Salman Rushdie attacked at conference in New York

Salman Rushdiethe author whose writings prompted death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was assaulted on Friday as he prepared to give a talk in western New York.

An Associated Press reporter saw a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua facility and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was introduced. The author was taken away or fell to the ground, and the man was restrained.

Author Salman Rushdie receives treatment after being attacked during a lecture Friday, August 12, 2022 at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY

Joshua Goodman/AP

Rushdie’s condition was not immediately known.

A video purporting to show the aftermath of the attack was posted on social media.

Rushdie was present at the event to discuss “the United States as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the Chautauqua Institution.

Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

The Iranian government long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment persisted. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” people were interested in the award. That year Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton”, about his experience living under the fatwa.

Salman Rushdie
Author Salman Rushdie at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 12, 2017 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

In 2015Rushdie spoke about the murder of 12 people to the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdosaying that the right to freedom of expression is absolute or that it is not free.

“Both John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela use the same three-word phrase that in my mind says it all, namely, “Freedom is indivisible,” he said. “You can’t cut it out, otherwise it ceases to be freedom. You may not like Charlie Hebdo. … But the fact that you don’t like them has nothing to do with their right to speak.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.


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