New York – Salman Rushdie, a British-American author who received death threats for his infamous book “The Satanic Verses,” was attacked before an audience in Chautauqua, New York, this Friday. 

While the 75-year-old author was being introduced at the Chautauqua Institution, prior to a speech, a man attacked him “furiously,” even piercing his neck, witnesses said.

“It took five men to pull him away and he was still stabbing,” Buffalo resident Linda Abrams said to The New York Times. “He was just furious, furious. Like intensely strong and just fast.” 

After Rushdie had received multiple stab wounds – described “serious but recoverable” by a doctor who went on the stage to help – onlookers found he still had a pulse, and the author was airlifted to a hospital.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the suspect storm the stage, before beginning to punch and stab Rushdie.

Author Carl LeVan, who was in attendance, reported on social media that he had “just witnessed the horrific assassination attempt on #SalmanRushdie’s life.” He added that Rushdie was stabbed “multiple times before [the] attacker was subdued by security” and noted that the crowd was being evacuated.  

“What courage will be expected of us next to defend even the smallest freedoms?” Levan stated.

 

British-American author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London April 15, 2008. (Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo)

Many Muslims around the world accused Rushdie of blasphemy following the 1988 release of his controversial and acclaimed book “The Satanic Verses.” Iran banned the book soon after its release.

A year after the book’s publication, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, a legal pronouncement, calling for Rushdie’s death. The country offered a bounty of $3 million to anyone who would kill him. 

The A.P. noted that Iran’s government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but that anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. 

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