As of Sunday morning, author Salman Rushdie is still in critical condition following the attack on stage at an appearance on Friday in New York. Despite his injuries, Rushdie, 75, has kept his sense of humor, according to his son Zafar Rushdie.
A Statement from His Son with an Update on the Author’s Condition
The statement from his son reads, “Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving ongoing medical treatment. We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to stay a few words. Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humor remains intact.” The statement went on to say, “We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world. We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.”
His son’s statement comes just two days after the author’s agent, Andrew Wylie, gave a statement to the New York Times regarding Rushdie’s condition. “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.” At the time of the statement, Rushdie was on a ventilator and could not speak. On Sunday, his agent issued another statement saying the author is “on the road to recovery.”
The Suspect is in Custody
At a speaking event on Friday morning, a male suspect who has been identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey, ran up on stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stabbed the author as well as the interviewer. Rushdie’s condition was unknown right after the attack and he was airlifted to the hospital. A statement from the New York State Police said, “The interviewer suffered a minor head injury. A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.”
Matar pleaded not guilty on Saturday to the attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called, “a targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack.”
While there are still no motives known for the attack, Rushdie has dealt with death threats for many years since publishing his book, “The Satanic Verses” in 1988. The book was banned in Iran, and it’s been said that there is still a $3.3 million bounty on the author.
PEN America Spoke Out About the Incident
PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel gave a statement regarding the incident. “Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched or faltered. He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who are vulnerable and menaced,” she said. “While we do not know the origins or motives of this attack, all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for legitimizing this assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting readers. Our thoughts and passions now lie with our dauntless Salman, wishing him a full and speedy recovery. We hope and believe fervently that his essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.” Rushdie served as a former president of PEN America.
This wasn’t the first act of violence that has come in his book “The Satanic Verses.” Many violent protests have occurred over the years with more than 40 people being killed in the riots, as well as in other incidents.
Chautauqua Institution Modifying and Canceling Upcoming Programs
Shortly after the attack, audience members were evacuated and programs were canceled at the institution. The Chautauqua Institution does not have metal detectors or bag checks before entering the property but did have security. Programs for the day following the attack were canceled, and a message on their website on Sunday reads, “While some programs may be modified or canceled at a presenter or artist’s request, it is our intention to produce the full schedule of public Institution programs. Grounds access is limited to pass holders, those residing or renting on the grounds, and staff. Service workers need to visit ticket office for credentialing. Photo ID required. Please visit update.chq.org for announcements.”