Author Salman Rushdie attacked during a conference at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York
Salman Rushdie, the author whose writings led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was assaulted on Friday morning while giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.
A Associated Press reporter saw a man storming the amphitheater stage and allegedly stabbing Rushdie, 75, in the neck as he was introduced. Rushdie fell to the ground and the man was restrained.
The conference moderator was also attacked and suffered a minor head injury, police said.
Hundreds of people were evacuated as Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held his legs, according to the AP reporter.
Rushdie was airlifted to hospital. His condition was not immediately known.
Rushdie’s Book satanic verses has been banned in Iran since 1988 after the late Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said it was blasphemous. A year later, Khomeini issued a fatwa, or legal decree issued by an Islamic religious leader, calling for Rushdie’s death – attached to a reward that has since risen to $3.3 million, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Rushdie was invited to speak on the theme of the institution’s seventh-week summer lecture series “More Than Shelter” alongside Henry Reese – co-founder of the nonprofit nonprofit City of Asylum of Pittsburgh – for a “discussion of the United States as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for free creative expression,” according to the website of the institution.
In addition to being a bestselling and award-winning author, Rushdie is a past president of PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression through literature and human rights advocacy. .
In a statement, CEO Suzanne Nossel said PEN America was “in shock and horror.”
“We can think of no comparable incident of public attack on a literary writer on American soil,” Nossel wrote. “We fervently hope and believe that his essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.”
Rushdie came to Dallas in 2019 to promote his book, Quixote: A Novelas the inaugural speaker for the Arts & Letters Live season at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Regarding his “rather awful” past, Rushdie said The Dallas Morning News“one of the things i discovered about myself, that i wouldn’t have believed about myself, is that i was able to somehow get over it. get out, get out of it and get out the other end – and not be crazy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.