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Salman Rushdie is attacked onstage in Western New York.

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CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Salman Rushdie spent years in hiding after the management of Iran known as for his loss of life following the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses.” But in current years, declaring “Oh, I have to live my life,” he re-entered society, commonly showing in public round New York City with out evident safety.

On Friday morning, any sense that threats to his life have been a factor of the previous was dispelled when an attacker rushed the stage of Chautauqua Institution right here in Western New York, the place Mr. Rushdie was scheduled to offer a chat in regards to the United States as a secure haven for exiled writers. The assailant stabbed Mr. Rushdie, 75, in the stomach and the neck, the police and witnesses mentioned, straining to proceed the assault whilst a number of folks held him again.

Mr. Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a close-by hospital in Erie, Pa., the place he was in surgical procedure for a number of hours on Friday afternoon. Mr. Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, mentioned Friday night that Mr. Rushdie was on a ventilator and couldn’t converse.

“The news is not good,” Mr. Wylie mentioned in an e mail. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Major Eugene J. Staniszewski of the New York State Police recognized the suspect in the assault as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man who was arrested on the scene, however mentioned at a information convention late Friday afternoon that there was no indication but of a motive.

He mentioned that the police have been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the native sheriff’s workplace and that investigators have been in the method of acquiring search warrants for a backpack and digital units that have been discovered on the establishment.

The assault shocked onlookers, who had gathered in the 4,000-seat amphitheater on the Chautauqua Institution, a summertime vacation spot for literary and humanities programming.

“It took like five men to pull him away and he was still stabbing,” mentioned Linda Abrams, who attended the lecture in the entrance row. “He was just furious, furious. Like intensely strong and just fast.”

Others described blood working down Mr. Rushdie’s cheek and pooling on the ground. A doctor in attendance, Rita Landman, mentioned that Mr. Rushdie appeared to have a number of stab wounds, together with one on the appropriate facet of his neck, however that folks surrounding him have been saying, “he has a pulse, he has a pulse.”

Ralph Henry Reese, 73, who was onstage with Mr. Rushdie to reasonable the dialogue, suffered an damage to his face throughout the assault and was launched from the hospital on Friday afternoon, the police mentioned.

The brazen assault on Mr. Rushdie shook the literary world. Suzanne Nossel, the chief govt officer of PEN America, which promotes free expression, mentioned in a press release that “we can think of no comparable incident of a public attack on a literary writer on American soil.”

After he was launched from the hospital, Mr. Reese mentioned in a press release that Mr. Rushdie was “one of the great authors of our time and one of the great defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of creative expression.”

“We revere him and our paramount concern is for his life,” mentioned Mr. Reese. “The fact that this attack could occur in the United States is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments and from many individuals and organizations.”

Mr. Rushdie had successfully been residing below a loss of life sentence since 1989, about six months after the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses,” which fictionalized components of the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad with depictions that many Muslims discovered offensive and a few thought of blasphemous.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, issued a spiritual edict generally known as a fatwa on Feb. 14, 1989, ordering Muslims to kill Mr. Rushdie. A worth was placed on his head of a number of million {dollars}. Mr. Rushdie, who lived in London on the time, went into hiding, and moved right into a fortified secure home below the safety of the British police for many of the subsequent 10 years.

On Friday morning at round 10:47 a.m., Mr. Rushdie had simply sat down onstage with the dialogue’s moderator, Mr. Reese, the co-founder of a Pittsburgh nonprofit, City of Asylum, a residency program for exiled writers, when a person rushed the stage and attacked Mr. Rushdie, the police and a number of other witnesses mentioned. Audience members gasped and leaped to their toes.

Mary Newsom, who attended the lecture, mentioned that some folks thought at first that it is likely to be a stunt. “Then it became apparent that it was clearly not a stunt,” she mentioned.

Several witnesses mentioned the attacker was capable of attain Mr. Rushdie simply, working onstage and approaching him from behind. Chuck Koch, an legal professional from Ohio who owns a home in Chautauqua, was seated in the second row and ran onstage to assist subdue the attacker. Mr. Koch mentioned that a number of folks labored to separate the assailant from Mr. Rushdie, and have been ready to take action earlier than a uniformed officer arrived and positioned the attacker in handcuffs.

