Salman Rushdie

Author Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator after a stabbing in New York

NEW YORK’S CHAUTAUQUA (AP) — Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and abdomen on Friday by a man who stormed the stage as the author was ready to deliver a lecture in western New York. The author’s book “The Satanic Verses” attracted death threats from Iran’s government in the 1980s.

Rushdie, 75, was rushed to a hospital where he had surgery while covered in blood. His agent, Andrew Wylie, reported that the author was on a ventilator on Friday night with a damaged liver, severed arm nerves, and a perhaps lost eye.

Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was the assailant, according to the police. At the Chautauqua Institution, a non-profit education and research facility where Rushdie was supposed to speak, the man was detained and was awaiting arraignment.

According to Mayor Ali The, Matar was born in the United States to Lebanese parents who fled Yaroun, a border town in southern Lebanon. He was born ten years after the original publication of “The Satanic Verses.”

Maj. Eugene Staniszewski of the State Police said it was unknown what motivated the attack.

Many Muslims criticized Rushdie’s 1988 book as blasphemous because, among other things, they felt that one of the characters made fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Iran, whose late supreme leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s execution, outlawed the book.

Theocratic Iran’s government and state-run media gave no explanation for the attack on Friday. Some Iranians interviewed by the AP in Tehran on Saturday cheered the attack on an author they felt had defiled the Islamic faith, while others expressed concern that it would further isolate their nation.

As Rushdie was being presented, an AP reporter saw the assailant approach him on stage and stab or strike him 10 to 15 times. Rushdie’s injuries were “severe but treatable,” according to Dr. Martin Haskell, a doctor who jumped in to help.

The 73-year-old co-founder of an organization that grants fellowships to authors facing repression and the event moderator Henry Reese were both assaulted. Reese was hospitalized for treatment after suffering a facial injury, according to the police. He and Rushdie were going to talk about how the US is a haven for writers and other exiled creatives.