ERIE: Salman Rushdie remained hospitalised in serious condition on Saturday after being stabbed at a literary event in New York state.

The British author, who spent years under police protection after Iranian leaders ordered his killing, underwent emergency surgery and was placed on a ventilator after Friday’s assault in which a 24-year-old man, Hadi Matar, rushed the stage where Rushdie was about to deliver a lecture and stabbed him in the neck and abdomen.

According to his agent Andrew Wylie, the nerves in one of Rushdie’s arms were severed and his liver damaged in the attack, and he “will likely lose one eye.” Rushdie, 75, had been living under an effective death sentence since 1989 when Iran’s then supreme leader issued a religious decree against him.

Security was not particularly tight at Friday’s event at the Chautauqua Institution. Witnesses said Rushdie was seated on an auditorium stage and preparing to speak when Matar jumped up from the audience and managed to stab him several times before being wrestled to the ground by staff and other spectators. Matar was finally cuffed and taken into police custody.

The fatwa followed publication of the novel “The Satanic Verses” which sparked fury among some Muslims who believed it was blasphemous.

A doctor in the audience provided emergency first aid on the spot before Rushdie was airlifted by helicopter to the hospital in nearby Erie.

State police said Matar, from Fairfax, New Jersey, had been formally charged with attempted murder, but otherwise provided no information on his background or what might have motivated him.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022

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