Stabbed on Friday, the author “will probably lose an eye”. His attacker, Hadi Matar, is 24 years old. His motives are not yet known.
The author of satanic verseswhich romanticized part of the life of the Prophet Muhammad and earned him a fatwa (religious decree) from Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on February 14, 1989, reportedly regained consciousness after several hours of surgery, but he would be on life support and unable to speak.
The attacker’s name is Hadi Matar, is 24 years old and is believed to be from Fairview, New Jersey, directly opposite Manhattan along the Hudson River. His motives are not yet known. Investigators are said to have recovered a backpack and several electronic devices from the scene of the attack, which a warrant will allow them to examine.
Witnesses described a blistering attack, which occurred at 10:47 a.m., and a fierce struggle to neutralize the assailant as he continued to stab his victim. “It took five people to dismiss him,” says Linda Abrams, who was in the front row in the amphitheater of the foundation at the origin of Rushdie’s invitation. He was just mad, completely mad. So strong, and just so fast.” A uniformed police officer then reportedly managed to handcuff Hadi Matar as the bloody knife fell from his hands.
Immediately surrounded by spectators, Salman Rushdie was initially lying on the ground while waiting for help to arrive, while spectators commented: “his pulse is beating, his pulse is beating”.
New York State Police Commissioner Eugene Staniszewski told a press conference that a joint investigation had been opened with the FBI. Aged 41 when the fatwa enacted against him, his head put a price on several million dollars by the Iranian Shiite regime, the British writer of Indian origin, who then resided in London, had to go into forced hiding. This forced exile was to last three decades, until at age 71, he resolved to leave. “Oh, I have to live my life,” he retorted to those who urged him to be careful.
Since then, Salman Rushdie, author of fifteen books and novels, regularly intervened at literary and charity events near New York where he lived. And more often than not, without any apparent security.
Enthusiastic reactions in Iran
His attack provoked enthusiastic reactions among religious ultra-conservatives in Iran. A quote from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dating back several years, was quoted extensively online: the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the Iranian religious leader assured, is “a bullet that has been fired and will not stop until it will reach its target.
In Washington, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was careful not to openly incriminate Tehran, specifying however that such an “act of violence was revolting”, “praying for the rapid recovery” of the injured writer.
This is “one of the greatest defenders of freedom of expression, declared the moderator of the literary event, Ralph Henry Reese, aged 73 and slightly injured in the face during the attack. We admire him and are deeply worried about his life. The fact that this attack occurred in the United States is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments, individuals and organizations.”
Shaken, the director of the writers’ association PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, said she was “not aware of a comparable incident during a public attack on a literary author on American soil”. “Today’s attack on Salman Rushdie was also an attack on one of our most sacred values, the free expression of thought,” said New York State Governor Kathy Hochul. .
The Satanic Verses remain banned to this day in Bangladesh, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and India. Before Rushdie, the Japanese translator of Verses, Hitoshi Igarashi, had been stabbed to death on July 12, 1991 at the University of Tsukuba, the investigation pointing the finger at the Corps of the Guards of the Islamic Revolution (IRGC), the famous pasdarans. His Italian counterpart, Ettore Capriolo, had narrowly escaped the same fate two weeks earlier, on July 3, 1991 in Milan. Norwegian publisher William Nygaard was shot three times at his home in Oslo on October 11, 1993, by two individuals later identified as a Lebanese national and an Iranian diplomat.