Salman Rushdie attacked, stabbed while lecturing in New York

August 12, 2022 • 11:09 am

This is what we were all afraid of. It’s been 33 years since the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, but the rancor remains.  He’s had a bodyguard, I think, but somehow the protection was bypassed. An AP report gives sketchy details about his attack in New York. It sounds serious, and the other photos at the AP are not heartening.

Some of the article:

Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked Friday as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained.

Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest.

His condition was not immediately known.

Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were then evacuated.

Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many 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.

Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward.

That year, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.

Here’s a photo. We don’t know who the perpetrator was, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m hoping hard that he’ll survive.

(From AP): Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo. (AP Photo/Joshua Goodman)

37 thoughts on “Salman Rushdie attacked, stabbed while lecturing in New York

    1. I found Midnight Children as well as his Satanic Verses not really ‘relaxed’ reading, but certainly ‘good’ reads. You really (well I) have to take your (my) time.
      I’ll bet a good bottle of (Haram!) wine that most, if not all, of those publicly burning the Satanic Verses haven’t read the book .

  1. I am shocked. Truly horrific. I’ve long been a fan, and am currently re-reading one of his books at this moment, which is a strange and sad coincidence. Who knows what the motive of the attacker was? (I’d be willing to be this is Islamic/Iranian terror, but we don’t know for sure yet.) Right now, I only want him to pull through. But whatever happens, I’m sure of one thing: his writing will long, long outlive his attacker (and, I’m sure, the Islamic Republic itself).

    Also: BLEEP the BLEEPERS who did this, whoever they may be.

    Pull through, Salman. Pull through.

  2. I’m a big fan of Rushdie’s work, and was deeply saddened by the news of this attack. I hope that he will pull through.

  3. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to conclude that this was a result of the fatwah, now at $3.3 million. This is the violence and inhumanity that religion breeds.

      1. I have never read The Satanic Verses but feel I must. Everywhere we look free speech is under attack. He was there to speak about writers & politics – writers are at the forefront of the free speech struggle. We must hope for a speedy recovery.

        1. I bought a copy of The Satanic Verses shortly after Khomeini issued the fatwa as a show of solidarity. I read the controversial passages out of curiosity, and tried to plow through the rest of the novel, but found it tough sledding. Midnight’s Children, OTOH, was a masterpiece.

          Here’s hoping Mr. Rushie has a full and speedy recovery from whatever injuries he sustained in the attack.

          1. I got myself a copy too, for the same reasons. I didn’t know that there were specific places of controversy, so just started reading and found it enormously tough sledding. I set a goal of at least getting to pg 100, and at about pg 91 it suddenly got readable when a hijacker (IIRC) jammed a gun butt into a creationst’s jaw causing him to sever his tongue (or something like that) but then it went right back to skating on gravel and I gave up @ pg 100.

            But not once in those 100pgs did I encounter anything that I thought might be offensive, but what do I know.

            1. As I recall, there are three dream sequences in the novel that touch upon the so-called “satanic verses” in the Qur’an. I couldn’t tell while reading them why these sequences were so controversial, but then I’m not steeped in Qur’anic scholarship.

              I espied the novel on one of my bookshelves a couple years back and snatched it off to take a look. The original bookmark I’d been using when I later tried to plow my way through it from the start was still stuck in the book where I stopped, a bit short of a quarter of the way through, which I think put me in the vicinity of page 100, too.

      2. > I am avoiding speculating

        Great point. Too many people’s lives have been destroyed due to speculation and mobbing behaviors.

        Unfortunately, I can’t see a single possible desirable outcome. Any good defense lawyer would make plead insanity (and unfortunately, religion could be viewed as a socially acceptable form of insanity, from the idea that eating crackers is a form of cannibalism to … well, anything else, really). From the government side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone pull out the Patriot Act and escalate this from a state court to a federal one. The ‘Tough On Crime’ crowd always gets a lot more support during election years.

        The sad thing is how every detailed prediction will probably depend on the intersectional identity of the defendant. There are now too many opponents of “justice for all”.

        1. I can easily see a ‘good’ outcome, albeit not exactly very probable.
          If the Ctrl left once and for all would distance themselves from radical Islam, or even better: all Islam (the most patriarchal, belligerent, intolerant, homophobic, misogynistic and imperialist faith we know of*), instead of smooching up to it, that would be a great outcome.

