Salman Rushdie has been stabbed in the neck and abdomen following an attack by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.
The 75-year-old was flown to a hospital for emergency surgery, with Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie confirming his client had been placed on a ventilator with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and likely to lose an eye.
The attacker, identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar, was arrested at the scene and is now awaiting arraignment. The motive for the attack was unclear, State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said.
Event moderator Henry Reese was also injured in the attack, suffering a facial injury that required hospital treatment. The 73-year-old was released from hospital shortly after. Reese, who co-founded an organization to help writers fleeing persecution, was scheduled for a discussion with Rushdie over the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.
Rushdie achieved infamy in the late 1980s when he published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The publication was met with fierce criticism from the Islamic world, and Rushdie has been the subject of frequent death threats ever since.
Given the history of threats against the author, who has a $3 million bounty on his head for anyone that kills him, questions will likely be asked over the security arrangements for the event. Reportedly only a single state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s lecture, although the state trooper was able to apprehend the suspect singlehandedly.