JK Rowling and Stephen King are among the authors and notable faces voicing their disbelief after Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage in New York state.
The Indian-born British author, 75, whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution when the incident occurred, leaving him with an apparent stab wound to the neck.
As he was transported to hospital by helicopter, with his condition unclear, a number of authors took to social media to speak of their shock following the “horrific” incident.
Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 12, 2022
Harry Potter author Rowling, said on Twitter: “Horrifying news.
“Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.
“Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”
Renowned American author of horror and fantasy novels King added: “I hope Salman Rushdie is okay.”
Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.
Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 12, 2022
Nick Barley, director of Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “As we open this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, we send love and best wishes to Salman Rushdie.
“Salman visited us last in 2019 and joined us online last year. We are inspired by his courage and are thinking of him at this difficult time.
“This tragedy is a painful reminder of the fragility of things we hold dear and a call to action: we won’t be intimidated by those who would use violence rather than words.
“As a gesture of support and solidarity we are inviting all authors appearing in the adult programme to read a sentence from one of Salman’s books at the beginning of their book festival event.”
Journalist and author of Empireland, Sathnam Sanghera, tweeted: “Passage from Midnight’s Children in my last ever exam. Poster of The Moor’s Last Sigh had place on my (pretentious) student bedroom wall. Quote from Satanic Verses opens Empireland.
“Lots of British Asian writers wouldn’t be writers without him. Pray he’s well.”
TV chef Nigella Lawson wrote: “This is horrific. Am distraught. Please, please let him be ok.”
A number of political figures also shared their shock, as photos emerged from the Associated Press news agency showing Sir Salman lying on his back with a first responder crouched over him.
Sir Salman’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims view it as blasphemous, and its publication prompted Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa calling for his execution.
Conservative leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “Shocked to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie in New York.
The horrific attack on Salman Rushdie in New York is appalling beyond words. I wish him well at this terrible time . This violence is an attack on free speech and can never be the answer. His assailant must be brought swiftly to justice.
— Angela Rayner 🌹 (@AngelaRayner) August 13, 2022
“A champion of free speech and artistic freedom. He’s in our thoughts tonight.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Freedom of expression is a value we hold dear and attempts to undermine it must not be tolerated.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “Shocked to hear that @SalmanRushdie has been stabbed in New York. Freedom of speech is fundamental to all strong democracies. Thoughts with him and his family.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner wrote: “The horrific attack on Salman Rushdie in New York is appalling beyond words. I wish him well at this terrible time.
“This violence is an attack on free speech and can never be the answer. His assailant must be brought swiftly to justice.”
While Shadow foreign secretary, Labour’s David Lammy, said: “This is just horrific. Salman Rushdie is a lion of a man and a hugely talented author.
“Praying he makes a full recovery and his cowardly attacker is brought to justice.”