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Rushdie Off Ventilator And Able To Talk After Knife Attack

A banner saying "the execution verdict of Salman Rushdi will be carried out" is hung at Tehran University in 2012. A year after Rushdie's The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death.

Salman Rushdie has been taken off a ventilator and is able to speak after suffering serious injuries in a knife attack.

Rushdie's agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed the information on August 13 to U.S. media without providing further details.

Earlier in the day, the man accused of attacking him on August 12 at a nonprofit education and retreat center in western New York pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a "preplanned" crime.

An attorney for Hadi Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment in western New York. A judge ordered him held without bail.

Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye in the attack. He was likely to lose the injured eye, Wylie said after the attack.

Rushdie has faced years of death threats for his novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims see as blasphemous.

Matar, 24, is accused of running onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stabbing Rushdie at least 10 times in the face, neck, and abdomen.

There was no official reaction to the attack in Iran, but several hard-line newspapers praised the attacker.

"A thousand the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York," wrote the Kayhan newspaper, whose editor in chief was appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "The hand of the man who tore the neck of God's enemy must be kissed."

The Satanic Verses was banned in Iran. A year after it was published in 1988, Iran's leader at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death.

Iran's government has distanced itself from Khomeini's decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semiofficial Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie, who was forced into hiding for many years because of the fatwa, dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was no evidence of people being interested in the reward.

In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the book's Norwegian publisher was shot three times and survived.

Khamenei has never issued a fatwa of his own withdrawing the edict, though Iran in recent years hasn't focused on the writer.

Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution to take part in a discussion about the United States serving as asylum for writers and artists in exile and "as a home for freedom of creative expression," according to the institution's website.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the "vicious attack" and praised Rushdie for his "refusal to be intimidated or silenced."

In a statement on August 13, Biden said that he and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, "together with all Americans and people around the world, are praying for his health and recovery."

He added that Rushdie "stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear."

Born in Mumbai, India, Rushdie holds British and U.S. citizenship and has lived in New York since 2000, according to Politico.

Matar was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, the mayor of the village, Ali Tehfe, told the AP news agency on August 13

Flags of the Iran-backed Shi'ite militant group Hizballah are visible across the village, AP reported, along with portraits of leader Hassan Nasrallah, Khamenei, Khomeini, and slain Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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