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The author – whose writing led to death threats following a fatwa from the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – was attacked by an assailant just before he was due to start speaking. The incident took place at the Chautauqua Institution to the west of the US state, near the Canadian border.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage and begin attacking Sir Salman as he was being introduced.
He was taken or fell to the floor, and the man restrained by security.
The Midnight’s Children writer was later taken by air ambulance to a nearby hospital, and the suspected attacker was arrested.
New York State Police confirmed that the male assailant had run on stage before attacking Sir Salman and an interviewer at around 11am local time (4pm BST).
In a statement, the force said: “Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. […] The interviewer suffered a minor head injury.
“A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed in a briefing that Sir Salman was alive following the stabbing and was “getting the care he needs at a local hospital”.
She described incident as “heartbreaking”, adding: “Here’s an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power, someone who’s been out there unafraid despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life”.
Governor Hochul said that details of the perpetrator would be released in due course.
One eye-witness wrote on Twitter that they were “still in shock. Unsure of his condition. We are being evacuated.”
Footage from the auditorium also shows members of the audience jumping on stage to come to the author’s aid.
Rita Landman, an endocrinologist who was in the audience, was one of those to offer assistance. She told the New York Times Sir Salman had multiple stab wounds including one to the right side of his neck, but did not require CPR.
Sir Salman was forced into hiding after the publication of his 1988 book The Satanic Verses, for which many Muslims accused him of blasphemy.
Since the fatwa, the author has faced repeated calls for his murder and an assassination attempt – a plot to use a bomb in London in 1989, when the bomb exploded early, killing the assailant.
Sir Salman has also faced calls for his death from Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda.
In a statement published shortly after news of the attack in New York broke, PEN, a writers’ association of which Sir Salman was the American president for a time, said it was “deeply concerned” by the incident.
It added: “We condemn the attack and wish him a fast recovery.”
Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee said it was “a stark reminder that the Ayatollah of Iran issued a fatwa to kill him in 1989 that has never been revoked”.
The Chautauqua Institution sits on the edge of the Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown, to the south-west of Buffalo.
More to follow…