Anti-Islam write Salman Rushdie will lose an eye after stabbing attack
Salman Rushdie, the infamous author of the blasphemous anti-Islam book – The Satanic Verses – has been put on a ventilator in critical condition and will likely lose an eye following a stabbing attack during a speech in the US state of New York.
"Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged," his agent, Andrew Wylie said as quoted Saturday by the New York Times, insisting, "The news is not good."
He further added that Rushdie was connected to a ventilator on Friday evening and could not speak after suffering serious injuries in the attack just before a lecture he was scheduled to give at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state.
US officials identified the assailant as a 24-year-old Hadi Matar from the nearby city of Fairview, New Jersey, noting that police are working with the FBI and local authorities to determine Matar’s motive.
Matar was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, the mayor of the village, Ali Tehfe, told The Associated Press.
The suspect’s birth was a decade after the publishing of Rushdie's 1988 blasphemous novel that insulted Islam’s Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and drew widespread outrage and protests throughout the Muslim world as well as a religious edict for Rushdie’s execution by the late founder of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, who remains widely revered in Iran and across the globe.
The suspect was arraigned on Friday night and formally charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree, Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said in a Saturday statement.
The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took him into custody.
Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, 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, according to local press reports.
Rushdie was airlifted from a field adjacent to the venue and was undergoing surgery at a hospital in northwestern Pennsylvania, Erie Police Department Deputy Chief William Marucci said as cited in local press reports.
Matar has entered a not-guilty plea in a court on charges of attempted murder and assault, according to his attorney, state-designated public defender Nathaniel Barone, who declined to further comment on the case.
Rushdie went into hiding in 1989 under a British government protection program, which included a round-the-clock armed guard. He re-emerged after nine years of seclusion and cautiously resumed more public appearances in a publicity campaign against what he labeled as “religious extremism overall.”
Despite his anti-Islam campaigns, Rushdie was knighted by the British Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the so-called Order of the Companions of Honor, a royal accolade purportedly for people who have made a major contribution to the arts, science or public life.
US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, also released a statement on Saturday, saying that he was “shocked and saddened” by the attack on the anti-Islam writer.
“Jill and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Salman Rushdie yesterday in New York,” Biden wrote, claiming: “We, together with all Americans and people around the world, are praying for his health and recovery.”
While the US and other Western nations have laws that limit freedom of speech, experts say those laws are hypocritical, since they ban Holocaust denial, but allow blasphemy against Islam.