As the attacker was being restrained, one other attendee, Bruce Johnson, noticed a knife fall to the ground, he mentioned.

Michael Hill, Chautauqua’s president, mentioned on the information convention on Friday afternoon that Mr. Matar had a cross to entry the establishment’s grounds like all typical patron.

The assault was decried by literary figures and public officers. Markus Dohle, the chief govt of Penguin Random House, Mr. Rushdie’s writer, mentioned in a press release, “We are deeply shocked and appalled to hear of the attack.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain mentioned in a Twitter post that he was “appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York mentioned on Twitter: “Today’s attack on Salman Rushdie was also an attack on some of our most sacred values — the free expression of thought.”

Even earlier than the fatwa, “The Satanic Verses” was banned in quite a lot of international locations, together with Bangladesh, Sudan, Sri Lanka and India, the place Mr. Rushdie was born. He was barred from the country for greater than a decade.

After the fatwa, a halfhearted apology from Mr. Rushdie, which he later regretted, was rejected by Iran.

Many died in protests towards its publication, together with 12 folks in a riot in Mumbai in February 1989 and 6 extra in one other riot in Islamabad. Books have been burned, and there have been assaults on bookstores. People related to the guide have been additionally focused.

In July 1991, Hitoshi Igarashi, the novel’s Japanese translator, was stabbed to loss of life and its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was badly wounded. In October 1993, William Nygaard, the novel’s Norwegian writer, was shot thrice exterior his house in Oslo and critically injured.

The fatwa was maintained by Iran’s authorities after the loss of life of Ayatollah Khomeini for practically a decade, till 1998, when Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who was thought of comparatively liberal, mentioned that Iran now not supported the killing. But the fatwa stays in place, reportedly with a bounty connected from an Iranian non secular basis of some $3.3 million as of 2012.

In an interview with The Sunday Times in 1995, shortly earlier than Mr. Rushdie’s first scheduled public look because the fatwa — a panel in London the place he mentioned his new novel, “The Moor’s Last Sigh” — the writer addressed his return to writing after the conflagration over “The Satanic Verses.”

“Writing this was a very important step for me,” he mentioned in that interview. “I had spent two and a half years talking to politicians, which is not my favorite occupation. Then I realized it was foolish to let this disagreeable business get in the way of what I love doing best. I wanted to prove to myself that I could absorb what has happened to me and transcend it. And now, at least, I feel that I have.”

Since then, Mr. Rushdie has revealed eight novels and a 2012 memoir, “Joseph Anton,” in regards to the fatwa. The title got here from the pseudonym he used whereas in hiding, taken from the primary names of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

In current years, Mr. Rushdie has loved a extra public life in New York City. In 2019, he spoke at a non-public membership in Manhattan to advertise his novel, “Quichotte.” Security on the occasion was relaxed, and Mr. Rushdie mingled with company freely and had dinner with members of the membership afterward.

Iran has not but formally commented on the assault towards the writer.

But supporters of the federal government took to social media to reward the stabbing towards Mr. Rushdie because the ayatollah’s fatwa lastly materializing. Some wished for him to die. Some warned that comparable destiny awaits different enemies of the Islamic Republic.

A quote by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei relationship again a number of years was broadly shared, in which he says the fatwa towards Mr. Rushdie was “fired like a bullet that won’t rest until it hits its target.”

Ayad Akhtar, a author and the president of PEN America, who is associates with Mr. Rushdie and considers “The Satanic Verses” an “essential moment” in fashionable literary historical past, mentioned he by no means noticed Mr. Rushdie deliver alongside any form of safety element, whether or not at a theater, out to dinner or at a public occasion. Mr. Rushdie appeared completely snug out in the world, he mentioned.

Jay Root reported from Chautauqua, N.Y., David Gelles from Putnam Valley, N.Y., Elizabeth A. Harris and Julia Jacobs from New York City. Additional reporting was contributed by Steven Erlanger, Farnaz Fassihi, Jonah E. Bromwich and Edmund Lee.





Source: www.nytimes.com

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