AUTHOR Salman Rushdie suffered a stab wound to the neck while on stage before a lecture on Friday, years after the British writer was the target of international death threats.
The attack occurred while Rushdie was being introduced at a summer literature festival at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater in western New York.
New York State Police said a man stormed the stage and began attacking Rushdie – who was scheduled to speak alongside author Henry Reese.
Witnesses told AP News that Rushdie, 75, fell through a barrier to the floor and was seen with blood on his hands.
Photos from the event showed a crowd rushing to aid the injured novelist. The audience also reportedly tackled the attacker.
NYSP said Rushdie suffered a stab wound to the neck. Reese sustained a minor head injury.
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Author ‘stabbed in neck’ at Chautauqua Institution 2022
A series of pictures posted on Twitter by a witness showed medical personnel wheeling the British writer on a stretcher.
A second photo shared showed a man, believed to be Rushdie's assailant, in police custody.
The alleged attacker was wearing a camo pattern t-shirt and was handcuffed behind his back.
Despite no health update regarding the author's condition, a witness told The Daily Beast that her husband saw Rushdie “able to walk with assistance” after the ambush.
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Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were then evacuated.
A second witness told The Beast that Rushdie “had just come out and sat down” on stage when he was attacked by an individual who Pautler described as “heavy set and wearing a black headpiece.”
The bystander said he believed the assailant was "punching" Rushdie but then realized he "was stabbing him".
“It didn’t take long for me to realize that he wasn’t punching Rushdie because you don’t punch with the side of your hand. It’s so surreal. The more you think about it, the scarier it seems," the witness said.
A trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody.
A motive for the attack has not been established.
The Chautauqua Institution event was billed as a discussion of “the United States as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression”.
The venue draws some of the world’s most prominent authors, politicians and scientists to speak to thousands of guests.
IRAN CALLS FOR RUSHDIE'S KILLING
Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it offensive to Islam.
The Satanic Verses use magical realism and was partly inspired by the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
He spent about 10 years under police protection in the United Kingdom, living in hiding after Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, calling for Rushdie’s execution.
A bounty of over $3million has been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.
Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward.
However, over the years, there have been several failed assassination attempts on Rushdie, including attacks on several people connected to its publication.
In 1991, Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was fatally stabbed and an Italian translator was also nearly killed in another attack.
In 2012, Rushdie published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about the fatwa.
Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes.
He is a former president of PEN America, which said it was “reeling from shock and horror” at the attack.
“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” CEO Suzanne Nossel told AP News.
“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered."
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