Author Salman Rushdie attacked at New York conference

CHAUTAUQUA, NY (AP) — Salman Rushdie, the author whose writings led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked on Friday as he prepared to give a lecture in western New York.

An Associated Press reporter saw a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua facility and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was introduced. The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the ground, and the man was restrained.

Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who lifted his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest.

His condition was not immediately known.

Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were later evacuated.

Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

A bounty of over $3 million was also offered to anyone who kills Rushdie.

The Iranian government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment persists. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” people were interested in the award.

That year Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton”, on the fatwa. The title comes from the alias Rushdie had used while in hiding.

Rushdie rose to prominence with his 1981 Booker Prize-winning novel “Midnight’s Children,” but his name became known worldwide after “The Satanic Verses.”

The Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, is known for its summer lecture series. Rushdie has already talked about it.


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