Salman Rushdie, the author whose writings made him the target of death threats from Iran, was stabbed on stage during a literary event in western New York state.
Rushdie was scheduled to speak Friday morning at the Chautauqua Institution, about a 90-minute drive southwest of the city of Buffalo.
“Around 11 a.m., a suspicious man came on stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer,” New York State Police said in a statement.
Police said Rushdie, 75, suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck and was airlifted to an area hospital.
“His condition is still unknown,” they said, adding that Rushdie’s interviewer suffered a minor head injury.
The suspect was taken into custody by a state trooper who was assigned to the event, police said. Additional information about the attacker could not be obtained.
The Chautauqua Institution said Rushdie was returning for a discussion about the United States “as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for creative freedom of expression.” He was joined on stage by Henry Reese, co-founder of a Pittsburgh group that welcomes writers living in exile.
Started in 1874 as a place to teach Methodist Sunday school teachers, the institution became the center of a wider educational movement and is now known for its summer program, which invites famous authors , musicians and religious leaders to speak and perform. It is also known for bringing together different religious denominations. A Chautauqua representative could not immediately be reached Friday.
Salman Rushdie is loaded into a medical evacuation helicopter near Chautauqua Institution after the attack © Horatio Gates/AFP/Getty Images
“It happened in a place that is very familiar to me,” said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who described the Chautauqua Institution as a quiet, rural community where prominent speakers, politicians and intellectuals meet. they meet to talk
“This is an ideally suited place for him to speak and that’s what he was trying to do in the last hour before he was attacked,” Hochul said.
The governor, who is from western New York, said he will provide more information about the identity of the perpetrator and a case will be filed in that part of the state.
Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, first published in 1988, has been the subject of ongoing controversy due to its depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The book was banned in Iran and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie in 1989.
After the death threat, Rushdie went into hiding. He lived with armed policemen and adopted the alias Joseph Anton.
Twitter temporarily banned Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2019 for tweeting that Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie was “solid and irrevocable”.