Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator and is starting to recover

Author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed about 10 times Friday, has been removed from a ventilator and is on the mend, his agent said Sunday.

“The road to recovery has begun,” Officer Andrew Wylie said in a text message. “It will be long; the injuries are serious, but his condition is improving.”

Mr Rushdie, who had lived under Iran’s ban for decades, was attacked onstage minutes before he was due to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man, was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault with a weapon.

In court on Saturday, prosecutors said the attack on the author was premeditated and targeted. Mr Matar traveled by bus to the intellectual retreat and bought a pass that would allow him to attend Mr Rushdie’s speech Friday morning, prosecutors said.

Nathaniel Barone, a public defender, pleaded innocent on his behalf. mr. Matar was held without bail, and his next court appearance is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m

Mr. Rushdie had been put on a ventilator the night he was attacked, after hours of surgery at a hospital in Erie, Pa. Then Mr. Wylie said that Mr. Rushdie might lose an eye, his liver was damaged and the nerves in his arm were severed.

On Sunday, the son of Mr. Rushdie, Zafar Rushdie, that his father was in critical condition and receiving extensive treatment. He said the author could speak a few words.

“While his life-changing injuries are serious, his usual snappy and defiant sense of humor remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie said in a statement. “We are so grateful to all the onlookers who bravely jumped to his defense and provided first aid, along with the police and doctors who looked after him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.”

The attack took place in a center dedicated to learning and reflection. A video on TikTok that was subsequently removed showed the chaotic scene just after the attacker jumped onto the stage in the normally quiet setting. Mr Rushdie, who lived relatively openly after years of semi-clandestine existence, had just sat down to give a lecture when a man attacked him.

A crowd of people immediately rushed to the place where the author lay on the podium to offer help. Stunned spectators could be seen throughout the amphitheater. While some screamed, others got up and walked slowly to the stage. People began to gather in the aisles. Someone could be heard shouting “Oh my God” repeatedly.

Security at the Chautauqua Institution is minimal. In the main amphitheater, which regularly hosts popular music acts and celebrity speakers, and where Mr. Rushdie, there are no bag checks or metal detectors.

Little is known about Mr Matar, the man accused of the attack. A house listed as his residence in Fairview, NJ, had a car in the driveway, but the curtains were drawn and no one opened the door on Sunday.

Many of Mr Matar’s neighbors said they did not know him or his family, although some residents, when they saw a photo of him, said they recognized him as someone who walked around the neighborhood with head bowed and never made eye contact.

In Lebanon, the mayor of Yaroun, a village on the southern border with Israel, said Mr Matar’s father lives there and authorities had tried to reach him without success. The father lives in a stone house in the center of the village and takes care of herds of goats and sheep, said the mayor, Ali Tehfe.

“He refuses to see anyone or even open the door for us,” Mr Tehfe said in a telephone interview, referring to Mr Matar’s father.

Rushdie had been under threat of an assassination attempt since 1989, about six months after the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. The book fictionalized parts of the prophet Muhammad’s life with images that offended some Muslims who believed the novel was blasphemous. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran after the 1979 revolution, issued an edict known as a fatwa on February 14, 1989. It ordered Muslims to kill Mr Rushdie.

Hwaida Saadcontributed reporting from Beirut, and Olivia Bensimon from Fairview, NJ

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