Famous and controversial author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck at an event in New York on Friday. He was airlifted to an area hospital. An emergency surgery was conducted and he is put on ventilator. Doctors said the nerves of one hand were severed and he has the danger of losing one of his eyes.
The 75 –year old author received death threats earlier for his writings. The attacker was taken into custody by New York police. Chautauqua Institute, located in a rural area 100 kms from New York city, organized the event. It was a part of series of talks. The moderator of the talk Henry Reese received head injuries in the attack. The topic of the discussion was “The US as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.” As Reese was introducing the author at 11 am local time (8.30 pm in India), the attacker ran to the stage and stabbed Rushdie ten to fifteen times. It was confirmed by the AP reporter who was present there. About 2,500 people gathered there to hear Rushdie speak.
A British citizen of Indian origin, Rushdie has been living in the US for the past two decades. Since the controversy erupted on the publication of ‘The Satanic Verses,’ Rushdie has been under security cover. He has not been participating in public functions. He wrote copiously in spite of threat to his life.
The moment Rushdie was stabbed, he fell on the floor and the attacker was caught. People from the audience have surrounded the author. They held up his legs to help the blood flow into his heart. The people in the audience were evacuated from the hall. The Satanic Verses was banned by Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran who also issued a fatwa to kill the author. But Khomeini himself died on 3 June 1989. The attack on Rushdie lasted hardly 20 seconds. William Dalrymple, British author based in India, was in the audience. He was first to react. “A terrible day for literature, for freedom of speech and for authors everywhere. Poor Salman. I pray he is not hurt and recovers quickly,” he said.
Rushdie won Booker Prize for his book on modern India, “The Midnight Children,” published in 1981. His first book was published in 1975. It was a novel. In 2007, Rushdie was given the title ‘Sir’ by Queen Elizabeth of England.