British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet he was “appalled” by the incident and expressed support for Rushdie’s recovery.
“Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right that we should never stop defending. At this time my thoughts are with his loved ones. We all hope he is well,” Johnson said on Friday .
French President Emmanuel Macron also tweeted his support for Rushdie after the attack.
“[For] At 33, Salman Rushdie embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we are at his side,” Macron said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also condemned the attack, calling it “disgusting and cowardly”.
“This senseless violence against a famous author is also an attack on global freedom of expression and deserves unequivocal condemnation. May he make a full recovery,” Albanese added.
The 75-year-old novelist, the son of a successful Muslim businessman in India, was educated in England, first at Rugby School and then at Cambridge University where he earned a master’s degree in history.
He then spent a decade under British protection after his fourth novel, ‘The Satanic Verses’, prompted Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a religious edict, or fatwa, calling for his dead.
The bounty against Rushdie was never lifted, but in 1998 the Iranian government sought to distance itself from the fatwa by pledging not to seek to enforce it.
But in February 2017, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reaffirmed the religious edict.
And in 2019, Khamenei tweeted that Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie was “solid and irrevocable”, prompting Twitter to impose a restriction on his account.
Iranian-born German politician Bijan Djir-Sarai blamed the Iranian government for the attack, saying in a Friday tweet: “The Iranian mullahs’ regime is also responsible for this cowardly attack. Anyone who wants normal relations with this regime should know that.
The suspect in the attack has been identified as Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey. There has been no official Iranian reaction to the attack yet.
However, several hardline Iranian newspapers praised Matar on Saturday, including the conservative newspaper Kayhan, whose editor is appointed by Khamenei.
“A thousand cheers, a hundred God bless. His hand must be kissed… Cheers to the warrior and devoted man who attacked the apostate and wicked Salman Rushdie. The warrior’s hand must be kissed. He tore the vein in Rushdie’s neck,” the newspaper read.
Another hardline newspaper, Khorasan, ran a headline, “The Devil on the Road to Hell” while showing a photo of Rushdie on a stretcher.
The news rocked authors across South Asia and the diaspora, including Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who said she was “shocked” by the news.
“I never thought this would happen. He lives in the West and he’s been protected since 1989,” said Nasreen, known for her writings on the oppression of women, and some of whose books have been banned in Bangladesh.
“If attacked, anyone who criticizes Islam can be attacked. I’m worried,” she said.
Aatish Taseer, a British-American writer and journalist whose Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card – a form of permanent residency available to people of Indian descent – was revoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, said that he was “devastated” by the news.
“Devastated by the news of @SalmanRushdie. He was the first writer I met and his determination to defend his freedom (and that of others) in the face of religious extremism has been a constant inspiration. I know he will be fine. He has to be,” Taseer said.
American writers and organizations have also been reeling from the attack. Rushdie has lived in the United States for the past few years.
Press freedom group PEN America said in a statement Friday that the organization was “in shock and horror” after Friday’s attack.
“We can think of no comparable incident of a public attack on a literary writer on American soil,” said CEO Suzanne Nossel.
“Salman Rushdie was targeted for his lyrics for decades but never flinched or wavered,” Nossel said. “He devoted tireless energy to helping those who were vulnerable and at risk.”
Nossel also said that hours before the attack, Rushdie emailed him asking for help in finding a safe haven for “Ukrainian writers in need of a safe haven from the grave perils they face. confronted”.
CNN’s Eyad Kourdi, Jake Kwon, Alex Stambaugh, Jonny Hallam and Ramin Moshtaghian contributed reporting.