Writer and intellectual Salman Rushdie was attacked Friday morning as he was about to give a speech in Chautauqua, Western New York State.
The unknown attacker, whose face was covered in a black mask, walked onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institution just as the intellectual (who no longer travels with a security detail) was about to be introduced to the public. Before being stopped, the attacker allegedly managed to strike Rushdie ten times.
Rushie was then secured and thrown to the ground, where some rescuers lifted his legs to increase blood flow to his heart. The victim was rushed to the hospital by helicopter. His medical condition is not yet known. The person who was to interact with Rushdie on stage was also hit, suffering a minor head injury, according to a New York State Police press release.
For more than three decades now, the Indian-born but British-passported author has been forced to live semi-anonymously because of his Satanic Verses (1988). The novel was deemed grossly disrespectful to the Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic religion, so much so that Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini banned it in the Islamic Republic and called for Rushdie’s assassination in a 1989 fatwa (decree).
Since the 1990s, however, the Tehran government and Khomeini’s successor, Ali Khamenei, have distanced themselves from the decree. Rancor against Rushdie, however, has continued to simmer especially in radical Islamist circles, which in 2012 promoted a $3.3 million bounty for anyone who could kill him.
The Chautauqua Institution, where Rushdie was to speak, is a spiritual community located about 60 miles southwest of Buffalo in rural New York. No special security measures were in place for the event, as there were no metal detectors or inspection of personal possessions.