Recently, Salman Rushdie became the victim of an assassination attempt. For decades, senior Islamic clerics in Iran have threatened Rushdie with death. Here’s what happened.
Update(1530ET): The Chautauqua Institution, where Salman Rushdie was attacked earlier in the morning, allegedly seemed to have no security screening upon entry as the renowned author, who had formerly spent several years in exile subjected to official Iranian death threats (a fatwa from the Ayatollah), was supposed to address. The New York Times reports:
According to eyewitnesses in the audience, Rushdie was struck in the neck before the perpetrator, whose identity has yet to be confirmed, was apprehended. The event’s moderator was also injured, albeit it was described as minor. Since then, an image of a suspect in NYPD custody has surfaced.
Rushdie’s representative said that he is receiving surgery after being airlifted from the event to a nearby hospital:
Furthermore, no comment has been received from Iranian official representatives, according to the Times:
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Author Salman Rushdie was assaulted on stage in New York on Friday shortly before he was scheduled to deliver a lecture. For decades, senior Islamic clerics in Iran have threatened Rushdie with death.
“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,” AP reports. “The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained.”
Few specifics about his status were provided in the immediate aftermath, but the AP eyewitness suggests that he was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Blood was smeared on the rear wall where Rushdie was standing.
As per preliminary reports, he was stabbed in the neck, based on a police statement, but no specifics on his situation were provided.
“Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest,” the AP continues. “Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were then evacuated.”
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran, delivered a fatwa in 1989 that demanded Rushie’s death because of his divisive book, “The Satanic Verses.” The controversy surrounding the British-Indian author’s 1988 book increased its notoriety. It is a fictional description of an alternate history of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which was considered blasphemous by a large portion of the Muslim world.
According to prior reports from Iranian official media, the bounty has recently increased to nearly $3 million and was largely funded by a religious foundation with connections to the government. Tehran has since made attempts to downplay and disassociate itself from the previous anti-Rushdie fatwa on an administrative level. He has been the target of numerous botched assassination attempts over the years.
The attacker, who has not yet been named, is reportedly in NYPD custody.
Rushdie was spotted being life-flighted away from the scene in an undisclosed condition.
But as late as 2019, the current Supreme Leader reiterated and upheld the initial fatwa.