Salman Rushdie ‘on ventilator’ after stabbing – agent

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Award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak on Friday evening after being stabbed at a public event in New York state earlier in the day, his agent Andrew Wylie has said.

The 75-year-old Indian-born British-American author has long been the recipient of death threats from Islamists for his work.

“The news is not good,” Wylie said in an email to the media. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.” 

The author was stabbed in the neck and torso onstage while giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in the US state of New York. Rushdie was airlifted to a hospital by helicopter after the attack.

New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who was detained on the spot.

Staniszewski added that police are working with the FBI and the local sheriff’s office to obtain search warrants for the suspect’s backpack and electronic devices. “We don’t have any indication of a motive at this time,” he told reporters, adding that police believe that the suspect acted alone.

In 1989, Iran’s former religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict calling for the death of Rushdie for writing ‘The Satanic Verses’, a novel many Muslims regarded as offensive to their faith.

The New York Post quoted law enforcement sources on Friday as saying that Matar has made social media posts in support of Iran and its elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and also of “Shia extremism more broadly.” 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul condemned the attempt on Rushdie’s life as “an attack on some of our most sacred values – the free expression of thought.”

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