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Salman Rushdie Survives Onstage Stabbing Attack While Lecturing in New York

The author of ”The Satanic Verses“ is hospitalized; the attacker has been identified

Salman Rushdie was attacked while lecturing Friday in New York, where he was stabbed in the neck by a man who rushed the stage. Rushdie, 75, was airlifted from Western New York’s Chautauqua Institution, where he had been due to speak.

Police detained a suspect named Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey, according to multiple reports. Authorities did not disclose a possible motive, and charges had not been filed.

Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck and the abdomen, and was helicoptered to a hospital in Pennsylvania. Gov. Kathy Hochul has since updated press on the author’s condition, confirming that he is alive and safe.

“Here is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power, someone who’s been out there unafraid despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life, it seems,” Hochul said before commending the state police officer who “stood up and saved his life, protected him.”

The Booker Prize–winning author of 1981’s “Midnight’s Children,” Rushdie is best known for his controversial 1988 work “The Satanic Verses.” Viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims for its depiction of the prophet Muhammad, that book led to varied death threats and vitriol in the Muslim world.

Under the late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian government went so far as to issue a 1989 fatwā calling for his death. A $3 million bounty was put on his head, and he became subject to varied attempted assassinations.

Rushdie went into hiding via a protective government program in the U.K. before slowly reemerging a decade later. His 2012 memoir, “Joseph Anton,” charted his life with the fatwā. Today’s Iranian government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s treatment of Rushdie, but resentment and the threat of violence has remained a constant.

Editors note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Rushdie as Iranian.

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