- The New York State Police has identified the attacker of author Salman Rushdie as Hadi Matar.
- The motive behind the act is still unknown, but it is being linked to the book 'The Satanic Verses'.
- The suspect ran up onto the stage prior to a speaking event and attacked Rushdie.
Salman Rushdie stabbed: The New York State Police has identified the attacker of author Salman Rushdie as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairview, New Jersey while the motive behind the act is still unknown. Also, the author is on a ventilator following hours of surgery, and is likely to lose one eye due to the stabbing attack, reported news agency Reuters. He was stabbed in the neck and torso before he was about to give a lecture in western New York.
"The suspect has been identified as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey. Earlier today, approx. at 10:47 am, the speaker Rushdie,75 and Henry Reese,73 had just arrived at the stage of the institution and shortly thereafter the suspect jumped out of the stage and attacked at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen," State Police Troop Commander Major Eugene J. Staniszewski said in a news conference.
Police said in a statement that a male suspect ran up onto the stage prior to a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua and attacked Rushdie.
Interviewer with Salman Rushdie also attacked
According to Police, the interviewer present with Rushdie at the lecture event was also attacked and he suffered a minor head injury. The author, however, suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. A suspect has been taken into custody. "State Police are investigating the attack on author Salman Rushdie prior to a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY," the statement said.
A doctor in the audience "immediately began first aid for Rushdie" after the stabbing, Major Staniszewski said. The authorities didn't reveal much information about the suspect. Earlier, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the author is alive and has been transported to a local hospital.
Controversy surrounding Rushdie's book 'The Satanic Verses'
As per reports, the attack is supposedly linked to his 1988 book The Satanic Verses, for which he had received a fatwa, a religious decree, by the then Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The threat forced him into hiding for several years.
Since the 1980s, Rushdie’s writing has led to death threats from Iran, which has offered a USD 3 million (roughly Rs 24 crore) reward for anyone who kills him. The Satanic Verses has been labelled 'blasphemous', which means it is believed to be addressing God with 'lack of respect'. It was his fourth book and forced him into hiding for nine years.
Literary figures, public officials shocked over attack
Several literary figures and public officials have expressed shock over the gruesome stabbing incident. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, "Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay."
Home Secretary of UK Priti Patel said, "Shocked and appalled to hear of the unprovoked and senseless attack on Sir Salman Rushdie. Freedom of expression is a value we hold dear and attempts to undermine it must not be tolerated. My thoughts are with Sir Salman and his family."
Reacting to the incident, veteran Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar condemned the barbaric attack. "I condemn the barbaric attack on Salman Rushdie by some fanatic. I hope that NY police and the court will take the strongest action possible against the attacker," Javed Akhtar tweeted.
"State Police are investigating an attack on author Salman Rushdie prior to a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY," the statement said. American author Stephen King said, "I hope Salman Rushdie is okay."