CHAUTAUQUA, NY (AP) — Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked Friday as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institute and begin to punch or stab Rushdie while being introduced. The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the ground, and the man was stopped.
Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people who held up 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 subsequently evacuated.
Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988 because many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa or edict demanding the death of Rushdie.
There is also a bounty of more than $3 million on offer for anyone who kills Rushdie.
The Iranian government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased Rushdie’s bounty from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” that people were interested in the reward.
That year, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym 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 around the world after ‘The Satanic Verses’.
About 85 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, the Chautauqua Institute is known for its summer lectures. Rushdie has spoken there before.