Salman Rushdie’s agent has said “the news is not good” in an update on his condition after being stabbed on stage in New York.
The 75-year-old author, who was born in India and has British and American citizenship, was stabbed repeatedly by an assailant named as Hadi Matar while giving an interview before a live audience at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday.
“Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, has said in a statement quoted by the BBC, adding that he is currently on a ventilator and unable to speak.
While a motive for the attack has yet to be disclosed by the authorities, who have said Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen, radical Muslims have been baying for the author’s blood since the publication of his book The Satanic Verses in the 1980s, which included fictionalised interpretations of the life of the Islamic prophet regarded as blasphemous.
Indeed, the Ayatollah Khomeini, then-Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued an Islamic fatwa calling for the murder of Rushdie and his publishers in 1989 and put a bounty on his head, which has been raised several times over the years and is now worth millions of dollars.
A number of people connected to The Satanic Verses have indeed been killed or seriously injured before now — its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was stabbed multiple times in the chest, neck, and hands at his home in Milan by an assailant he described as Iranian in 1991, and its Japanese translator, Tsukuba University professor Hitoshi Igarashi, was found stabbed to death on his Tokyo campus days later.
The book’s Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard, was shot three times in the back outside his home in Oslo in 1993, allegedly by an Iranian diplomat and two Lebanese men, but like Capriolo, he managed to survive.
Perhaps the most gruesome such attack was carried out by a mob in Sivas, Turkey, which attempted to kill Aziz Nesin, a Turkish atheist who attempted to publish a Turkish translation of Rushdie’s book, by burning down a hotel he was staying in.
Nesin escaped the blaze, but 37 others, including two of the arsonists, perished in the flames.
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