Salman Rushdie – live: Author ‘alive’ after being stabbed in neck on stage at New York event

·14-min read

Salman Rushdie has been stabbed in the neck after an assailant stormed the stage at an event in western New York on Friday morning

The Booker Prize-winning author, 75, was stabbed “several times” at 11am at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state, the New York State Police said in a statement.

He was airlifted to an area hospital by helicopter, and his condition is unknown, state police said.

A suspect was immediately taken into custody by a state trooper assigned to the event.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul told reporters Mr Rushdie was “alive” and “getting the care he needs” at a press conference at around 12.30pm.

The person who was interviewing Mr Rushdie suffered a minor head injury.

Salman Rushdie was the subject off death threats over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses (2017 Invision)
Salman Rushdie was the subject off death threats over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses (2017 Invision)

Mr Rushdie was the target of death threats over the publication of his 1988 book The Satanic Verses.

A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Mr Rushdie’s death.

Iran has also offered over $3m in reward for anyone who kills Mr Rushdie.

He went into hiding for several years after the fatwa was issued.

Mr Rushdie has two sons and has been married four times, most recently to model and television host Padma Lakshmi. The couple wed in 2004 before divorcing three years later.

He was knighted in 2007 for “services to literature”, and is a long-term resident of New York City.

Salman Rushdie attacked on stage

  • Salman Rushdie ‘stabbed’ during event in western New York

  • Suspect has been taken into custody

  • Writers association ‘reeling from shock and horror’

  • Footage shows aftermath of Rushdie attack

  • Rushdie alive ‘and getting the help he needs’, NY Governor says

Why did Iran issue a fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989?

21:45 , Bevan Hurley

On 14 February, 1989, Irananian religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on “all brave Muslims” to kill Salman Rushdie and those who helped translate and sell the book to the masses.

Mr Rushdie went into hiding for nearly a decade, living under the protection of Scotland Yard and changing locations frequently.

In addition to numerous death threats against the author himself, those who helped create and market the work were also targeted.

In 1991, the novel’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death, and two years later the book’s Norwegian publisher was injured in a shooting.

Josh Marcus has more.

What is a fatwa and why did Iran issue one against Salman Rushdie in 1989?

New York State Police to give update on Salman Rushdie attack at 5pm

21:42 , Bevan Hurley

The New York State Police have announced they will be holding an update on the attack on Salman Rushdie at 5pm EST.

Witnesses tell of seeing Salman Rushdie stabbing

21:15 , Bevan Hurley

Witnesses to the Salman Rushdie stabbing say they were told to evacuate the amphitheater after hearing rumours that the attacker may have left a backpack near the stage.

Capital Tonight reporter Ryan Whelan spoke to several people who were in the audience at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state on Friday.

Police step up security at Erie hospital where Rushdie is undergoing surgery

20:59 , Bevan Hurley

Salman Rushdie is undergoing surgery at the UPMC Hamot hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to police.

Erie Police Deputy Chief William Marucci II told reporters from the Buffalo News that the hospital had been placed into modified lockdown and officers were assisting with security.

UPMC Hamot is a 458-bed hospital approximately 38 miles (62kms) west of the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state where Mr Rushdie was attacked.

Why Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ remains so controversial

20:45 , Bevan Hurley

In a 2018 essay, republished today in Independent Voices, Myriam Renaud writes of the enduring controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie’s most famous work.

“For many Muslims, Rushdie, in his fictional retelling of the birth of Islam’s key events, implies that, rather than God, the Prophet Muhammed is himself the source of revealed truths.”

Read the essay here.

Why Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ was so controversial

Boris Johnson ‘appalled’ at Rushdie stabbing

20:30 , Bevan Hurley

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has voiced his shock over the brutal attack Salman Rushdie at a literary event in western New York state on Friday morning.

“Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend,” Mr Johnson tweeted.

“Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”

Mr Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.

Cultural centre where Rushdie was stabbed asks for ‘prayers'

20:15 , Bevan Hurley

The New York cultural centre where Salman Rushdie was stabbed onstage as he prepared to deliver a lecture on Friday morning has issued a statement asking for “prayers” for the author.

