbed on Friday August 12 at the neck and the abdomen in New York State by a man who was arrested. "The news is not good," the British writer's agent Andrew Wylie told the "New York Times.

Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. Reese suffered a facial injury and was treated and released from a hospital, police said. He and Rushdie had planned to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.

A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s lecture, and state police said the trooper made the arrest. But after the attack, some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given the decades of threats against Rushdie and a bounty on his head offering more than $3 million to anyone who killed him.

Law enforcement stand watch outside at the Chautauqua Institution after author Salman Rushdie was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo. (AP Photo/Joshua Goodman) © Provided by Associated Press Law enforcement stand watch outside at the Chautauqua Institution after author Salman Rushdie was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo. (AP Photo/Joshua Goodman)

Rabbi Charles Savenor was among the roughly 2,500 people in the audience. Amid gasps, spectators were ushered out of the outdoor amphitheater.

Man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie enters not-guilty plea

  Man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie enters not-guilty plea The man accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie has entered a not-guilty plea in a New York court on charges of attempted murder and assault. © (Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press) Salman Rushdie at a 2017 awards ceremony in New York. Rushdie remained hospitalized Saturday after suffering serious injuries in a stabbing attack, which was met with shock and outrage from much of the world, along with tributes and praise for the award-winning author who for more than 30 years has faced death threats for his novel "The Satanic Verses.

The assailant ran onto the platform “and started pounding on Mr. Rushdie. At first you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten,” Savenor said. He said the attack lasted about 20 seconds.

Another spectator, Kathleen James, said the attacker was dressed in black, with a black mask.

“We thought perhaps it was part of a stunt to show that there’s still a lot of controversy around this author. But it became evident in a few seconds” that it wasn’t, she said.

An officer stands outside a gate of the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) © Provided by Associated Press An officer stands outside a gate of the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Matar, like other visitors, had obtained a pass to enter the Chautauqua Institution’s 750-acre grounds, Michael Hill, the institution's president, said.

The suspect’s attorney, public defender Nathaniel Barone, said he was still gathering information and declined to comment. Matar’s home was blocked off by authorities.

The stabbing reverberated from the tranquil town of Chautauqua to the United Nations, which issued a statement expressing U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ horror and stressing that free expression and opinion should not be met with violence.

Padma Lakshmi Says She's 'Relieved' Ex-Husband Salman Rushdie Is 'Pulling Through' After Stabbing

  Padma Lakshmi Says She's 'Relieved' Ex-Husband Salman Rushdie Is 'Pulling Through' After Stabbing Padma Lakshmi's statement about ex-husband Salman Rushdie came about as the author's son Zafar told NBC News that his father "was taken off the ventilator" and "was able to say a few words"Padma Lakshmi is rooting for her ex-husband Salman Rushdie's recovery.

A person makes a call outside the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) © Provided by Associated Press A person makes a call outside the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s attack, which led an evening news bulletin on Iranian state television.

From the White House, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan described the attack as “reprehensible” and said the Biden administration wished Rushdie a quick recovery.

An officer with the Chautauqua Sheriff's Department speaks to a person at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) © Provided by Associated Press An officer with the Chautauqua Sheriff's Department speaks to a person at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

“This act of violence is appalling,” Sullivan said in a statement. “We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr. Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.”

Local police and FBI block the area around the home of Hadi Matar on Morningside Avenue, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Fairview, N.J. Matar rushed a stage and stabbed Salman Rushdie, whose novel © Provided by Associated Press Local police and FBI block the area around the home of Hadi Matar on Morningside Avenue, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Fairview, N.J. Matar rushed a stage and stabbed Salman Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes, and the literary world recoiled at what Ian McEwan, a novelist and Rushdie's friend, described as “an assault on freedom of thought and speech.”

Padma Lakshmi wishes ex-husband Salman Rushdie 'swift healing' after 'nightmare' attack

  Padma Lakshmi wishes ex-husband Salman Rushdie 'swift healing' after 'nightmare' attack Lakshmi says she "can finally exhale" after the author was taken off a ventilator over the weekend. In an emotional post, the 51-year-old shared that she was "worried and wordless" but "can finally exhale." "Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday's nightmare," she wrote on Sunday. "Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing." Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday’s nightmare. Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing.

