Salman Rushdie stabbed in New York
Author Salman Rushdie, who suffered years of Islamist death threats after writing The Satanic Verses, has been attacked on stage in New York state.
The Booker Prize winner, 75, was speaking at an event at the Chautauqua Institution at the time.
New York State Police said a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer.
“Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck,” the police statement said.
Witnesses told US media he was stabbed multiple times in the neck and torso area, and appeared to fall backwards as he tried to move away from the assailant.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul told a press conference about an hour later that Rushdie was alive.
He was taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter. There has been no further official confirmation on the extent of his injuries.
The interviewer who was also on stage, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury. Reese is the co-founder of a non-profit that provides sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of persecution.
The suspect was immediately taken into custody, police said.
Mark Sommer, a reporter for Buffalo News, told the BBC News Channel that the attacker had emerged from the audience in a black mask.
A video posted online shows attendees rushing onto the stage immediately following the incident.
Indian-born novelist Rushdie catapulted to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone.
But his fourth book, in 1988 – The Satanic Verses – forced him into hiding for nine years.
The surrealist, post-modern novel sparked outrage among some Muslims, who considered its content to be blasphemous, and was banned in some countries.
A year after the book’s release, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for Rushdie’s execution. He offered a $3m (£2.5m) reward in a fatwa – a legal decree issued by an Islamic religious leader.
The bounty over Rushdie’s head remains active, and although Iran’s government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, a quasi-official Iranian religious foundation added a further $500 000 to the reward in 2012.
The British-American citizen – who was born to non-practising Muslims and is an atheist himself – has become a vocal advocate for freedom of expression, defending his work on several occasions. (BBC)