Salman Rushdie Attacked On New York Lecture Stage

Author Salmon Rushdie, 75, was stabbed in the neck Friday morning by an attacker who rushed him on a lecture stage in Chautauqua in western New York.

A reporter with Associated Press was present when a man confronted Rushdie on a stage at the Chautauqua Institution and appeared to hit and stab him 10 to 15 times. A bloodied Rushdie was flown from the location of the attack to a nearby hospital.

Rushdie’s condition upon reaching the hospital was not immediately reported. According to his agent, Andrew Wylie, the writer was undergoing surgery.

The attacker was arrested on the scene and had not been identified by Friday afternoon.

Dr. Martin Haskell is a physician who was on site when the attack occurred. He rushed to render aid to Rushdie and told reporters that his wounds appeared to be “serious but recoverable.”

Henry Reese was the moderator of the event where the attack occurred and also suffered a minor head injury according to police. Reese is the co-founder of an organization that provides residencies and services to writers who face political persecution.

Some attendees at the event questioned the level of security provided, given the threats against Rushdie that have been made for decades. There has long been a bounty outstanding on Rushdie in the Muslim world, with a reported reward of $3 million offered to anyone who kills him.

Kathleen Jones witnessed the attack and told reporters the perpetrator was dressed in black and wearing a black mask. She said that she and those around her thought the attack might have been a stunt at first, given the controversy that surrounds the writer. She said it became evident within a few seconds that the attack was real.

Rushdie has been a prominent advocate for free expression for many years. His novel “The Satanic Verses” published in 1988 has been seen by many Muslims as blasphemous and insulting to the religion’s prophet, Muhammad.

The book has been banned in Iran since it was first published. Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989, demanding his death.

Rushdie entered a protection program provided by the U.K. government that year and remained protected by guards for nine years. He cautiously reentered public life and resumed a schedule of public appearances.

In 2012, he said that the only way to defeat terrorism “is by deciding not to be afraid.”