CHAUTAUQUA — Author Salman Rushdie was assaulted during a morning court appearance at the Chautauqua Institution.
According to state police, Rushdie was apparently stabbed in the neck and was airlifted to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known. The interviewer sustained a minor head injury. A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.
An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the incident said the man stormed the stage and began punching or stabbing Rushdie as he presented. The perpetrator was taken away or fell to the ground, and the man was restrained.
Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who lifted his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest. His condition was not immediately known.
Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were later evacuated.
Rushdie’s Book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.
A bounty of over $3 million was also offered to anyone who kills Rushdie.
The Iranian government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment persists. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no proof” people interested in the reward.
That year Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anthony” on the fatwa. The title comes from the alias Rushdie had used while in hiding.
Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning novel in 1981 “The Midnight Children” but his name became known worldwide after “The Satanic Verses.”
Rushdie is the author of 14 novels, four non-fiction books and a collection of short stories, in addition to being co-editor of two anthologies. Winner of many of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world, he was founding president in 1994 of the International Parliament of Writers (now the International Network of Cities of Asylum) – an organization created to create structures capable of helping and to support persecuted writers, and what eventually became known as the Cities of Asylum Network.