Author Salman Rushdie stabbed before speech, rushed to hospital
Salman Rushdie, pictured during a book signing at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, Fla., in 2008, was stabbed on Friday before a speech in New York and rushed to a hospital. File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 12 (UPI) — The man who allegedly stabbed international novelist Salman Rushdie during an event in western New York on Friday has been identified by police as Hadi Matar.

Matar, 24, allegedly stabbed Rushdie, 75, around 10:47 a.m. on Friday before his scheduled lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, New York State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said in a statement.

The author, who has a bounty on his head from Iranian religious leaders dating to the 1980s, was being introduced onstage when Matar rushed to the stage to stab and punch him.

Rushdie suffered a stab wound to the neck and chest and was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital, police said. Another speaker at the event, 73-year-old Ralph Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury.

Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, told the New York Daily News that he was undergoing surgery.

Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairview, N.J., was arrested by a state trooper at the scene after he was detained by people in the audience, police said. His motivation for the attack has not been revealed.

“Today’s attack on Salman Rushdie was also an attack on some of our most sacred values — the free expression of thought,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

“We condemn all violence. We stand up to attacks on our fundamental rights. And we remain firm in our commitment to freedom to speak and to write truth.”

Located in southwest New York state, the Chautauqua Institution annually holds an array of programs including fine and performing arts, lectures, worship services and religious programs each summer.

Rushdie had spent years in hiding and under police protection from Iranian officials.

Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” was banned in Iran in 1988 and considered sacrilegious by some Muslims. In 1989, the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, offering $3 million for Rushdie’s death.

Iranian state-controlled PressTV said Friday that the book was “blasphemous” and “anti-Islam.”

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