Author Salman Rushdie, who faced death threats and even a “fatwa” from Iran over his work, was attacked on Friday just as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.
Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua when a man attacked him on stage, punching and stabbing him, according to The Associated Press, whose reporter witnessed the attack.
The 75-year-old author fell to the floor while the attacker was restrained.
Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital, where his condition was unknown as of early Friday afternoon, the AP said.
A New York state trooper assigned to the event took the attacker into custody, The New York Times reported. The suspect was not immediately identified.
Some on social media have posted photos and even one short video of the attack.
WARNING: Some viewers might find the following images disturbing.
BREAKING NEWS: Salman Rushdie may have been attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. Lecture started at 10:45 a.m. My mom shared these photos of him receiving help. pic.twitter.com/ZHcgAshPJv
— Sara Scheely Johnson (@sarajohnsauce) August 12, 2022
NOW – Salman Rushdie is stabbed on stage in New York.pic.twitter.com/qFmYE6BC5E
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) August 12, 2022
Others on social media responded to the attack with concern and dismay.
“Just witnessed the horrific assassination attempt on #SalmanRushdie’s life. He was stabbed multiple times before attacker was subdued by security. Some intrepid members of audience went on stage. What courage will be expected of us next to defend even the smallest freedoms?” author Carl LeVan tweeted.
Just witnessed the horrific assassination attempt on #SalmanRushdie‘s life. He was stabbed multiple times before attacker was subdued by security. Some intrepid members of audience went on stage. What courage will be expected of us next to defend even the smallest freedoms?
— Carl LeVan (@Dev4Security) August 12, 2022
Rushdie is best known for his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” which many Muslims viewed as blasphemy.
Iran banned the book that year, and in 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini went so far as to issue a fatwa, or edict, for Rushdie’s death.
Iranian groups also put a substantial bounty on the Indian-born novelist’s head.
He had to have police protection and go into hiding after the fatwa was issued, the U.K.’s Guardian reported.
The bounty on Rushdie was increased to $3.3 million in September 2012, the month he published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa, according to the Guardian.
At the time, however, he dismissed the threat and said there was “no evidence” of anyone being interested in the reward for killing him.
In 2016, the bounty was raised to nearly $4 million, The New York Times reported.
In recent years, the government of Iran has moved away from Khomeini’s decree, but there is still violent sentiment against Rushdie among hardline Muslims.
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