The Chautauqua Institution also paid tribute to Henry Reese, who was sitting next to Mr Rushdie and received minor head injuries during the incident.

“We ask for your prayers for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese, and patience as we fully focus on coordinating with police officials following a tragic incident at the Amphitheater today.

“All programmes are cancelled for the remainder of the day.”

Stephen King and other literary figures react as author stabbed onstage

20:00 , Bevan Hurley

Figures from across the literary world have reacted in shock to news that Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage at an event in New York.

Louis Chilton has the full story.

Stephen King and other literary figures react as Salman Rushdie stabbed onstage

'He was covered with blood’

19:45 , Bevan Hurley

Witnesses to the attack on Salman Rushdie told of a “tall, slender” man repeatedly stab the author moments after he took the stage at a writer’s event in western New York.

Roger Warner, who was in the front row of the audience at the at the Chautauqua Institution, told the New York Times he initially thought Mr Rushdie had been punched, before noticing pools of bloodworm around him.

“He was covered with blood and there was blood running down onto the floor,” Mr Warner told The Times.

“I just saw blood all around his eyes and running down his cheek.”

Another attendee Kathleen Jones told the Associated Press she thought it might have been a stunt.

“But it became evident in a few seconds” that it wasn’t, she said.

A group of people quickly surrounded Mr Rushdie and held up his legs, to send more blood to his chest, the AP reported.

Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution (AP)
Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution (AP)

Rushdie in surgery after stabbing, literary agent says

19:34 , Bevan Hurley

Salman Rushdie’s literary agent says the author is undergoing surgery.

Andrew Wylie, of The Wylie Agency, provided the update in an email to news outlets.

No further details of his condition were immediately available.

Earlier, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Mr Rushdie was “alive” and getting the care that he needs, after he was stabbed several times at a literary event in western New York.

Sir Salman Rushdie is in surgery for stab wounds suffered during an attack on Friday morning, his agent says (PA Archive)
Sir Salman Rushdie is in surgery for stab wounds suffered during an attack on Friday morning, his agent says (PA Archive)

Salman Rushdie ‘stabbed in neck’ on stage at New York event

19:20 , Bevan Hurley

The renowned British-Indian novelist was on stage preparing to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when a man stormed the stage and stabbed him, according to an AP reporter who witnessed the attack.

Richard Hall has this full report.

Salman Rushdie ‘stabbed in neck’ on stage at New York event

Literary figures express ‘shock and distress' for Salman Rushdie

19:05 , Bevan Hurley

The literary world is in shock over the stabbing of Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday morning.

American Gods author Neil Gaiman wrote on Twitter: “I’m shocked and distressed to see my friend Salman Rushdie has been attacked before a talk. He’s a good man and a brilliant one and I hope he’s okay.”

Stephen King tweeted: “I hope Salman Rushdie is okay.”

“Horrifying news,” Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted.

“Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.”

Nigella Lawson ‘distraught’ over Rushdie stabbing

18:50 , Bevan Hurley

Nigella Lawson says she is “distraught” over the brutal attack on Salman Rushdie at a writer’s event in New York on Friday morning.

“Such shocking news of Salman Rushdie having been stabbed,” the acclaimed cookbook author wrote on Twitter.

“This is horrific. Am distraught. Please, please let him be ok.”

Ms Lawson has been friends with the Satanic Verses author for nearly four decades, and frequently socialised with him while he was in hiding due to death threats from Iranian religious leaders in the late 1980s.

Last year, she told how British security agents protecting Mr Rushdie had stormed her kitchen after mistakenly fearing there had been an “assassination attempt”.

Nigella Lawson and Salman Rushdie (Richard Young/Shutterstock)
Nigella Lawson and Salman Rushdie (Richard Young/Shutterstock)

Chuck Schumer condemns ‘shocking and appalling’ stabbing

18:35 , Bevan Hurley

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has condemned Friday morning’s attack on Salman Rushdie on social media.

“This attack is shocking and appalling. It is an attack on freedom of speech and thought, which are two bedrock values of our country and of the Chautauqua Institution,” the long-serving New York senator said on Twitter.

