Public officials, literary figures shocked over attack on author Salman Rushdie

Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses book' led to a fatwa, a religious decree, by the then Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which forced the writer into hiding for several years.

Published: 13th August 2022 08:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2022 08:13 AM   |  A+A-

Salman Rushdie Attack

Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua. (Photo | AP)


WASHINGTON: Renowned author Salman Rushdie who faced death threats from Iran because of his novel "The Satanic Verses", was attacked in New York State on Friday morning during a lecture has left literary figures and public officials in shock.

Salman Rushdie known for his free expression was stabbed in the neck while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

"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," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet.

Rushdie, an Indian-born-British writer, has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature in 2007.

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."

"Shocked to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie in New York. A champion of free speech and artistic freedom. He's in our thoughts tonight," UK PM candidate, Rishi Sunak said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the UK, Nadine Dorries called the incident "horrifying". She also said that this is an awful attack on a literary giant and one of the great defenders of freedom of expression.

"Thoughts with @SalmanRushdie and his loved ones," Dorries added.

Taking to Twitter, US Senator Chuck Schumer said, "This attack is shocking and appalling. It is an attack on freedom of speech and thought, which are two bedrock values of our country and of the Chautauqua Institution. I hope Rushdie quickly and fully recovers and the perpetrator experiences full accountability and justice."

ALSO READ | 'Salman Rushdie had multiple stab wounds, was lying in pool of blood': Doctor who helped the author

Khaled Hosseini, an American novelist said that he will pray for his recovery. Calling him an essential voice, Hosseini said that he is horrified by this attack on Rushdie.

"Horrified to learn that Salman Rushdie has been attacked at a speaking event in upstate New York. Wish him a speedy recovery," Amitav Ghosh, an Indian writer, tweeted.

"I just learned that Salman Rushdie was attacked in New York. I am really shocked. I never thought it would happen. He has been living in the West, and he has been protected since 1989. If he is attacked, anyone who is critical of Islam can be attacked. I am worried," Taslima Nasreen, another writer tweeted.

President of the French, Emmanuel Macron tweeted, "For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side."

Earlier, New York State Police identified the suspect, who attacked Salman Rushdie, as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey while the motive behind the act is still unknown.

READ HERE | Salman Rushdie: Magical realist forced to live on the run

"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.

The police further said that several members of the institution and the audience quickly responded to the incident and took the suspect to the ground.

Staniszewski further stated, "We are in the process of obtaining search warrants. There was a bag and some electronic devices on the spot. We are at a very early stage of the investigation. Members of the FBI are helping us with the investigation."

He also said that the alleged attacker is currently in custody. The suspect has not been formally charged but the charges depend on Rushdie's condition. Staniszewski revealed that Rushdie is currently hospitalized in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The seventy-five-year-old author, who caught the limelight for his novel 'Midnight's Children' in 1981, had received a fatwa for his 1988 book.

The Satanic Verses book led to a fatwa, a religious decree, by the then Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The threat forced him into hiding for several years.

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