Salman Rushdie Was Stabbed at an Event in New York. Here’s What We Know.

“We can think of no comparable incident of a public attack on a literary writer on American soil.”

Author Salman Rushdie speaks as he presents his book ''Quichotte'' at the Volkstheater in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2019. Herbert Neubauer/APA Picturedesk via ZUMA

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Celebrated author Salman Rushdie was attacked Friday morning as he prepared to give remarks at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York. He suffered a wound to the neck and was airlifted to a local hospital, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. 

Rushdie is a prolific and acclaimed author, having written 14 novels as well as nonfiction works. His most famous novel, The Satanic Verses, was banned in Iran as blasphemous, and its government issued a religious edict calling for Rushdie to be killed. It forced him into hiding for several years. Iran backed away from the order in 1998. 

The free speech and literary freedom nonprofit PEN America, which Rushdie once led, said it is “reeling from shock and horror,” according to a statement from CEO Suzanne Nossel. “We can think of no comparable incident of a public attack on a literary writer on American soil. Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning, Salman had emailed me to help with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge from the grave perils they face. Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered.”

Rushdie was in New York as part of an event on “the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the Chautauqua Institute’s website. His interviewer sustained a mild head injury. The assailant was taken into custody; his identity has not been released.

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