Writer Salman Rushdie in serious condition after attack in NYC

Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture Friday at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles south of Buffalo. (Joshua Goodman / Associated Press)

Writer Salman Rushdie, who for years was the target of death threats from Iran, was stabbed in the neck and body Friday at a conference in New York state.

Rushdie, whose book “The Satanic Verses” sent him undercover out of fear for his life, was preparing to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when Hadi Matar, 24, rushed the stage around 10:45 a.m., attacked him and an interviewer and then started to stab the 75-year-old author, police said.

Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital, where he underwent surgery, the state police said.

Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s agent, told the New York Times on Friday night that “the news is not good,” saying the author was on a ventilator and could not speak.

“Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Wylie said in the statement.

One witness described the attack.

“He crept up real fast behind him with a short-bladed black knife that he immediately then — the first attack was to his throat on the right side,” Carter Byham, 52, told the Los Angeles Times.

Byham was sitting in the third row and noticed a crouching man in black come from an alleyway to the right of the stage. The man came around behind Rushdie to attack, Byham said.

“Rushdie knocked him off with his arm, stood up, then [the man] went to [Rushdie’s] chest,” Byham said. “Then the moderator tackled the guy.”

Byham said the whole attack lasted about 10 seconds and that people rushed the stage to come to Rushdie’s aid. A doctor in the audience gave Rushdie medical treatment until EMS arrived and had the writer airlifted to a hospital, a state police spokesman said.

“I saw Rushdie sitting up holding his neck, pool of blood around him,” Byham said, near tears.

Matar was taken into custody by a state police officer. He is from Fairview, N.J., state police said.

Maj. Eugene Staniszewski, a state police commander, said at a Friday news briefing that troopers were working on the investigation with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, district attorney’s office, and the FBI.

The Yucatan Times
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