Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, has been stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in southwestern New York state.
Police confirmed Rushdie was stabbed “at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen” on Friday after an assailant rushed to the stage and lunged at the 75-year-old writer just as he was being introduced to the audience.
After being airlifted to hospital where he spent hours in surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak on Friday evening.
“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email to the Reuters news agency. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey.
Major Eugene Staniszewski of New York state police told reporters on Friday afternoon that officials do not have “any indication of a motive” at this “very early” stage of the investigation. They said they believed that Matar was acting alone.
Rushdie won the Booker Prize for his 1981 novel Midnight’s Children, but became widely known after the publication of The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous [File: Rogelio V Solis/AP Photo]
Stacey Schlosser, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press news agency that Rushdie was stabbed six to eight times before the attacker was restrained.
“Nobody knew what to do. Nobody knew how to react. I mean, there were tons of people that rushed the stage,” Schlosser said.