Award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak Friday night after being stabbed at a public event in New York state earlier in the day, his agent Andrew Wylie said.
The 75-year-old British-American Indian-born author has long received death threats from Islamists for his work.
“The news is not good” Wylie said in an email to the media. “Salman will probably lose an eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.
The author was stabbed in the neck and chest on stage while giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in the US state of New York. Rushdie was airlifted to hospital after the attack.
New York State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who was arrested at the scene.
Staniszewski added that police are working with the FBI and the local sheriff’s office to obtain search warrants for the suspect’s backpack and electronic devices. “We have no indication of a reason at this time”, he told reporters, adding that police believe the suspect acted alone.
In 1989, Iran’s former religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict calling for Rushdie’s death for writing “The Satanic Verses”, a novel that many Muslims considered offensive to their faith.
The New York Post quoted law enforcement sources as saying on Friday that Matar had posted social media messages in support of Iran and its elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as “Shia extremism more broadly.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul condemned the attempt on Rushdie’s life as “an attack on some of our most sacred values - the free expression of thought.”
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