Salman Rushdie 'remains in critical condition' after stabbing

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie - Credit: Booker Prizes/PA

Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed on stage, more than 30 years after a fatwa was ordered against him.

 The 75-year-old Indian-born British author has a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye from the attack on Friday (August 12). 

Sir Salman was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, in New York State, when he was attacked on stage.

On Sunday it was announced Sir Salman had been taken off his ventilator and is talking as he recovers.

His son, Zafar Rushdie, posted a statement rom the family on social media: “Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment.

“We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.

“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact.

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“We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.

“We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.”

New York state police have named the suspected attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, who was taken into custody following the incident.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme religious leader of Iran, issued the sentence of death in 1989 in response to the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses. The surrealist novel was taken to be blasphemous by some Muslims.

That year an assassination attempt failed when a bomb detonated prematurely in a Paddington hotel, killing the bomber. 

In the 1990s, the writer hid out for eight years in his home at Bishops Avenue – "Billionaires' Row" – in Hampstead. 

Major Eugene Staniszweski said at a press conference held in Jamestown on Friday: “Earlier today at approximately 10.47am, guest speaker Salman Rushdie, aged 75, and Ralph Henry Reese, age 73, had just arrived on stage at the institution.

“Shortly thereafter, the suspect jumped on to the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie, stabbing him at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen.

“Several members of the staff at the institution and audience members rushed the suspect and took him to the ground, and shortly thereafter, a trooper who was at the institution took the suspect into custody with the assistance of a Chautauqua County Sheriff’s deputy.

“Mr Rushdie was provided medical treatment by a doctor who was in the audience until EMS arrived on scene.”

Sir Salman Rushdie with The Satanic Verses in 1989

Sir Salman Rushdie with The Satanic Verses in 1989 - Credit: Adam Butler/PA

Mr Reese, from the City of Asylum organisation, a residency programme for writers living in exile under threat of persecution, suffered a minor head injury.

They were due to discuss America’s role as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.

New York governor Kathy Hochul told a press conference that a state police officer saved Sir Salman’s life.

She added: “He is alive, he has been airlifted to safety. But here is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power, someone who’s been out there unafraid, despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life.”

Sir Salman began his writing career in the early 1970s with two unsuccessful books before Midnight’s Children, about the birth of India, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.

It went on to bring him worldwide fame and was named “best of the Bookers” on the literary award’s 25th anniversary.

Finally, in 1998, the Iranian government withdrew its support for the death sentence and Sir Salman gradually returned to public life, even appearing as himself in the 2001 hit film Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Salman Rushdie during a media conference in Islington in1998

Salman Rushdie during a media conference in Islington in1998 after "assurances" from Iran about the death sentence - Credit: PA/John Stillwell

His other works include The Moor’s Last Sigh and Shalimar The Clown, which was long-listed for the Booker.

He was knighted in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

In 2012, the architect secretly employed to build Salman Rushdie’s safe house in The Bishops Avenue spoke to the Ham&High about the author’s years in hiding under a fatwa.

David Ashton Hill was asked by him to design the home in “Billionaires’ Row”, which he bought in 1991 after being forced into hiding.

Mr Ashton Hill said he was advised by the Home Office that Mr Rushdie’s cover would be “blown” within nine months of him moving in and a “hit” on him was also expected.

The house, which had its own swimming pool, was designed to also accommodate four armed police officers.

The author actually lived in The Bishops Avenue without detection for eight years.

Salman Rushdie walks publicly in Islington in 1998

Salman Rushdie walks publicly in Islington after a media conference in 1998 following "assurances" from Iran about the death sentence - Credit: PA/John Stillwell