Writer Salman Rushdie, who received death threats, was stabbed to death in New York

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 Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born novelist who spent years in hiding after Iran ordered his death in 1989 for his writing, was stabbed in the neck as he was about to give a lecture in New York state. , according to police and an eyewitness.

Rushdie was alive and undergoing surgery in the afternoon, the New York police said.

A man ran onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and attacked Rushdie as he was being introduced to give a talk on artistic freedom to an audience of hundreds, the witness said. A state agent present at the event detained the attacker, police said.

The author fell to the ground as the man attacked him and was then surrounded by a small group of people who lifted his legs up, apparently to send more blood to his upper body, while the attacker was restrained, according to a witness who attended. to the event and asked not to be identified.

A doctor from the public helped tend to Rushdie while emergency services arrived, according to police. Henry Reese, the event’s moderator, suffered a minor head injury.

Police said they were working with federal investigators to determine the motive for the attack. It was not clear what type of weapon was used.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Rushdie, 75, was “getting the care he needs.” The writer was airlifted to a hospital.

LIVING THREATENED

Rushdie, born into an Indian Muslim family, faced death threats over his fourth novel, “The Satanic Verses,” which some Muslims say contains blasphemous passages. The novel was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations upon its publication in 1988.

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A year later, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to kill the novelist for blasphemy.

Rushdie went into hiding for many years. The Iranian government said in 1998 that it no longer supported the fatwa, and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years.

Nevertheless, Iranian organizations – some affiliated with the government – raised a million-dollar reward for Rushdie’s assassination, and Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in 2017 that the fatwa was still valid.

Rushdie published a memoir about his life under the fatwa called “Joseph Anton”, the pseudonym he used while under police protection. His new novel “Victory City” will be published in February.

Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution to participate in a discussion about the United States as a haven for writers and artists in exile and “as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the institution’s website.

He became a US citizen in 2016 and lives in New York City.

Rushdie has been a fierce critic of religion across its spectrum. He has criticized oppression and violence in his native India, including under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PEN America, a free speech advocacy group of which Rushdie is a former chair, said it was “recovering from the shock and horror” of what it called an unprecedented attack on a writer in the United States.

“Salman Rushdie has been under attack for his words for decades, but he has never flinched or wavered,” Suzanne Nossel, PEN’s chief executive, said in the statement.

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Earlier in the morning, Rushdie had emailed him to help relocate Ukrainian writers seeking refuge, he claimed.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York called it “an attack on free speech and thought.”

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