Police in the US state of New York reported that Salman Rushdie, a British Indian writer who won the Booker Prize, was stabbed in the neck. The attack on the 75-year-old author happened just before a lecture he was to give at the Chautauqua Institution.
Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” was banned in Iran in 1988 because many Muslims consider it blasphemous. For this reason, he was repeatedly threatened with death. Rushdie is officially charged with a fatwa (a kind of a curse in Islam) that orders any faithful Muslim to kill the person affected by such a decision. As a result, the writer had to live in hiding under the constant protection of the police.
Lecture on artistic freedom
Rushdie, a British Indian-born writer, was scheduled to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State on Friday. An AP reporter who was on site reported shortly after the attack that the writer had been stabbed or hit and fell to the floor. The attacker was arrested.
Later on Friday, New York State police reported that Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck. A 75-year-old man was transported by helicopter to the hospital. His condition is not known yet. “He has received the care he needs,” said New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, as quoted by the Reuters Agency.
A spokesman for writer Andrew Wylie said Rushdie was undergoing surgery in a statement quoted by Reuters. He did not provide any more details.
The police informed that the moderator of the meeting was also injured.
Prime Minister of Great Britain Boris Johnson he tweeted that he was “shocked that Salman Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right (freedom of expression) that we should never stop defending.” Wishes for recovery were issued, among others, by British Minister of Culture Nadine Dorries and leader of the democratic majority in the US Senate Chuck Schumer.
The attack was condemned by the Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB), as well as the writers association PEN International, writers Stephen King and JK Rowling, and cookbook author Nigella Lawson, a longtime friend of Rushdie’s privately.
Fatwa has not been canceled
In 1998, the then government of Iran announced that it was ceasing to support the fatwa, which in recent years allowed the writer to return to a more normal life. Fatwa, however, has never been canceled. Many translators of his books fell victim to attacks, and one of them, the Japanese Hitoshi Igarashi, was killed in 1991 from dagger wounds.
In 2012, Rushdie published the autobiographical novel “Joseph Anton”, in which he described the compulsion to hide due to the death threat hanging over him.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA