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Author Salman Rushdie on a ventilator, may lose an eye after attack

Author Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie at the premiere of Gold in New York. Pic credit: ©ImageCollect.com/Dennis Van Tine/StarMaxWorldwide

Author Salman Rushdie was attacked and repeatedly stabbed on stage at an event in western New York.

The 75-year-old British author has been put on a ventilator and is reportedly unable to speak and may lose one eye as a result of the attempt on his life.

The award-winning writer is in critical condition at the time of writing this report after he was rushed to a hospital on Friday.

He has faced death threats for decades following the release of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses.

The award-winning novel sparked protests from some Muslims and credible death threats were made against Rushdie.

A fatwa calling for his assassination was issued by Ruhollah Khomeini, the former supreme leader of Iran, in 1989. Rushdie has been under police protection and has spoken about having a security detail or a lack of one in recent years.

Police have a suspect in the near-fatal stabbing

New York police have a 24-year-old named Hadi Matar in custody, according to the BBC.

Law enforcement believe Matar is the person who ran onto the stage and attacked both Rushdie and the interviewer.

According to the New York State police news conference, a motive has not been established following the apprehension of the suspect.

Rushdie reportedly suffered stab wounds to his neck and abdomen. 

The incident occurred at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state. The author was rushed to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania by helicopter.

A video shows the aftermath of the attack with people in the audience rushing to Salman Rushdie’s aid.

Police revealed that staff and attendees had pinned the attacker to the ground where he was arrested and a doctor in the audience gave the author medical assistance until first responders arrived.

The interviewer who was with Rushdie, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury and was taken to a local hospital.

Linda Abrams, a witness to the attack, told The New York Times that the assailant was determined to hurt Rushdie and continued the attack after he was restrained.

“It took like five men to pull him away and he was still stabbing,” Abrams said. “He was just furious, furious. Like intensely strong and just fast.”

Salman Rushdie said life was “relatively normal” just weeks before the attack

In an interview conducted just weeks before he was stabbed Rushdie sounded optimistic about his life after decades of living under threat.

He reportedly described himself as an optimist and added that his life was “relatively normal.”

According to Reuters, Rushdie reference the 1989 fatwa and said it was a long time ago.

“The news is not good,” Salman Rushdie’s agent said in an email about his condition, continuing: “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

According to witnesses and multiple reports, there was little to no security at the event.