British-American novelist Salman Rushdie is on the road to recovery after suffering a near-fatal stabbing at a lecture in New York last week.
Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s agent, said on Sunday that while the author’s were severe, “his condition is headed in the right direction.”
Rushdie, 75, had sustained stab wounds to the neck, stomach, eye, chest, and thigh. He remains in critical condition at the hospital, but he has already been removed from a ventilator.
In a separate statement, Rushdie's son, Zafar Rushdie, said his father is still in high spirits, despite his injuries.
"Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact," the younger Rushdie said.
Rushdie’s suspected attacker, Hadi Matar, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault during his brief appearance at court. He was denied bail.
Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on Friday to give a lecture about the importance of the United State’s offer of asylum to exiled writers. During Rushdie’s introduction, a man dressed in black suddenly rushed the stage and attacked the author.
As members of the audience ran to stop the attacker, some tried to give aid to Rushdie, who had suffered several stab wounds and was bleeding on the ground. The author was quickly rushed to a nearby hospital via helicopter.
A state police officer present at the event apprehended Rushdie’s attacker. Authorities later identified the man as 24-year-old Hadi Matar, a resident of New Jersey.
Observers believe the stabbing incident was related to the fatwa (religious edict) that was issued against Rushdie by the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. Khomeini called for the author’s death following the publication of his book, The Satanic Verses, which allegedly included elements that insulted the prophet Muhammad.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attack on Rushdie, describing the incident as “despicable”. He said state institutions in Iran had incited violence against the author for years, with state-affiliated media even gloating about the attempt on Rushdie’s life.
Blinken reaffirmed the US and its partners’ commitment to standing up against such threats, using “every appropriate tool at our disposal.”
Meanwhile, US Pres. Joe Biden praised Rushdie for refusing to be intimidated or silenced. He also recognised the author for standing for the ideals of truth, courage, and resilience.
“These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression,” Biden said.