Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator and is quite serious after being stabbed up to 15 times on Friday while he was on stage to attend a literary event in New York. Rushdie is unable to speak, his liver has been damaged, and is likely to lose an eye, according to the writer's agent Andrew Wylie.
Rushdie was attacked on stage by a suspect, who police have identified as Hadi Matar, a man from New Jersey "with sympathies toward the Iranian government." Matar, 24, was arrested at the scene after being tackled by police moments after he pounced on Rushdie as he was preparing to deliver a speech.
Rushdie will survive but is likely to lose an eye after the brutal stabbing. He has undergone surgery but is quite serious and is unable to speak. "The news is not good," the 75-year-old writer's agent, Andrew Wylie, told The New York Times.
"Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged," said Wylie.
Rushdie was attacked by a lone attacker while giving a speech at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, which is located about 55 miles south of Buffalo.
According to the institute, he was supposed to speak about the US as a safe haven for writers who are in exile and a location where they can use their right to free speech. Rushdie, 75, who has been the subject of death threats from the Iranian regime since 1989 was airlifted to an Erie, Pennsylvania, hospital after the stabbing, where he underwent surgery.
According to reports, the alleged attacker is now in police custody and is an Iranian sympathizer. Hours after the attack, authorities swarmed Matar's Fairview, New Jersey house.
Law enforcement sources told The New York Post that a preliminary inquiry indicated Matar is sympathetic to the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard although he was born roughly nine years after the fatwa against Rushdie was first issued.
A video of the attack shows how Matar without care went on to the stage and started stabbing Rushdie, while hundreds of people in the audience watched in horror. According to a witness, who spoke to The New York Post, Rushdie attempted to run off the stage soon after Matar stabbed him for the first time.
However, he couldn't and the two men continued fighting as Matar kept on stabbing him before audience members rushed onstage to tackle the assailant.
At that moment, there were about 2,500 individuals in the audience. A state trooper assigned to the presentation arrested Matar at the scene.
Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. He and Rushdie were scheduled to talk about the US as a haven for writers and other exiled creatives.
New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski told reporters on Friday afternoon that officials do not have "any indication of a motive" at this "very early" stage of the investigation. They said they believed that Matar was acting alone.
Law-enforcement sources told the outlet that a preliminary inquiry indicated Matar had posted on social media about his support for Iran and its Revolutionary Guard as well as for Shia extremism in general.
Rushdie courted controversy with his award-winning book "The Satanic Verses". Iran banned him in 1988 as several Muslims view the book as disrespectful because he supposedly insulted Prophet Mohammed and The Koran.
After the release of "Satanic Verses", a culture war also sparked in 1988 in Britain. The book was also banned by Pakistan and the country issued a fatwa.
The fatwa, came after a string of book burnings in Britain and riots throughout the Muslim world that left 60 people dead and hundreds more hurt.
In 1989, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie's death. The fatwa was later retracted by the Iranian government, but as recently as 2012, an Iranian semi-official religious group put a $3 million bounty on the author's head.
Rushdie previously said that Iran sent him a "kind of Valentine's card" every year to remind him that the country has not forgotten its promise to kill him after forcing him to go into hiding for 10 years under police protection.