Salman Rushdie has been taken to hospital after being assaulted on stage at an event in New York.
Rushdie suffered “an apparent stab wound to the neck” according to a statement released shortly after the incident by state police. His interlocutor also suffered minor head injuries, police said.
Video footage shows members of the public taking the stage to help. The attacker, who witnesses said was wearing a black mask, was subdued and taken into custody.
Who is Salman Rushdie?
Rushdie is a Booker Prize-winning Indian-British author. He wrote 14 novels, but is best known for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. In 2007, Rushdie was knighted for his services to literature. He has lived in the United States since 2000.
Why his work led to death threats?
The Satanic Verses – inspired in part by the life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, received critical acclaim in the UK and won the Whitbread Award for Novel of the Year in 1988.
However, it also caused major controversy as some Muslims accused the text of blasphemy and mocking Islam. It sparked a series of protests across the UK attended by thousands of British Muslims, many of which involved publicly burning the book.
A year later, the late Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, banned the book in Iran and issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.
He said: “I inform all zealous Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses – which has been compiled, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet and the Koran – and all those who are involved in its publication who knew its contents, are sentenced to death.
“I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they are, so that no one else dares to insult Muslim sanctities. God willing, anyone killed on this path is a martyr.
What has happened since the fatwa was issued?
A bounty of over £2.5 million ($3 million) had been offered to anyone who kills Rushdie. The perpetrator was forced into hiding under police protection for nine years, but dismissed the threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” people were interested in the reward.
In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased the bounty for Rushdie by $3.3 million. Later, in 2019, a Twitter account linked to Ayatollah Khomeini was temporarily banned after he tweeted “Imam Khomeini’s verdict on Salman Rushdie is based on divine verse and like divine verse it is solid and irrevocable”.
Were there any previous attempts on Rushdie’s life?
There have been a number of failed assassination attempts on Rushdie, as well as attacks on translators of the text.
In 1991, Hitoshi Igarashi, who had translated The Satanic Verses into Japanese, was stabbed to death in his office at the University of Tsukuba by an unknown assailant.
Where else has Have satanic verses been banned?
The book has been banned in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Tanzania, Indonesia, Singapore, and Venezuela.