Attempted murder, assault charges for accused Rushdie attacker
(NewsNation) — The man who allegedly stabbed Salman Rushdie in the neck and abdomen has been charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault.
Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was processed and transported to Chautauqua County Jail on Friday. Deadline reports he was remanded without bail, and that charges could be upgraded if Rushdie’s condition gets worse.
Authorities said Matar was born in the United States to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun, a border village in southern Lebanon, the mayor of the village, Ali Tehfe, told The Associated Press.
The stabbing happened at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York, where Rushdie was set to give a lecture.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storming the stage and begin attacking Rushdie as he was being introduced. The author was then taken or fell to the floor.
According to New York State Police, Rushdie was transported by helicopter to the hospital. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday evening, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and an eye he was likely to lose.
Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. Reese suffered a facial injury and was treated and released from a hospital, police said. He and Rushdie had planned to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.
Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.
Khomeini died the same year he issued the fatwa, which remains in effect. Iran’s current supreme leader, Khamenei, never issued a fatwa of his own withdrawing the edict.
Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward. That year, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.
The Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, is known for its summertime lecture series. Rushdie has spoken there before.
“Banfield” spoke Friday with Mona Kolko, an eyewitness to the incident.
“People were horrified. It went from the noise of applause, 2,000 people clapping to people shouting, people hollering, people crying. Stunned. Shocked. What is going on here? What happened here? He is hurt. Something terrible is going on, and we are witnessing this horrible moment,” Kolko said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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