Salman Rushdie, the renowned author who was brutally attacked two days ago, is slowly recovering after suffering stab wounds in the neck and chest, his family says.
“Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact,” the author’s son, Zafar Rushdie, wrote in a statement on Twitter on Sunday.
The novelist was taken off a ventilator and able to speak “a few words,” according to his son. However, Rushdie remains in critical condition, he added, and will stay in the hospital to receive “extensive ongoing medical treatment.”
Salman Rushdie, whose ‘The Satanic Verses’ led to death threats against him for blasphemy, was attacked while participating in an event in New York state, media reports said.
India-born Rushdie, 75, was speaking at an event of the Chautauqua Institution when a man ran onto the stage and either punched or stabbed him, the BBC reported citing eyewitnesses.
According to reports, amid gasps of horror from the audience, a few people ran onstage and managed to restrain the assailant, while others rushed to the aid of the author who had collapsed on the stage.
In a statement late Friday night, Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie said: “The news is not good… Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” dpa news agency reported.
The attacker stormed the stage at the event held in the Chautauqua Institution attended by hundreds of people at around 11 a.m. on Friday and stabbed the 75-year-old Indian-born novelist, according to a police spokesman.
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairview, N.J., was charged with attempted murder and assault, New York State Police said. On Saturday, Matar pleaded not guilty, according to The Associated Press. He continues to be held without bail, police said.
Rushdie was treated by a doctor who was in the audience until rescue workers arrived and took the author to hospital by helicopter. He was stabbed at least once in the neck and in the abdomen, authorities said
The attacker is thought to have acted alone, the spokesman added. Iran denied any involvement Monday in last week’s attack that left author Salman Rushdie with severe injuries after he was stabbed in the neck and abdomen onstage at an event in western New York.
In its first public reaction to the stabbing, Iran said Rushdie and his supporters were to blame for the attack, more than three decades after Tehran issued a directive for Muslims to kill Rushdie because of his book “The Satanic Verses,” published in 1988.
Rushdie was giving a lecture at a cultural centre as part of a series titled “More than Shelter” which intended to discuss the US as a safe haven for exiled writers and persecuted artists.
Because of his 1988 work “The Satanic Verses”, a fatwa was issued against Rushdie by then-Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the author’s death.
Some Muslims felt their religious sensibilities were offended by the work. Whether Friday’s attack was at all related to the decades-old fatwa was unclear.
Rushdie’s publisher last year said the fatwa has long since stopped affecting the author’s life, and that he is no longer restricted in where he goes and no longer needs bodyguards. The writer told German magazine Stern days earlier that he felt safe in the US, and that the threat was from a long time ago.
Writers including JK Rowling and Stephen King expressed their horror at the attack. US writers’ organization PEN America said it was “reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack” on Rushdie.
“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered,” PEN America chief executive Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.
Rushdie was born in Mumbai in 1947, the year of Indian independence. He later studied history at Cambridge University in Britain. He had his breakthrough as an author with the book “Midnight’s Children”, which was awarded the prestigious Booker Prize in 1981.
In it, he tells the story of India’s detachment from the British Empire based on the life stories of protagonists who are born at the precise moment of independence and are endowed with supernatural abilities.
Rushdie has published more than two dozen fiction, non-fiction, and other writings overall. His style is referred to as Magic Realism, in which realistic events are interwoven with fantastic elements.