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AUTHOR Salman Rushdie is suffering from severed nerves and a damaged liver after he was stabbed on stage during a lecture Friday.

Hadi Matar, 24, allegedly attacked Rushdie as he was being introduced at a summer literature festival at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater in western New York.

Novelist Salman Rushdie was stabbed while speaking on stageCredit: Getty
Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture on FridayCredit: AP:Associated Press
Stains of what is believed to be blood are marked behind a screen where Rushdie was seatedCredit: AP
Police say Matar stormed the stage and began attacking the authorCredit: AP
Rushdie's alleged attacker has been identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of New JerseyCredit: AP:Associated Press
Police are now searching properties related to the suspectCredit: Reuters
People are gathering at an evening vigil to pray for RushdieCredit: AP:Associated Press

Rushdie is on a ventilator and cannot speak after the incident, his agent Andrew Wylie told the New York Times.

"The news is not good," Wylie said in an email.

"Salman will likely lose one eye; nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged."

Matar, of New Jersey, had a pass to access the event and is currently in custody. State Police said they recovered a backpack at the scene as well as electronic devices.

The 24-year-old allegedly stormed the stage and began attacking Rushdie - who was scheduled to speak alongside author Henry Reese.

Witnesses told AP News that Rushdie, 75, fell through a barrier to the floor and was seen with blood on his hands.

“He was covered with blood and there was blood running down onto the floor. I just saw blood all around his eyes and running down his cheek," a witness told NYT.

Photos from the event showed a crowd rushing to aid the injured novelist. The audience also reportedly tackled the attacker.

Eyewitness John Mulherin, 80, a retired attorney from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, who was an attendee at the event told The U.S. Sun that a “dead silence” came over the audience following the attack.

“Salman Rushdie had just come out and there was a huge round of applause. He was just settling in to speak and had just sat down for a question-and-answer session.

“Immediately after they sat down a man came out from the left of the stage and stabbed him," Mulherin added.

NYSP said Rushdie was stabbed at least twice - once in the abdomen and in the neck. Reese sustained a minor head injury.

An AP reporter said he witnessed the man punch or stab the author "10 to 15 times".

"I couldn’t see from where I was sitting but I spoke with a woman who was closer and she saw blood on the floor," Mulherin said.

“He was stabbed in the neck which is so dangerous, as you know. There was a dead silence in the audience after the attack that was just palpable. Just real concern."

A series of pictures posted on Twitter by a witness showed medical personnel wheeling the British writer on a stretcher.

According to Mulherin, Rushdie was rushed to the tennis court where the ambulance helicopter had landed and airlifted to the hospital.

A second photo shared showed Matar wearing a camo pattern t-shirt, dark pants and black sneakers, and was handcuffed behind his back.

A witness told The Daily Beast that her husband saw Rushdie “able to walk with assistance” after the ambush.

Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were then evacuated.

A second witness told The Beast that Rushdie “had just come out and sat down” on stage when he was attacked by an individual who Pautler described as “heavy set and wearing a black headpiece.”

Rushdie's condition remains unknownCredit: Reuters
Author Salman Rushdie being treated by emergency personnel after he was stabbedCredit: Reuters
Salman Rushdie has been exiled from Iran since the late '80s due to his book The Satanic Verses, which Muslims call offensive to their religionCredit: Getty
Police evacuated the building following the incidentCredit: AP
A crowd gathered in New York for the evening vigilCredit: AP:Associated Press

The bystander said he believed the assailant was "punching" Rushdie but then realized he "was stabbing him".

“It didn’t take long for me to realize that he wasn’t punching Rushdie because you don’t punch with the side of your hand. It’s so surreal. The more you think about it, the scarier it seems," the witness said.

A trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody.

A motive for the attack has not been established. Police have yet to file any charges against Matar as they await Salman's condition to make a decision.

NYSP is currently searching properties associated with the suspect.

The White House released a statement regarding the attack that reads: "Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie.

"This act of violence is appalling. All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery."

The Chautauqua Institution event was billed as a discussion of “the United States as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression”.

The venue draws some of the world’s most prominent authors, politicians, and scientists to speak to thousands of guests.


Sources told The New York Post that an initial investigation suggests Matar is sympathetic to the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Just two days ago a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was charged with allegedly plotting to kill former national security adviser John Bolton.

Shahram, Poursafi, of Tehran, alleged that beginning in October 2021, he attempted to arrange Bolton's murder, likely in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani back in January 2020.

Working on behalf of the Quds Force, Poursafi attempted to pay $300,000 to people in the US for the murder, the Justice Department claims.

The department said there is no evidence that Poursafi has ever been to the US. He remains at large overseas and is wanted by the FBI.

Meanwhile, NYPD officials arrested a man with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle outside the home of outspoken Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad, 45, in Brooklyn on July 29.

Law enforcement officials observed Khalid Mehdiyev behaving suspiciously near Alinejad's home, attempting to open the front door and peeping through windows.

Alinejad has criticized the Iranian government for its status on human rights, particularly women's rights, and fled the country in 2009.

In 2020, Iranian officials unleashed a social media campaign calling for her abduction and return to the Islamic nation.


Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it offensive to Islam.

The Satanic Verses uses magical realism and was partly inspired by the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

He spent about 10 years under police protection in the United Kingdom, living in hiding after Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s execution.

A bounty of over $3million has been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.

A group of Pro-Iranian Hezbollah fundamentalists burned an effigy of British writer Salman Rushdie in 1989Credit: AFP
Iranian women are seen holding banners that read “Holly Koran” and “Kill Salman Rushdie” during an '89 demonstrationCredit: AFP

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

However, over the years, there have been several failed assassination attempts on Rushdie, including attacks on several people connected to its publication.

In 1991, Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was fatally stabbed and an Italian translator was also nearly killed in another attack.

In 2012, Rushdie published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about the fatwa.

Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes.

He is a former president of PEN America, which said it was “reeling from shock and horror” at the attack.

“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” CEO Suzanne Nossel told AP News.

“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered."