Salman Rushdie Attacked Onstage At Event In Upstate New York

Salman Rushdie, whose writing led to death threats in the 1980s, has suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck and has been airlifted to hospital after he was attacked on stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York, police have said.

The Indian-British author, 75, was attacked on Friday onstage at the Chautauqua Institution. Rushdie’s condition is not known.

Witnesses reported Rushdie falling to the floor when the man attacked him, and was then surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, seemingly to send more blood to his upper body, as the attacker was restrained.

Rabbi Charles Savenor was among the hundreds of people in the audience. Amid gasps, spectators were ushered outside.

“This guy ran on to 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.

Author Salman Rushdie in 2018.

The New York state police department has issued a statement confirming a male suspect ran onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer.

The statement said: “State police are investigating an attack on author Salman Rushdie prior to a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY.

“On August 12, 2022, at about 11am, a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer.

“Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital.

“His condition is not yet known.

“The interviewer suffered a minor head injury. A state trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody.

“The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.”

Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and issued a fatwa, calling for Rushdie’s execution.

A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.

Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward.

That year, Rushdie published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had 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.

The Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, is known for its summertime lecture series. Rushdie has spoken there before.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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