Critically Acclaimed Author Salman Rushdie Attacked and Stabbed in Chautauqua, New York
Salman Rushdie, the 75-year-old critically acclaimed author, was attacked and stabbed in Chautauqua, New York. The attack took place on the morning of Friday, August 12th.
Rushdie was getting ready to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution when he was attacked by 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey. Rushdie was stabbed several times in the neck and abdomen before members of the audience restrained his attacker.
According to witnesses, Matar appeared to be extremely angry and had to be restrained by at least five people. A doctor in the audience administered First Aid to Rushdie before he was rushed to a medical facility by helicopter.
According to reports, the author was immediately placed under surgery for hours. Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed that his client had been seriously injured, was on a ventilator, and could not speak.
“The news is not good,” Mr. Wylie said. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; his liver was stabbed and damaged.” Rushdie had long been the subject of death threats for his novel, The Satanic Verses, and unconfirmed speculation suggests this attack may have been due to that.
Rushdie is a successful author who has published several books to his name. His first novel, Grimus, was not a massive success but it had critics proclaiming Rushdie had the potential to become a great writer. His second novel, Midnight’s Children, took five years to write and was such a success that he won the Booker Prize in 1981.
Rushdie’s life changed for the worse after he wrote what was his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The novel, published in 1988, was a huge success but was seen by some Muslims as blasphemous. The book was deemed blasphemous as it referred to supposed verses of the Koran that were allegedly removed.
The Muslims who were displeased with the book also claimed it depicted the founder of Islam, Muhammed, in a disrespectful light. This led to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issuing a fatwa (religious decree) that Rushdie and all those involved in the publishing of the book be killed.
Still on the attack and stabbing of Salman Rushdie…
This led to several controversial incidents. Rushdie, fearing for his life, was forced to live in hiding for over a decade. The Satanic Verses were banned in several countries including India, Pakistan, Sudan, and South Africa.
The book sparked protests in several countries, with some of these protests leading to the deaths of many people. In July 1991, the Japanese translator of the book, Hitoshi Igarashi was stabbed to death. Two other attacks followed, with Italian translator Ettore Capriolo attacked in Milan. He survived the attack.
The Norwegian publisher of the book Willaim Nygaard was shot three times outside his home in Oslo and also survived the attempt on his life. Time has moved forward; the Iranian government has distanced itself from the fatwa but it remains active. Rushdie himself came out of hiding and has been living in New York, leading a seemingly normal public life. The attack against him drew several reactions from all over the world.
“I’m utterly horrified by the cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie. I pray for his recovery. He is an essential voice and cannot be silenced,” said fellow author Khaled Hosseini.
“I don’t know why this happened to Salman Rushdie or actually WHAT happened. But it brings back the memory of terrible days and years when-if you were a writer-you could be condemned to DEATH…for a book. For a book…” exclaimed playwright Bonnie Greer.
Not all words directed at Rushdie were of support. Some people still believed that he should die for The Satanic Verses.
“This deserves congratulation: God willing, we will celebrate Salman Rushdie going to hell soon,” Keyvan Saedy, an Iranian pundit wrote on Twitter. It appears the issue with The Satanic Verses is still relevant in 2022.
Police indicated that at the moment of writing, no clear motive for the attack against Rushdie had been discovered. It is believed that the suspect, Hadi Matar, was acting alone. According to reports, local police are working with the FBI in the investigation. It appears his home was also searched.