Salman Rushdie stabbed in the neck, taken to hospital
Author Salman Rushdie is cared for after he was assaulted during a lecture, Friday, August 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY.
Joshua Goodman | AP
Author Salman Rushdie was attacked while on stage for a panel in Chautauqua, western New York on Friday.
State soldiers confirmed at a press conference Friday afternoon that Rushdie had been stabbed at least once in the neck and at least once in the stomach. Rushdie is still undergoing surgery, according to a statement from state police.
Staff and spectators rushed onto the stage and pinned the attacker to the ground after the attack, state soldiers said. A state trooper who was present detained the suspect with the assistance of the local sheriff.
Rushdie was treated by a doctor in the auditorium before emergency medical services arrived and took him to a local trauma center.
The state police department identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, NJ. The New York State Police are working with the FBI and local police to investigate.
Law enforcement agencies’ preliminary review of Matar’s social media accounts shows he sympathizes with Shia extremism and the cause of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a law enforcement officer with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News. Law enforcement officers are said to have found images of Solemani and an Iraqi extremist sympathetic to the Iranian regime in a messaging app on Matar’s mobile phone, according to NBC News.
There is no definite link to the IRGC but initial assessment shows that he has sympathy for the Iranian government group, the official said.
The New York State Police released a statement shortly after the incident:
“On August 12, 2022, at approximately 11 a.m., a male suspect ran onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer,” the statement read. “Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck and was airlifted to an area hospital. His condition is unknown. Interviewer suffered minor head injury. A State trooper was assigned to participate. event immediately arrested the suspect.”
A spokesperson for the Chautauqua Institute, which hosts the council, told CNBC that the organization is coordinating with emergency officials to respond publicly to the attack.
The Wylie agency, which represents Rushdie, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” forced him into hiding after it was banned in Iran and a $3 million bounty was placed on his head. According to the Associated Press, the Iranian government has shied away from the bounty, but the attack was continued by a semi-official religious organization that raised the bounty to $3.3 million.
Rushdie has been awarded numerous top literary awards, including two Whitbread Awards for best novel. He was knighted in 2007 while Tony Blair was prime minister. Blair released a statement about the attack.
Author Salman Rushdie at the Blue Sofa at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair on October 12, 2017 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
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“My thoughts are with Salman and all of his family,” Blair wrote on Friday. “A horrible and completely unjustified attack on someone exercising their right to speak, to write, and to be true to their beliefs in their life and art.”
Rushdie was scheduled to sit on a jury alongside Henry Reese, president of the City of Asylum in Pittsburgh, an organization that provides shelter to exiled writers under the threat of persecution.
“We ask for your prayers for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese, and patience as we fully focus on coordinating with police officials following a tragic incident at the Amphitheater today. today,” the Chautauqua Institute said in a tweet Friday. “All shows will be canceled for the remainder of the day. Please refer to NYS Police statement.”
The organization’s website describes the panel as “A discussion of the United States as a refuge for other writers and artists in exile and as a home for the freedom of creative expression.”
Rushdie is the former president of PEN America, a nonprofit that defends free speech and advocates for persecuted writers. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel released a statement after the attack.
Nossel wrote: “Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning, Salman emailed me to help locate Ukrainian writers in need of safe haven from the grave dangers without they have to face. “Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never faltered or faltered. He has devoted his tireless energy to supporting vulnerable and threatened people. .”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul thanked the New York State Police for their response to the Rushdie attack.
“Our thoughts are with Salman and his loved ones following this horrific event,” the governor wrote. “I have directed the State Police to provide additional however necessary assistance in the investigation.”
Hochul then says that Rushdie is still alive.
“It was a state cop who stood up and saved his life,” the governor said at an event about gun violence, adding that the event moderator was also attacked. “We are monitoring the situation, but he is receiving the necessary care at the local hospital.”
This is the latest in a series of on-stage attacks against public figures, including Representative Lee Zeldin, RN.Y., in a town near Rochester, New York, earlier this summer, Dave Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowland Chris Rock at the Oscars.
NBC News contributed to this report
Correction: Representative Lee Zeldin, RN.Y., was attacked in a town near Rochester, New York, earlier this summer. An earlier version misspelled his name and misplaced it.