Author Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York

The novelist was about to present a lecture when he was attacked

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Author Salman Rushdie has been stabbed on stage at an event in New York.

The novelist was due to present a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, but eye witnesses say they saw a man run on stage and either punch or stab Mr Rushdie.

New York State Police say Mr Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to hospital, with New York governor Kathy Hochul confirming the author is alive and being treated at an area hospital.

"It is heartbreaking to learn that within the last hour, a prominent individual, Salman Rushdie, was attacked on a stage in western New York just before he was about to give a speech. He is alive. He has been transported, airlifted to safety," said Hochul at a scheduled event on gun safety.

Author Salman Rushdie is treated by emergency personnel after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.
Author Salman Rushdie is treated by emergency personnel after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.

The police have confirmed a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked both Mr Rushdie and an interviewer. The suspect has been taken into custody.

Rushdie fell to the floor when the man attacked him, and was then surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, seemingly to send more blood to his upper body, as the attacker was restrained, according to a witness attending the lecture who asked not to be named.

Police also confirmed the interviewer "suffered a minor head injury."

In a video posted online a number of attendees raced to the stage following the incident.

"We are dealing with an emergency situation. I can share no further details at this time," a Chautauqua Institution spokesperson said when contacted by Reuters.

Author Salman Rushdie is helped by people after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.
Author Salman Rushdie is helped by people after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.

Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution to take part in a discussion about the United States serving as asylum for writers and artists in exile and "as a home for freedom of creative expression," according to the institution’s website.

Rushdie, who was born into an Indian Muslim family, has faced death threats for his fourth novel, "The Satanic Verses," which some Muslims said contained blasphemous passages. The novel was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations upon its 1988 publication.

Author Salman Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022
Author Salman Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022

A year later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling upon Muslims to kill the novelist for blasphemy.

Rushdie went into hiding for many years. The Iranian government later backed away from the order and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years. Iranian organisations, however, have raised a bounty worth millions of dollars for Rushdie's murder.

JK Rowling and Stephen King are among the authors and notable faces voicing their disbelief after the stabbing.

Harry Potter author Rowling, said on Twitter: “Horrifying news.

“Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.”

Renowned American author of horror and fantasy novels King said: “I hope Salman Rushdie is okay.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he was horrified to learn that author Salman Rushdie has been attacked .

"Freedom of expression - in speech and in writing - is the foundation of a democratic society and must be cherished. As Rushdie said, we should protect writers as much as writing. I sincerely hope he recovers," Kwarteng said on Twitter.