Salman Rushdie, a 75-year-old Indian-British writer, is in critical condition after being assassinated in New York state on August 12, local time. The man who stabbed him has been charged with attempted murder.
The latest news is that one day after the assassination, Rushdie was off the ventilator and was able to speak again.
The suspect, Hadi Matar, was remanded without bail after pleading not guilty, prosecutors in Chautauqua County, N.Y., said.
Mattar is accused of running on stage at an event at a local education center and attacking Rushdie and an interviewer.
Rushdie’s manager, Andrew Wylie, said after the attack that Rushdie had a nerve in his arm severed, his liver damaged and he could lose an eye.
Rushdie, 75, has faced death threats for years after his novel “The Satanic Verses” was deemed blasphemous by some Muslims.
Police arrested Mattar in Fairyo, New Jersey, shortly after the Xuetoko attack.
The suspect wore a face shield and prison uniform when he appeared in court Saturday afternoon before pleading not guilty.
“This will be a long-lasting legal process, and this is only the very early stages,” District Attorney Jason Schmidt said in a statement.
Rushdie received substantial support and the attack was denounced as a violation of free speech.
U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement late Saturday that he was “shocked and saddened” by the “vicious attack.”
Biden said Rushdie has refused to be “intimidated or suppressed” throughout his career, advocating for “fundamental, universal ideals.”
stabbed 10 times
Authorities said the writer was stabbed at least 10 times in the face, neck and abdomen and damaged his liver.
Rushdie’s interviewer, Henry Reese, suffered minor head injuries. Rees is the co-founder of a nonprofit that provides shelter for persecuted writers in exile.
Police, who have not yet identified a motive, said on Friday they wanted to examine a backpack and electronic devices found at the center.
NBC reported that a review of Matar’s social media accounts showed he was sympathetic to the IRGC’s cause.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is Iran’s main military and political force, however, no links have been established.
A Lebanese official told The Associated Press that Mattar was born in the United States to parents who immigrated from Lebanon.
Two security officials were on duty at the center when the attack took place, and one of them made the arrest.
But some tourists questioned why the security measures for a man with a bounty of more than $3 million weren’t stricter.
Some viewers said the venue lacked basic security measures, such as luggage screening and metal detectors.
Like others planning to attend the writer’s lecture, Matar has already received a pass to the school, the group’s president said.
Who is Rushdie?
Indian-born novelist Rushdie shot to fame in 1981 with Midnight’s Children, which sold more than a million copies in the UK alone. Rushdie has faced numerous death threats during his 50-year writing career, but he is one of the most famous British writers of all time, winning the Booker Prize in 1981.
His fourth book, The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, forced him to go into hiding for nearly 10 years.
The surreal, postmodern novel has sparked outrage among some Muslims, who say its content is blasphemous, and has been banned in some countries.
A year after the book’s release, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, offered a $3 million reward for Rushdie’s killing. A quasi-official Iranian religious foundation followed up with an additional $500,000 bounty in 2012.
The Iranian government has had no response to Rushdie’s assassination. Iranian media reported that he was an apostate.
Rushdie, a British-American author, has become an outspoken advocate for free speech, defending his work on several occasions. His next work is scheduled to be completed in 2023.