Salman Rushdie, the novelist whose writing has attracted death threats during his five-decade career, was attacked Friday during an event in upstate New York, according to the Associated Press, whose reporter witnessed the incident. The outlet reports an assailant either stabbed or punched Rushdie while he was onstage at the Chautauqua Institution, a non-profit educational center in the town near Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania border. The man was restrained and taken into custody.
Photographs of the scene show Rushdie on the floor receiving medical care, and one event attendee tweeted that the author was stabbed. The event was advertised as a question and answer session between Rushdie and Henry Reese, the co-founder and co-president of City of Asylum, a Pittsburgh-based organization that supports writers who have been exiled by the threat of persecution. The novelist recently announced a new book, Victory City, which is due out next February.
Rushdie became a target for death threats after his 1988 book The Satanic Verses was derided as blasphemous for its depiction of Islam. Iran’s late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the writer and the novel is still banned in the country.
Shortly after news of the attack broke on Friday, Suzanne Nossel, C.E.O. of PEN America, where Rushdie previously served as president, issued a statement condemning the attack:
This is a developing story.