Over 33 years after Iran's leader Ayotullah Khomeini had issued a fatwa of death to the renowned India- born British author Salman Rushdie, he was stabbed by a young American at a function in New York and injured critically.
Rusdie, 75, is currently on a ventilator and is likely to lose an eye after he underwent surgery following the attack at a literary event on Friday night.
Rushdie has received death threats from Iran for his book The Satanic Verses that some Muslims considered blasphemous. Eyewitnesses said while the anchor was introducing the author, a young man suddenly jumnped on stage and stabbed him at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen.
Rushdie's literary agent, Andrew Wylie, sent an update on his condition, saying the author was on a ventilator and cannot speak. "The news is not good," he said adding "Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged."
Rushdie who shot to fame by winning Booker prize for his Novel Midnights' Children in 1981, faced death threats over his book The Satanic Verses which was released in 1988. India also banned the book.
Several literary figures and public officials reacted to the attack on Rushdie.
Bangladeshi author who has been living in exile, first in Europe and now in India, after death threats to her on book Lajja (Shame) by Islamic hardliners, said she is worried.
I just learned that Salman Rushdie was attacked in New York. I am really shocked. I never thought it would happen. He has been living in the West, and he has been protected since 1989. If he is attacked, anyone who is critical of Islam can be attacked. I am worried.— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) August 12, 2022
Bollywood writer Javed Akhtar also condemned the attack on Rushdie:
I condemn the barbaric attack on Salman Rushdie by some fanatic . I hope that NY police and the court will take the strongest action possible against the attacker .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) August 12, 2022
Salman Rushdie has a multi-million-dollar bounty on his head.
French President Emmanuel Macron is among the world leaders who has spoken on the attack:
For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 12, 2022
State Police said Rushdie, who appeared to have been stabbed in his neck, was flown by helicopter to a hospital from the remote education and spiritual centre in Chautauqua about 550 km from New York City, but did not disclose his condition.
The alleged assailant, who pushed him to the floor and attacked him, was taken into custody by a state police trooper who was there, police said. Ironically, Rushdie was participating at the Chautauqua Institution in a "discussion of the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression," according to the organisation's website.
Following the publication in 1989 of his novel, "Satanic Verses", which some Muslims considered blasphemous, the then Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death.
Various Iranian organisations put rewards of more than $3 million for killing writer.
Rushdie went underground with British government protection for several years and moved to the US in 2000 and has since been in public. He escaped an assassination attempt in 1989 when a bomb went off at a London hotel where he was thought to be staying and demolished two floors of the building.
The Mujahidin of Islam group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Al Qaeda also put him on its hit list along with several literary and media figures it claimed insulted Islam.