Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked on Friday as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man stormed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and began punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. The author was taken or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained.
Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.
A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.
Witnesses said he was stabbed on stage just as he was about to give a speech at the Chautauqua Institution. A witness at the scene said the attacker had been detained after rushing towards the 75-year-old and attacking him.
His condition remains unclear. A witness at the scene said the attacker had been detained.
While the assailant’s motive remains unclear at this stage, the author has been a target for Islamists ever since he released the novel The Satanic Verses.
Lauded by critics, the 1998 book, which was partly influenced by the life of Mohammed, was attacked by authoritarian Muslims leaders, most notably the Iranian ayatollah.
In 1999, Ruhollah Khomeini ordered his followers to kill Mr Rushdie, a pronouncement which meant he required 24/7 police protection.
He spent years in hiding after the order was made and police have uncovered several plots on his life.
While no longer officially backed by the Iranian government, the country’s supreme leader has never withdrawn the fatwa.
A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills the author.