Salman Rushdie Has Lived Under Violent Threats for Years
SBooker Prize winner alman Rushdie author of internationally recognized books, including Midnight’s Children Satanic VersesOn Friday morning, he was injured at an event held in New York. He had not yet completed surgery on Friday afternoon. Though the attacker’s motive is not yet known, the incident marks the latest in a series of threats against Rushdie’s life and ideas, beginning with controversy surrounding the publication of Satanic Verses In 1988.
Salman Rushdie, what happened?
According to New York state police, Rushdie (75) and Henry Reese were attacked by a suspect on Friday morning at 11 AM. Rushdie was speaking in a lecture series at Chautauqua Institution’s 4,000-seat amphitheater, which is a non-profit education center and resort located in Western New York. It is approximately 400 miles away from New York City.
According to New York State Police, Rushdie sustained an apparent stabbing wound to his neck while Reese received a minor injury. At a press conference, Major Eugene Staniszewski stated that Rushdie was immediately given first aid by a doctor present late Friday afternoon. The helicopter then took him to the nearest hospital.
Trooper James O’Callaghan said at the press conference that there was not yet any indication of motive. Officials also stated that they are still trying to obtain search warrants but identified Hadi Matar, Fairview, New Jersey, as the man who was taken into custody.
Brad Fisher, an ex-advertising writer and former journalist, attended the event. Fisher explained that Reese had just started to make introductory remarks and that Fisher was about to take his seat. When a man stormed onto the stage, Fisher told him. He began pounding Mr. Rushdie’s chest in rapid strokes.
“I didn’t understand what I was seeing when this man started attacking—it was one of those things you don’t process,” Fisher said. “And then when I realized what was going on, it was shock and disbelief and all those things that people experience when they see a tragedy live.”
From where Fisher was sitting, about 20 rows back from the stage, he couldn’t tell whether the attacker was holding a knife. Fisher claimed that Rushdie fell on the stage and people started to gather around him. They subdued his attacker. At least two uniformed security officers showed up “very quickly,” Fisher said.
Fisher, he explained that he has attended Chautauqua Institution events since 1984. As the Institution nears its 150th anniversary, Fisher pointed out that “it’s always been safe, always been open, and always been accepting.”
“So today, we’re not just mourning Mr. Rushdie’s tragic attack, we’re also mourning a sad change in that open and freewheeling environment,” Fisher said. “I don’t think this place is going to be the same after this.”
Rushie’s condition is not yet known. Andrew Wylie was Rushie’s agent. TimesOn Friday, he underwent surgery.
Rushdie’s literary legacy
Rushdie is an Indian-born author who spoke at Chautauqua Institution in its summer programming. The theme of the week in which Rushdie was scheduled to speak revolved around redefining the concept of “home.”
Rushdie was born in Mumbai to a family of Indian Kashmiri Muslims. He later settled permanently there after completing high school. He is known for his novels, particularly 1988’s Satanic VersesInspired by Muhammad, the Islamic prophet.
After the publication in 1989 of Satanic Verses, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa—a legal ruling on a point of Islamic law—calling for his assassination. Rushdie was then placed under the protection of police by the British government.
Rushie is a well-known name in literary circles. The second book he wrote was called “Rushie’. Midnight’s ChildrenIn 1981, he won the Booker Prize and was knighted in 2007 for his contribution to literature. From 2004 through 2006, he served as president of PEN American Center. The center defends and promotes free expression.
“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, said in a statement. “Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning, Salman had emailed me to help with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge from the grave perils they face.”
There has been much controversy Satanic Verses
Publication of Satanic VersesHis fourth novel was met with protests by Muslims because it depicted the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad (also known as Mahound in the book) has added three verses to Quran that the narrator claims were derived from Archangel Gabriel. The book was banned in 13 largely Muslim countries, and Iranian state media renewed the fatwa with a $600,000 bounty on the author’s head in 2016. The book was the topic of deadly and massive protests in Pakistan. Rushdie survived an unsuccessful assassination attempt on his life in 1989. In 2010, he was added to the Al-Qaeda Hit List.
As the fatwa also called for the deaths of people involved with the book’s publication, and Rushdie himself was for many years in hiding, several people connected to the novel—including its Norwegian publisher, Japanese translator, Italian translator, and Turkish translator—were victims of apparent assassination attempts in the early 1990s. Hitoshi, the Japanese translator, died of his injuries. Many others also lost their lives in the attack on Aziz Nesin’s life, the Turkish translator.
“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered,” Nossel said. “He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced.”
“While we do not know the origins or motives of this attack,” she continued, “all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for legitimizing this assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting to readers.”
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