Man Storms NY Lecture Stage, Attacks Salman Rushdie

Police say author was stabbed in the neck, and his condition is not known
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 12, 2022 10:29 AM CDT
Updated Aug 12, 2022 11:31 AM CDT
Salman Rushdie Attacked on Lecture Stage in NY
Author Salman Rushdie appears at a signing for his book "Home" in London on June 6, 2017.   (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP, File)

This story has been updated with a statement from New York State Police. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked Friday as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. An AP reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing the 75-year-old author as he was being introduced. The author was taken or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained. New York State Police said in a statement that Rushdie "suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known."

Police said an interviewer on stage with Rushdie suffered a minor head injury. Erin Rowley tells the Daily Beast that her father witnessed the attack. "My father said the assailant was a male dressed in dark clothes and had a dark head covering on," she says. "He stabbed him he believes three times, but at least twice." Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death. A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.

Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million. Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was "no evidence" of people being interested in the reward. (More Salman Rushdie stories.)

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