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Rushdie Suffers Stab Wound To Neck, Flown To Hospital

FILE - Author Salman Rushdie appears at a signing for his book "Home" in London on June 6, 2017. Rushdie has been attacked while giving a lecture in western New York. An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage Friday at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP, File)

CHAUTAUQUA — Author Salman Rushdie has been attacked during a morning appearance at the Chautauqua Institution.

State Police say Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known. The interviewer suffered a minor head injury. A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.

At a press conference in the afternoon, State Police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J. Charges have not yet been announced.

Due to the attack, Chautauqua Institution has canceled all programs for Friday, including those in Jamestown.

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the incident said the man stormed the stage and began punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. The author was taken or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained.

New York State Police are pictured on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution after an attack on author Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held up 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 then evacuated.

State Gov. Kathy Hochul issued this statement on Friday afternoon: “It is heartbreaking to learn that within the last hour, a prominent individual, Salman Rushdie, was attacked on a stage in Western New York, just before he was about to give a speech. He is alive. He has been transported, airlifted to safety, but he is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power. Someone who’s been out there unafraid despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life, it seems. And it happened at a site that is a place that’s very familiar to me. A very tranquil, rural community known as Chautauqua, Chautauqua Institution, where the most preeminent speakers and thought leaders and politicians and justices, and everyone come together to have the free expression of thought.”

Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be 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 has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.

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

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward.

That year, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.

Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children,” but his name became known around the world after “The Satanic Verses.”

Rushdie is the author of 14 novels, four works of nonfiction and a collection of short stories, in addition to serving as co-editor of two anthologies. The winner of many of the world’s top literary prizes, he served as founding president in 1994 of the International Parliament of Writers (now the International Network of Cities of Asylum) — an organization formed to create structures capable of aiding and supporting persecuted writers, and what eventually became known as the Cities of Asylum Network.

Author Salman Rushdie, behind screen left, is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Goodman)

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