Author Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator after being stabbed Friday as he took the stage to give a lecture at New York's Chautauqua Institution. The attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, was taken into custody.
Police said in a statement that Rushdie "suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital." Andrew Wylie, Rushdie's agent, provided additional detail, explaining that Rushdie was placed on a ventilator and "will likely to lose one eye." Wylie added that "the nerves in [Rushdie's] arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged."
Authorities said Matar's motive was unclear, but Rushdie has been the target of Islamist death threats for decades following the publication of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. Writing for The Critic, Ben Sixsmith detailed the history of violent attacks against Rushdie and those associated with him. "Let's not forget that Rushdie's Japanese translator was murdered. The offices of a New York newspaper which defended him were firebombed. A Turkish hotel in which one of his sympathisers was participating in a literary conference was burned down, killing 37 people. That sort of anger doesn't just evaporate," he wrote.
Sixsmith also noted that, in a now-deleted tweet, Pakistani journalist Ali Waqar had described Rushdie's assailant as a "freedom fighter" and accused Rushdie of having "hurt a billion-plus Muslims." Waqar's account is still active.