People gather at an evening vigil for author Salman Rushdie after was attacked, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel © Provided by Associated Press People gather at an evening vigil for author Salman Rushdie after was attacked, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today. (AP Photo/Joshua Goodman)

“Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world,” McEwan said in a statement. "He is a fiery and generous spirit, a man of immense talent and courage and he will not be deterred.”

People gather at an evening vigil pray and observe a moment of silence after an attack on author Salman Rushdie, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel © Provided by Associated Press People gather at an evening vigil pray and observe a moment of silence after an attack on author Salman Rushdie, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today. (AP Photo/Joshua Goodman)

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the organization didn't know of any comparable act of violence against a literary writer in the U.S. Rushdie was once president of the group, which advocates for writers and free expression.

People scan publications at a news stand in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) © Provided by Associated Press People scan publications at a news stand in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

After the publication of “The Satanic Verses,” often-violent protests erupted across the Muslim world against Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family.

The front pages of the Aug. 13 edition of the Iranian newspapers, Vatan-e Emrooz, front, with title reading in Farsi: © Provided by Associated Press The front pages of the Aug. 13 edition of the Iranian newspapers, Vatan-e Emrooz, front, with title reading in Farsi: "Knife in the neck of Salman Rushdie," and Hamshahri, rear, with title: "Attack on writer of Satanic Verses," are pictured in Tehran Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

At least 45 people were killed in riots over the book, including 12 people in Rushdie’s hometown of Mumbai. In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the book’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times and survived.

Authors and friends rally and read for Salman Rushdie

  Authors and friends rally and read for Salman Rushdie Friends and fellow authors speak out on Salman Rushdie's behalf during a rally on the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library.Rushdie's condition has improved and, according to his literary agent, he has been removed from a ventilator.

Khomeini died the same year he issued the fatwa calling for Rushdie's death. Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, never issued a fatwa of his own withdrawing the edict, though Iran in recent years hasn’t focused on the writer.

The death threats and bounty led Rushdie to go into hiding under a British government protection program, which included a round-the-clock armed guard. Rushdie emerged after nine years of seclusion and cautiously resumed more public appearances, maintaining his outspoken criticism of religious extremism overall.

He said in a 2012 talk in New York that terrorism is really the art of fear.

“The only way you can defeat it is by deciding not to be afraid,” he said.

Anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered long after Khomeini’s decree. The Index on Censorship, an organization promoting free expression, said money was raised to boost the reward for his killing as recently as 2016.

An Associated Press journalist who went to the Tehran office of the 15 Khordad Foundation, which put up the millions for the bounty on Rushdie, found it closed Friday night on the Iranian weekend. No one answered calls to its listed telephone number.

In 2012, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie used while in hiding.

Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children,” but his name became known around the world after “The Satanic Verses.”

Widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest living writers, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor, a royal accolade for people who have made a major contribution to the arts, science or public life.

In a tweet, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson deplored that Rushdie was attacked “while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.”

The Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, has served for more than a century as a place for reflection and spiritual guidance. Visitors don’t pass through metal detectors or undergo bag checks. Most people leave the doors to their century-old cottages unlocked at night.

The center is known for its summertime lecture series, where Rushdie has spoken before.

At an evening vigil, a few hundred residents and visitors gathered for prayer, music and a long moment of silence.

“Hate can’t win,” one man shouted.

___

Associated Press journalists John Wawrow in Chautauqua; Jennifer Peltz, Hillel Italie and Edith Lederer in New York City; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York; Michael Hill in Albany, New York; Ted Shaffrey in Fairview, New Jersey; and Nasser Karimi and Mehdi Fattahi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

Authors and friends rally and read for Salman Rushdie .
Friends and fellow authors speak out on Salman Rushdie's behalf during a rally on the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library.Rushdie's condition has improved and, according to his literary agent, he has been removed from a ventilator.

See also