Salman Rushdie: Placed on ventilator and unable to speak, agent says

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Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

After being stabbed, Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator and cannot speak. His arm and liver are injured, and he may lose an eye.

Salman Rushdie’s agent has said “the news is not good” after the author was stabbed at an event in New York state.

He was attacked on stage, and is now on a ventilator and unable to speak, Andrew Wylie said in a statement, adding that the author will lose one eye.

Mr Rushdie has suffered years of Islamist death threats after writing The Satanic Verses, published in 1988.

Police detained a suspect named as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey.

New York State Police the suspect ran onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie and an interviewer at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state.

“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.

No motive or charges have yet been confirmed by police, who are in the process of obtaining search warrants to examine a backpack and electronic devices found at the centre.

Salman Rushdie — a celebrated author and winner of the world’s top literary prizes whose writings generated death threats — was attacked and stabbed at least twice on stage Friday before giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, State Police said.

The suspect was identified as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey, State Police Troop Commander Major Eugene J. Staniszewski said in a Friday evening news conference. Police said they are working with the FBI and local authorities to determine what could have motivated the attack.

Authorities are also working to obtain search warrants for several items found at the scene, including a backpack and electronic devices, Staniszewski said. Authorities believe the suspect was alone but are investigating “to make sure that was the case,” Staniszewski added.

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 the attacker into custody, police said.

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie CH FRSL (born 19 June 1947) is an Indian-born British-American novelist. His work often combines magical realism with historical fiction and primarily deals with connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, set on the Indian subcontinent.

Rushdie’s second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be “the best novel of all winners” on two occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of controversy, provoking protests from Muslims. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwa calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in 1989. The British government put Rushdie under police protection.

In 1983, Rushdie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in 1999. In 2007, he was knighted for his services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States. He was named Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University in 2015 Earlier, he taught at Emory University. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses.

‘His essential voice cannot and will not be silenced’

On its website, the Chautauqua Institution described Friday’s event as “a discussion of the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.”

In a statement, the nonprofit education centre and summer resort said it is “coordinating with law enforcement and emergency officials on a public response following today’s attack of Salman Rushdie on the Chautauqua Amphitheater stage.”

Writers such as Stephen King and J.K. Rowling expressed well-wishes for Rushdie via Twitter.

Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, a prominent US free speech group for authors, which said it is “reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack.”

“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

“We hope and believe fervently that his essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.”

Penguin Random House, Rushdie’s publisher, tweeted a statement from CEO Markus Dohle: “We are deeply shocked and appalled to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie while he was speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. We condemn this violent public assault, and our thoughts are with Salman and his family at this distressing time.”

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