Author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed roughly 10 times Friday as he prepared to give a lecture in New York, has been taken off a ventilator and is able to talk.
Rushdie has faced regular death threats since the publication of his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” which some Muslims found to be sacrilegious. The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini described the book as an insult to Islam and issued a religious decree calling for Rushdie’s death.
Rushdie, 75, remains hospitalized with serious injuries. However, the “road to recovery has begun,” Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie wrote in a text to the New York Times. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”
“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remains intact,” Rushdie’s son, Zafar Rushdie, said in a statement. “We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defense and administered first aid, along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.”
The Associated Press reports that after the attack, an Iranian newspaper featured a picture of Rushdie on a stretcher with the headline “Satan on the path to hell.”
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault with a weapon. A public defender entered the plea of not guilty on behalf of Matar, who will appear in court on Friday.
Prosecutors argued yesterday that the attack on Rushdie was premeditated and targeted, reports the New York Times. Matar traveled by bus to the New York event and purchased a pass that allowed him to attend Rushdie’s talk, according to prosecutors.
President Biden released a statement on Saturday, offering support towards Rushdie and stating that “today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”
There is still no official word on the motive for the attack.