“I hope Mr Rushdie quickly and fully recovers and the perpetrator experiences full accountability and justice.”

New images show aftermath of Rushdie attack

18:21 , Bevan Hurley

Salman Rushdie is “alive” after being stabbed in the neck onstage on Friday, according to New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

New images show Mr Rushdie being taken to a helicopter before he was airlifted to hospital after Friday’s attack.

Salman Rushdie is transported onto a helicopter after being stabbed on Friday morning (AFP via Getty Images)
Salman Rushdie is transported onto a helicopter after being stabbed on Friday morning (AFP via Getty Images)

In a separate image, blood spatter can be seen on a wall next to where Mr Rushdie was attacked at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state.

Blood stains mark a screen on the stage where author Salman Rushdie was during a knife attack during a lecture in New York (AP)
Blood stains mark a screen on the stage where author Salman Rushdie was during a knife attack during a lecture in New York (AP)

Mr Rushdie is “getting the help he needs”, according to Ms Hochul.

Rushdie alive ‘and getting the help he needs’, NY Governor says

18:02 , Bevan Hurley

New York Governor Kathy Hochul says Salman Rushdie is alive and “getting the care he needs”.

“It is heartbreaking to learn that within the last hour... Salman Rushdie was attacked on a stage in western New York just before he was about to give a speech,” Ms Hochul said at a press conference.

“He is alive, he has been transported, airlifted, to safety.”

Why did Iran issue a fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989?

18:00 , Bevan Hurley

On 14 February, 1989, Irananian religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on “all brave Muslims” to kill Salman Rushdie and those who helped translate and sell the book to the masses.

Mr Rushdie went into hiding for nearly a decade, living under the protection of Scotland Yard and changing locations frequently.

In addition to numerous death threats against the author himself, those who helped create and market the work were also targeted.

In 1991, the novel’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death, and two years later the book’s Norwegian publisher was injured in a shooting.

Josh Marcus has more.

What is a fatwa and why did Iran issue one against Salman Rushdie in 1989?

'He has a pulse’

17:46 , Bevan Hurley

An eye witness to the attack on author Salman Rushdie said he suffered “multiple” stab wounds.

Rita Landman told the New York Times that there was a pool of blood around Mr Rushdie as he was attended to on-stage at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state.

“People were saying, ‘He has a pulse, he has a pulse he has a pulse,’” Ms Landman told the Times.

Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution (AP)
Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution (AP)

Salman Rushdie announced release of 15th novel days before attack

17:40 , Bevan Hurley

Just three days before he was stabbed on stage at a book event, Salman Rushdie announced the release of his 15th novel Victory City.

The book’s publication date was slated for February next year.

Mr Rushdie’s most famous works include Midnight’s Children, Satanic Verses and Fury.

He has also written several acclaimed non-fiction books including The Jaguar Smile, and his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton.

Footage shows Salman Rushdie attack

17:17 , Bevan Hurley

Footage filmed by an audience member shows the aftermath of the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Security members rush the stage and restrain the suspected attacker as Mr Rushdie lies on the floor in the short clip.

The footage was filmed by Rabbi Charlie Savenor and posted to his Twitter account.

Writers association ‘reeling from shock and horror’ at Rushdie attack

17:09 , Bevan Hurley

PEN America CEO Suzanne Noseel says the writer’s association is “reeling from shock and horror” over the attack on Salman Rushdie.

“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil,” Ms Noseel said in a statement.

She said Mr Rushdie, a former president PEN America, had emailed her just hours before the incident to ask for help with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge.

“Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered,” she 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, all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for legitimising this an assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting to readers.”

Salman Rushdie ‘devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced’ (AP)
Salman Rushdie ‘devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced’ (AP)

Images on social media show a suspect being taken into custody

16:42 , Bevan Hurley

A man suspected of attacking Salman Rushdie has been taken into custody, according to journalist Ryan Kelly.

Salman Rushdie attacked on stage

16:38 , Bevan Hurley

Salman Rushdie was attacked live on stage at an event in western New York state on Friday.

Richard Hall has the details.

Salman Rushdie attacked on stage during event in New York