Salman Rushdie taken off ventilator, talking; accused pleads not guilty
Salman Rushdie is no longer on a ventilator and is able to speak, as per his book agent Andrew Wylie, a day after he was stabbed at a New York event. Rushdie was still in the hospital with severe injuries, but fellow writer Aatish Taseer reportedly tweeted late at night that he was "off the ventilator and talking" (and joking).
Why does this story matter?
To recall, Rushdie sparked a major controversy with his fourth book, The Satanic Verses, released in 1988. The Indian-born author has also faced death threats, which forced him to go into hiding. Some Muslims were outraged by his novel's theme. They regarded it as blasphemous, which led to its ban in some countries. Anti-Rushdie riots in India and Iran also claimed several lives.
Details regarding the development
Rushdie's agent confirmed the news to the Associated Press without providing any additional information. However, the tweet has since been removed. Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai and raised in Britain and the United States (US), is known for his surreal and sarcastic prose style, which began with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel Midnight's Children. In the book, he harshly criticized then-PM Indira Gandhi.
Rushdie was stabbed 10-15 times in neck and abdomen
"Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was damaged," Wylie stated earlier. Meanwhile, officials said Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and abdomen 10-15 times and was flown to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, via helicopter. The interviewer who was on stage with him also sustained a minor injury and was shifted to a hospital.
Accused Haidi Matar pleaded not guilty in court
Hadi Matar, 24, is accused of attacking Salman Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. Earlier on Saturday, he didn't plead guilty to attempted murder and assault charges, despite a prosecutor calling it a "preplanned" crime. During the western New York arraignment, Hadi Matar's attorney entered the petition on his behalf. In this case, the court reportedly ordered Matar's arrest without bail.
Matar showed support to Iran's extremist group: Police
Some reports said Matar sympathized with the Iranian regime, which had advocated for Rushdie's execution. His Facebook page allegedly featured a photograph of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian leader who issued a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989 following the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Matar had also posted on social media in support of Iran's extremist group Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
More details regarding the case
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation arrested Matar on Friday for 2nd-degree attempted murder (B Felony) and assault. He was processed at the State Police Jamestown station and taken to the Chautauqua County Jail. "This was a targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack," Attorney Jason Schmidt reportedly stated. Authors, activists, and government officials worldwide condemned Rushdie's attack as an infringement upon free speech.
US President Biden expresses 'shock and sadness' over the attack
In a statement issued on Saturday, US President Joe Biden expressed his and first lady Jill Biden's "shock and sadness" over the attack. "Salman Rushdie —with his insight into humanity....unmatched sense for story....refusal to be intimidated or silenced—stands for essential, universal ideals," the statement read. "Truth. Courage. Resilience....ability to share ideas without fear....are the building blocks of any free and open society," it added.
Other reactions over the attack
"Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend," tweeted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that Rushdie "embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism." Macron said Rushdie was the victim "of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism."Share this timeline