          * about everything you dislike in Christianity, Islam excels at, with a little star.

          1. I don’t see that happening. If we were to presume that this was a faith-based attack, the New Left could simply reframe it in terms of the assailant being a member of an oppressed population who is lashing out. We’ve seen similar analyses of other criminal acts. There are no major players I trust to push for outcomes I like.

            I really wish the current wave of religious activism (1994+) had only occurred after the West had started treating religion like a mental illness. Instead, we are watching compromise after compromise. Twenty years ago, I used to think there was hope for secular Europe, if not the US – but I was wrong.

          2. What (probably) happened here is routinely happens around the world and the ctrl left could not care less. Their weird alliance with Islamism (on paper the opposite of everything they supposedly stand for) is much stronger than to be shaken by some murder. So yes, not exactly very probable is an understatement.

      3. You’re right in that it’s not right to speculate. Nevertheless the fact that there was a fatwa and that Rushdie has had to live in fear for his life still makes my point about religion.

    1. My twitter feed has photos of the suspect being put in a police car. But I agree pure speculation as to the guy’s background or motives.

  4. Damn, this really sucks. I hope we find out more, soon. I just did a search and nothing new is being reported.

  5. Not a good day. Fanatics poison everything.

    A Reuters article minutes old (~1PM Eastern) says he was stabbed in the neck, was helicoptered to a hospital and that no further information about his status is available at the time.

  6. Good friends of mine just got back to Virginia after two weeks at Chautauqua. The Chautauqua Institution hosts a nine-week series of lectures, films, music events and the like each summer near Jamestown, N.Y. Rushdie and Henry Reese (city of Asylum in Pittsburgh) apparently were onstage and about to speak for the 10:45 lecture this morning when he was attacked.

  7. After all he has endured for all those years, it is still just unbelievable. So heartbreaking. I saw him speak a few years ago in Kansas City for his Quichotte book tour and he was just wonderful. A kind man with a keen mind and an excellent author and speaker. I hope he pulls through.

  8. Holy shit, that’s awful. It’s nuts that after such a long time he still had to deal with this risk, and I would understand if his security arrangements had gotten a little complacent by now. Unfortunately it’s a hallmark of the fanatic not to get complacent.

  9. I’ve been watching this terrible story with interest and concern. I hope that Rushdie survives this horrific attack.

  10. Let me be callous: if he doesn’t survive, he will be a great martyr for atheism and apostatic Muslims.

    For all clarity, I hope with all my heart he will recover, he’s a treasure trove of good ideas, and is reputed to be a kind and hospitable man. And is/was a great writer too.

  11. “Salman Rushdie’s agent has said “the news is not good” after the author was stabbed at an event in New York state.
    He was attacked on stage, and is now on a ventilator and unable to speak, Andrew Wylie said in a statement, adding that the author will lose one eye.”


    This is so sad, and I dearly hope he’ll survive and recover.

  12. From the NYT:

    “Major Eugene J. Staniszewski of the New York State Police identified the suspect in the attack as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man who was arrested at the scene, but said at a news conference late Friday afternoon that there was no indication yet of a motive.”

    Hmm, what could it be? Surely it has nothing to do with the $3M religiously motivated bounty on his head.

    1. Too soon to say regarding motive. But if it was religiously motivated, a real zealot would not care about a reward in this life.

  13. Unreasonably cruel.

    A masked man has stormed the stage from where Rushdie was lecturing, according to witness statements to the AP news agency.

    According to the New York State Police, the man stabbed Rushdie in the neck and abdomen. Another person who was on stage suffered a minor head injury. Shortly afterwards, the perpetrator was taken to the ground by staff and people in the audience.

    Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie announced during the night of Saturday that the author is being cared for on a ventilator and will probably lose an eye. He added that the nerves in one arm are damaged and that the liver has been punctured.

    … the New York police announced that the suspect has been identified as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from the state of New Jersey. The motive for the knife attack is unclear.

    According to the AP, whose reporter was in the room, the man either punched or stabbed Rushdie between 10 and 20 times. A few hundred people in the audience witnessed the assault. A witness tells AP that the attack lasted around 20 seconds.

  14. There’s no doubt that Matar will be released and that any attempt to put him in jail will be seen as “racism.” Now imagine if there had been armed security onsite… do you think this would have happened?

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