Salman Rushdie stabbed: what we know about the attack on the author of “Satanic Verses”

Briton Salman Rushdie, author of ‘Satanic Verses’ and target for more than 30 years of a fatwa from Iran, was placed on a ventilator after being stabbed in the neck and abdomen in New State on Friday York, while he was on stage, in the middle of a conference. The alleged attacker was quickly arrested.

What happened ?

This Friday, British author Salman Rushdie was attacked as he prepared to give a literary lecture in the cultural center in Chautauqua, a small town in New York state located 100 km from Buffalo, near Lake Erie which separates the United States from Canada.

VIDEO. Writer Salman Rushdie stabbed in the neck during a conference in New York State

At around 11 a.m. (local time), “a suspect rushed onto the (amphitheater) stage and attacked (Salman) Rushdie,” police said. The presenter of the conference present at his side, Ralph Henry Reese, 73, was also hit, and is “slightly injured in the face”.

According to The Guardian, members of the public and conference organizers rushed the attacker, who was quickly arrested and taken into custody.

What condition is Salman Rushdie in?

Immediately after his attack, Salman Rushdie was transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski told reporters.

Salman Rushdie was evacuated by helicopter after his attack. TWITTER @HoratioGates3 /via REUTERS

“The news is not good,” the British writer’s agent, Andrew Wylie, told the New York Times on Friday evening. “Salman will probably lose an eye, the nerves in his arm were severed and he was stabbed in the liver,” he detailed, adding that the 75-year-old writer had been placed on life support.

Who is Salman Rushdie?

Born on June 19, 1947 in Bombay, two months before India’s independence, raised by a family of non-practicing Muslim intellectuals, rich, progressive and cultured, Salman Rushdie made a name for himself in particular through the publication of his book “The Satanic Verses”.

This bestseller, considered blasphemous with regard to the Koran and Muhammad by fundamentalists, led the Iranian Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini to issue, in 1989, a “fatwa” demanding the assassination of the author. Forced from then on to live in hiding and under police protection, going from cache to cache, Salman Rushdie called himself Joseph Anton, in homage to his favorite authors, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

From 1993, tired of being “an invisible man”, he resumed traveling and public appearances, while remaining under British government surveillance, and now lives in New York. In 2007 he was knighted by the Queen of England.

Who is her alleged attacker?

Shortly after the attack, police arrested Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man believed to have been born in California but currently lives in New Jersey.

According to the New York Post, Hadi Matar was showing signs of sympathy for the Iranian government. The American newspaper, citing police sources, reports that the suspect had posted messages on social networks in support of the Revolutionary Guards and, more broadly, radical Shiites.

What are the motivations of the attacker?

The police assured that, for the time being, the motivations of the alleged attacker were still unknown. The search of the suspect’s home, in progress, could allow the police and the FBI – whose agents were seen on the spot, according to the NBC channel – to find out more.

If it is therefore currently not established that the attack has a link with the call for murder of which Salman Rushdie was the subject, the Iranian conservative press nevertheless congratulated Hadi Matar for his gesture. “Congratulations to this courageous and conscious man who attacked the apostate and the vicious Salman Rushdie”, for example wrote the main Iranian ultra-conservative daily, Kayhan. The Iranian power, for the moment, has not officially commented on the assassination attempt on the 75-year-old intellectual.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, died in 1989, but the call to assassinate the author has never been lifted since. Over the years, many translators of his book have also been injured by attacks, even killed, such as the Japanese Hitoshi Igarashi, victim of several stab wounds in 1991.

What are the reactions?

Many personalities, especially politicians, reacted to the attack on the author. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right that we should never stop defending”, referring to freedom of expression. “His fight is ours, universal”, launched for his part on Twitter the French president, Emmanuel Macron, ensuring to be “today, more than ever, by his side”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said through his spokesman that he was “horrified” by the attack, adding “in no way was the violence a response to words”. The association for the defense of writers in the world, PEN America, was also “in shock”.

“Nothing justifies a fatwa, a death sentence”, was indignant for its part Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper decimated by an Islamist attack in 2015. “The freedom to think, to reflect and to express oneself has no no value to God and his servants. And in Islam, whose history has often been written in violence and submission, these values ​​simply have no place because they are so many threats against its hold on people’s minds”, believes Riss, the chief editor.

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