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Top Stories

'News Not Good' For Salman Rushdie After Attack: What We Know So Far

Salman Rushdie's publicist has said that he sustained injuries to his liver and may lose an eye because of the attack.

By - BOOM Team | 13 Aug 2022 5:37 AM GMT

Salman Rushdie, the booker prize-winning author who was attacked in New York on Friday, is said to be not doing so well. He has been put on a ventilator after he was been stabbed multiple times by a man called Hamid Matar during a literary event in New York. 

Here's what we know so far: 

Health status

Andrew Wylie, the author's agent, told the media on Friday, "The news is not good." The New York Times reported that Rushdie might lose an eye and his liver has been damaged because of the attack. 

The attack also left several nerves on Rushdie's arms damaged, which is likely to affect the functioning of his arm. The author is on a ventilator and was also unable to speak because of the attack. 

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Cops probe incident, involve FBI

While the police are still not sure about the motive with which the 24-year-old man attacked Rushdie, The New York Times reported that they have reached out to the FBI for help. This is to identify the motives of the suspect and their background. 

The moderator of the event, Ralph Henry Reese, was injured in his face during the attack. After release from the hospital, he told The New York Timses, "The fact that this attack could occur in the United States is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments and from many individuals and organizations."

The police have said that they did not have any indication of a threat to Rushdie's life before the event. BBC News reported that Matar went to the event alone, jumped on stage and stabbed Rushdie in his neck and abdomen. The police have said that Matar is from Fairview, New Jersey. 

The suspect was taken into police custody right after the incident after he was caught by people who were attending the incident and taken to the ground. 

Eyewitness accounts 

Eyewitnesses said there was a collective gasp from the audience when the attack was happening along with a scene of confusion. Mary Newsom, who was attending the event, told the BBC that there was no security around the author, and that when they were entering the event, tickets were checked but not bags. 

A video captured by an eyewitness and tweeted by Reuters showed people rushing to the stage and others at the back standing up to see what happened. 

Julia Mineeva Braun, another witness to the incident, said that the attacker approached the author from the left, dressed in all black. Sky News quoted Braun as saying, "It was very quick... we thought he was fixing his microphone, and then we saw the knife. He started stabbing him in the neck first… and Mr Rushdie got up and started running. We're still in shock."

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Years of threats 

Rushdie has been facing death threats for years because of his writing. Books like Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses have triggered violent reactions from various quarters, and people related to Rushdie have either been killed or attacked in incidents over the years and across the world. The Satanic Versus was opposed and banned in several countries, including in India.

In 1988, the book was published in London and banned in India. By the end of the year it was banned in South Africa, Sudan, Kenya and Bangladesh.

In 1989, copies of the book were burnt in the UK and the American Culture Centre was attached in the US, killing five people, reported AFP. Later in the same year, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa to kill Rushdie. A Lebanese man tried to plant a bomb in a London hotel, but died when the bomb exploded while planting it. Violence broke out in Mumbai, the city Rushdie was born in, resulting in the death of 12 people. 

In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was killed by stabbing and an Italian translator survived a knife attack.

In 1993, the book's Norwegian publisher was shot but survived the attack. In Turkey, arsonists set fire to a hotel killing 37 people because the Turkish translator of the book was staying there. 

In 1998, Iran said it won't stop any attempts to kill Rushdie. 

In 1999, to celebrate 10 years of the fatwa on Rushdie, a religious body in Iran put a bounty of 2.8 million USD on him. 

In 2007, Salman Rushdie visits Jaipur litfest in India without any trouble and was knighted by the Queen of England for his contribution to literature. 

In 2010, Inspire magazine published a hit list by Al Qaeda, and Rushdie's name featured on it. 

In 2012, the bounty was raised to 3.3 million USD. In the same year,  he had to call off his visit to India after massive protests and due to a security risk. Reacting to the news, then home minister P Chidambaram had said no one in the government prevented him from visiting India. 

In 2013, Rushdie said the local government in Kolkata did not provide security for him when he was set to visit the city to promote his book Midnights Children. However, the West Bengal government denied knowing that the author would visit the International Kolkata Bookfair. Event the organisers of the bookfair said they didn't invite Rushdie. 

In 2016, Iran's hardline news organisations said that it had raised $600,000 USD to add to an existing bounty on Rushdie.