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Novelist Salman Rushdie stabbed at New York lecture

Iran called for his death in the 80s over a controversial book.

August 12, 2022 12:18pm

Updated: August 15, 2022 5:34pm

Update, 12:49 p.m.: 

Rushdie was reportedly stabbed in the neck, reports Reuters, citing New York State Police and an eyewitness. He was rushed to the hospital via helicopter. 

PEN America, an advocacy group for freedom of expression of which Rushdie is a former president, said in a statement it was "reeling from shock" over the brutal attack. 

"Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered.  He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced," they wrote. 


Author Salman Rushdie, once targeted by the Iranian government over his work, was stabbed on stage in upstate New York on Friday.

The Indian-born British author was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, about one hour south of Buffalo, N.Y., when a man stormed the stage and began punching or stabbing him, reports the Associated Press.

Bystanders quickly came to Rushdie’s aid, restraining the assailant and tending to the novelist, who had been knocked to the ground.

It was unclear if the attacker was armed but blood spatter was spotted on stage’s backdrop after the incident.

Rushdie wrote the controversial 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which explores the Indian immigrant experience in contemporary England. It contains elements of magical realism, including a dream sequence that is a fictionalized account of the life of the prophet Muhammad.

The book sparked a harsh backlash among conservative Muslims who accused it of blasphemy and mocking their faith. It was banned in several countries, including Iran, India and Pakistan.

In 1989, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for the death of Rushdie and his publishers. His current bounty stands at $3.2 million after a Iranian religious foundation raised it by $600,000.