Salman Rushdie on the floor after the attack in New York just as he was to deliver a lecture.
Author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck at an event in New York, US, on Friday. Details were scarce about his condition and the attacker, who has been detained. The 75-year-old author's writings have in the past led to threats.
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The New York State Police confirmed the stabbing and said he was taken to an area hospital by helicopter. Governor Kathy Hochul said he's alive and "getting the care he needs". The attacker is in custody and his identity will be released later, she said.
Social media posts showed people rushing to Mr Rushdie's aid after a man with "black clothes and a black mask" jumped onto the stage and attacked him at Chautauqua Institution, about 100 km from the city. The moderator of the talk suffered minor head injuries in the attack. Mr Rushdie fell to the floor immediately after the attack, and the attacker was restrained by the people there.
Moderator Henry Reese and Mr Rushdie were to discuss "the US as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression". The attack happened around 11 am local time (8.30 pm IST) as Mr Rushdie was being introduced. There were around 2,500 people in the audience, who were evacuated later.
"This guy ran on to platform and started pounding on Mr Rushdie," said Rabbi Charles Savenor, who was in the audience. "At first you're like, ‘What's going on?' And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten." The attack lasted about 20 seconds, he told AP.
A British citizen of Indian origin — living in the US for the past 20 years — Mr Rushdie, 75, has faced threats for decades over his 1988 book, The Satanic Verses, which is allegedly blasphemous towards Islam. A reward was put on his head by the Iranian top leader, though by 1998 the Iranian government said it won't enforce that 'fatwa' or edict. It wasn't clear if the attack is linked to that. AP said it hasn't received a reply for comment from Iran's mission to the UN.
Britain's PM Boris Johnson tweeted, "Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay." Delhi-based British writer William Dalrymple was among the first to react, hoping that Mr Rushdie wasn't hurt.
After the controversy over The Satanic Verses, Mr Rushdie remained out of the public eye, mostly living under government protection in the UK. But he produced several novels throughout the 1990s, and continues to criticise religious fundamentalism.
His first novel came out in 1975, but one of his seminal works is about modern India, Midnight's Children (1981), for which he won the Booker Prize. In 2007, he was knighted — given the ceremonial title of 'Sir' — by Queen Elizabeth II for services to literature. He has produced over a dozen works, including non-fiction.
In 2012, after an Iranian religious outfit "renewed" the bounty on him, he dismissed that threat, saying there was "no evidence" of people being interested in the reward, said the AP report. He even published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about life after the fatwa. The title came from a pseudonym he had used while in hiding.
The Chautauqua Institution, where the attack took place, is located in a rural part of New York. It is known for its summertime lecture series. Mr Rushdie has spoken there before.