Famed British-Indian author Salman Rushdie was attacked in western New York on Friday as he was about to give a lecture.
Witnesses saw a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and assault Rushdie as he was being introduced, the Associated Press reported. The 75-year-old author was reportedly stabbed several times and fell to the floor. The assailant was restrained and taken into custody.
Bystanders rushed to the author’s aide and held up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest, the AP reported.
Hundreds of people in the audience watched in horror during the attack and were then evacuated from the scene.
Rushdie was flown to a hospital. His condition is unknown.
New York State Police said Rushdie suffered a “stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital.”
“On August 12, 2022, at about 11 a.m., a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer. Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known,” New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski said in a statement.
“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,” Staniszewski added.
Rushdie’s novel, “The Satanic Verses,” is highly controversial among Muslims, as some consider it to be blasphemous. In 1988, Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie and his publishers.
Iran has offered a bounty of over $3 million to anyone who kills Rushdie.
Though the Iranian government has since distanced itself from Khomeini’s edict, the fatwa is still in effect to this day. Iranian leadership insists only the person who issued a fatwa may withdraw it, according to journalist Yashar Ali. Khomeini has been dead for more than 30 years.
In 2012, an Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty on Rushdie’s head from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie downplayed the threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” anyone was interested in claiming the reward.
That same year, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title was taken from the pseudonym he had used while in hiding.
The Chautauqua Institution, located about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural part of New York, is known for its summertime lecture series, the AP reports. Rushdie has given lectures there before.