Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s agent, told the newspaper that Rushdie’s condition is “not good,” adding, “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged."
Attendees of an event hosted by the Chautauqua Institution reported that an attacker rushed the stage and attacked the 75-year-old Rushdie. A man began “punching or stabbing Rushdie,” according to initial accounts by the Associated Press; it was later reported that Rushdie sustained stab wounds in both his neck and abdomen. New York State Police said in an earlier statement that Rushdie was transported to a hospital via helicopter.
Police have identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. New York State Police said Friday evening that a motive for the attack was still unclear. A New York state trooper took the alleged attacker into custody after he was reportedly restrained by audience members.
Rushdie, a celebrated author whose works include The Satanic Verses, has long been the subject of death threats, after the then-Ayatollah of Iran issued a fatwa against him in 1989, and since then a a bounty of more than $3 million has been put on his head.
A person answering the phone for the Chautauqua Institution Police Department, an onsite policing agency, said they could not yet provide details of the assault. Attendees were evacuated, according to multiple reports.
The Chautauqua Institution is a longstanding institution located in the New York town of the same name and describes itself as “a community of artists, educators, thinkers, faith leaders and friends dedicated to exploring the best in humanity.” At the time of the attack, Rushdie was taking part in an interfaith lecture series in the institution’s main amphitheater, which seats several thousand people.
His fellow speaker, City of Asylum Pittsburgh founder Henry Reese, suffered a minor head wound, according to New York State Police, and has been treated and released at a local hospital.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Chautauqua Institution wrote, “We ask for your prayers for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese, and patience as we fully focus on coordinating with police officials following a tragic incident at the Amphitheater today.” All programs on the grounds were canceled for the rest of the day.
This story is still developing.