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White House condemns 'reprehensible' attack on Salman Rushdie

News Agencies | Updated on: 13 August 2022, 15:28 IST

The White House on Saturday termed the attack on Salman Rushdie as "appalling" and said that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Administration is praying for a speedy recovery of the renowned author.

In a statement, National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan said, "Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling. All of us in the Biden-Harris administration are praying for his speedy recovery."

"We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing," NSA Sullivan said.

Taking to Twitter, Sullivan had posted: "The attack on Salman Rushdie is appalling. We're all praying for his speedy recovery. And we're thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping him so swiftly."

Rushdie, known for his free expression received death threats from Iran due to his book 'The Satanic Verses', which was released in 1988. After 30 years of a fatwa, Rushdie was attacked on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York state. He was "stabbed" at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen.

The India-born British author is currently on a ventilator and is feared to lose one of his eyes after he underwent surgery following an attack at a literary event in New York, according to an update on his condition shortly before 7 pm on Friday from his agent Andrew Wylie.

"The news is not good," Wylie said adding that "Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged."

Earlier, New York State Police identified a suspect from Fairview, New Jersey but said the motive behind the attack remains unknown.

"The suspect has been identified as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey. Earlier today, approx. at 10:47 am, the speaker Rushdie,75 and Henry Reese,73 had just arrived at the stage of the institution and shortly thereafter the suspect jumped out of the stage and attacked at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen," State Police Troop Commander Major Eugene J. Staniszewski said in a news conference.

The police further said that several members of the institution and the audience quickly responded to the incident and took the suspect to the ground.

The New York State Police said in a statement that a male suspect ran up onto the stage prior to a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua and attacked Rushdie. It said the author suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. A suspect has been taken into custody.

The interviewer with Rushdie was also attacked during the incident and he suffered a minor head injury, the police said.

The act of violence has evoked widespread condemnation from people across the world. Literary figures, public officials as well as common people took to Twitter to express anger over the shocking incident.

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese also condemned the shocking incident and called it an assault on global freedom of expression.

"Terrible news of the sickening and cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie in New York. This senseless violence against a celebrated author is also an assault on global freedom of expression and deserves unequivocal condemnation. May he have a full recovery," Albanese tweeted.

The 75-year-old author, who caught the limelight for his novel 'Midnight's Children' in 1981, had received a fatwa for his 1988 book. The Satanic Verses book led to a fatwa, a religious decree, by the then Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The threat forced him into hiding for several years.


Also Read: Salman Rushdie on ventilator, likely lose an eye after attack


First published: 13 August 2022, 15:28 IST