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Writer Salman Rushdie stabbed in neck during conference in New York (+ video)

Writer Salman Rushdie stabbed in neck during conference in New York (+ video)

Officials said the attacker is in police custody.

Courtesy | He was given medical treatment and later airlifted to hospital.

British author Salman Rushdie was attacked on Friday during a conference in Chautauqua, a town in western New York state.

The author of works like ‘The Satanic Verses’ was about to intervene in a public event when a man attacked him.

A British-Indian author who has faced death threats for his writings for decades was stabbed in the neck and then airlifted to a hospital, according to first reports from New York police. Officials said his condition is critical.

Author Karl Leven claimed on Twitter that he witnessed the attack, describing Rushdie as “stabbed several times before being subdued by a security guard”.

The police confirmed that the suspect is in police custody.

“We are deeply disturbed by the news that Salman Rushdie, former president of PEN America, was assaulted today shortly before he was to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in New York. We condemn this attack and wish him a speedy recovery,” PEN International, a writers’ association that defends freedom of expression and the press, said on Twitter.

Threatened for more than 30 years

Rushdie, 75, was the subject of a ‘fatwa’ (religious decree) in Iran that sentenced him to death for blasphemy and was forced to go into hiding for years after the publication of his book ‘The Satanic Verses’ in 1988.

The work is a novel in which fiction is combined with philosophical reflection and a sense of humor.

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The work drew the ire of Shia Muslims, who considered it an insult to the Koran, Muhammad and the Islamic faith, and was banned in India, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Rushdie, who has lived under the protection of bodyguards for decades and has lived in New York City for about 20 years, was scheduled to speak today at the Chautauqua Institute, a cultural center in western New York.

The Iranian government eventually backed away from Khomeini’s ‘fatwa’, but in 2012 a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised Rushdie’s reward from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

In photos and videos posted on social media, a person identified as Rushdie can be seen on the floor and attending the stage.

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