Salman Rushdie, the controversial author whose writings have often landed him into trouble, was attacked and stabbed in the neck on Friday by a man who stormed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.
Following the assault, the 75-year-old booker prize winner fell through a barrier to the stage with blood on his hands and was treated onstage while the crowd tackled the accused.
Here are the top updates:
- Rushdie suffered a wound to the neck after being stabbed “10-15 times” and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. New York Governor Kathy Hochul told a press conference about an hour later that Rushdie is “alive”.
- Aside from Rushdie, the moderator, Henry Reese at the event was also attacked and suffered a minor head injury. Reese is the co-founder of a non-profit that provides sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of persecution.
- Following the assault, a bloodied Rushdie was surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest.
- There were many witnesses to the attack who came forward to give their statements. Rabbi Charles Savenor told the news agency Associated Press that, the assailant ran onto the platform and started pounding on Rushdie. He added that the attack lasted about 20 seconds.
- While, another spectator, Kathleen Jones, said the attacker was dressed in black, with a black mask. “We thought perhaps it was part of a stunt to show that there’s still a lot of controversy around this author. But it became evident in a few seconds” that it wasn’t, she told the AP.
- The attack on Rushdie was attributed by many to him being a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes. Rushdie “has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered,” Suzanne Nossel told the Associated Press.
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled” by the incident. “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend,” tweeted Johnson. “Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”
- PEN America, a prominent US free speech group for authors of which Rushdie was the president from 2004 to 2006, said it was “reeling from shock and horror” at the news of the attack.
- Speaking in support of the author, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement that it was a place ideally suited for him to be able to speak and that’s what he was attempting to do just in the last hour before he was attacked. She said the incident hits right here, It hits all of us. But we are undeterred then. We are undeterred and our commitment to make sure that we call it out, we condemn what happened, and we condemn all violence. And we want people to feel that freedom to speak and to write truths, she said vowing to protect this right.
- Notably, Rushdie’s appearance at the Chautauqua Institution event was the first in a summertime lecture series hosted by the non-profit organization. An artist at the venue said that rehearsals had been going as normal this morning until the attack inside its amphitheater. The venue has been on lockdown since she added.
- As per reports, the Institution, about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, has served for more than a century as a place for reflection and spiritual guidance. Visitors don’t pass through metal detectors or undergo bag checks. Most people leave the doors to their century-old cottages unlocked at night.
- Indian-born novelist Rushdie rose to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK, But his fourth book, in 1988 – The Satanic Verses – forced him into hiding for nine years.