British author Salman Rushdie was attacked during an event in New York state this Friday. The Booker Prize-winning author was preparing to speak at the Chautauqua Institute when witnesses say they saw a man who assaulted an attendee run onto the stage and, according to a police report, Rushdie suffered neck and abdominal injuries. With a knife.
New York police have identified the suspect as Haddy Mather, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, and believe he acted alone. Officials said there was no threat prior to the incident, but said they did not know the motive for the attack.
After the attack, Salman Rushdie, 75, was airlifted to a local hospital. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but according to New York Governor Cathy Hochul, the writer is alive and “getting the care he needs”. Andrew Wylie, a spokesman for the author, said by email that “Rushty is in surgery,” but did not provide further details.
Elements of the audience arrived on stage shortly after the incident, which took place around 11am local time (4pm in mainland Portugal). According to an Associated Press reporter, the writer lay on the ground, assisted by a rescuer, and then left the scene. Interviewee Henry Rees also suffered a minor head injury. Rees is the co-founder of a non-profit organization that shelters exiled writers under threat of persecution.
The assailant was restrained and arrested by police officers, but no further information has been released. The British newspaper “The Guardian” quoted eyewitnesses who, with black masks covering their faces, ran onto the stage and began attacking Rushdie as he sat. Retired journalist Paula Wohl said to the “Buffalo News.”: “We saw the man run a few steps across the stage and there was horror – the whole audience reacted and 15 other audience members rushed the stage to try to see him.”
Iran ordered Rushdie’s death in 1989
The author of “The Satanic Verses,” published in 1988, was sentenced to death by Iran’s president, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a year after its publication on charges of defaming the faithful. The decision led Salman Rushdie to live in limbo, under police protection, and its origin was a ‘fatwa’ issued by the Iranian leader with a promise of a three million dollar reward for the writer’s murder. Severed diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Iran. Iran’s government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s mandate, but has anti-Rushti sentiment.
In 2012, the Iranian Religious Foundation raised the reward for Rushti’s murder to $3.3 million. Rushdie downplayed the threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” that people were interested in the prize money. In that year, the writer published a memoir called “Joseph Anton”. – A Memoir”, in ‘Fatwa’.
The author of nearly two dozen titles, Rushdie won the Booker Prize in 1981 for his book “Midnight’s Children” and the Booker of Bookers in 1993 and Best Booker in 2008. “O Último Suspiro do Mouro” won him the Withbread Prize in 1995 and the European Union Prize for Literature in 1996.