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Rushdie could lose an eye, his literary agent says as US identifies assailant as Hadi Matar, fundamentalist with pro-Iran views

WASHINGTON: Author Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator and could likely lose an eye following an on-stage attack on him , his literary agent has said, even as law enforcement authorities in New York identified his assailant as 24-year old Hadi Matar from New Jersey, believed, on the basis of his social media posts, to be a supporter of fundamentalist forces in Iran which initiated a fatwa on the writer in 1988.
Salman Rushdie stabbed LIVE updates
“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,” the New York Times quoted his agent Andrew Wylie as saying in an email. Rushdie was flown to the UPMC Hamot Surgery Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, for treatment following the brazen attack that left him with stab wounds in the neck and abdomen.

Authorities said Matar drove from his home in Fairview, New Jersey to Chautauqua in Upstate New York, where Rushdie, 75, was a guest speaker at a local literary festival. He was being interviewed by Henry Reese, 73, when Matar rushed on to the stage to attack him.

Matar was pinned down by audience members who jumped on stage to protect the panelists, and a doctor among them helped administer CPR to Rushdie before he was airlifted to hospital. Reese was also hurt in the attack but was released from a local hospital following treatment for injuries.

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Co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, he and Rushdie were slated to talk about US as a refuge for writers in exile.
In a statement issued later, Reese called Rushdie “one of the great defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of creative expression,” adding, “The fact that this attack could occur in the US is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments and from many individuals and organizations.”

The attack, given Matar’s purported Iranian sympathies, immediately took on geo-political colors, coming as it did just days after the Biden administration’s Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of trying to orchestrate the assassination of former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Iran’s fundamentalist clerical leadership led by Ayatollah Khomeini had passed a death sentence fatwa on Rushdie following the publication of his book Satanic Verses in 1988. The fatwa had never been formally revoked, but after years in hiding and under protection, Rushdie, currently living in New York City, had lately resumed normal engagements.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among world leaders who spoke for Rushdie, saying “for 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side.”

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