Writer Salman Rushdie, 75, attacked last night while speaking at a conference in Chautauqua, New York, remains hospitalized in a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania. Rushdie, taken by helicopter to the hospital, was operated on urgently for several hours. He is currently attached to a fan and unable to speak.
According to his agent, Andrew Wyliethe Anglo-Indian writer, struck in 1989 by a fatwa by the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini for the novel The satanic verses judged insulting to the prophet Muhammad, he was wounded in the abdomen, neck and liver: “Salman will probably lose an eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
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Major Eugene J. Staniszewski of the New York State Police identified the suspect in the attack as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey who was arrested at the scene. Police believe Matar was “working alone”, but news could emerge on this point after the search of his home last night by FBI agents.
As for the motive, according to the US media, a preliminary examination of its social channels showed its sympathy for “Shiite extremism” and the causes of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Although no direct links have emerged between the latter and the 24-year-old for the time being, investigators have found images of the Iranian commander Qassem Solemani – killed in a US raid in Baghdad in 2020 – in a messaging app on Matar’s cellphone.
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In the absence for now of official reactions from the Iranian authorities, the semi-official agency in Tehran, Fars, publishes an editorial on the wounding of Salman Rushdie, hoping that he will “die”. “Even if so far there is no news about his death – we read in the comment – we hope that he will die and with the death of this satanic author the wounded heart of Muslims can heal after all these years”.
Not only. Iran’s leading ultra-conservative newspaper, Kayhantoday he even congratulated Hadi Matar: “Congratulations to this brave and duty conscious man who attacked the apostate and vicious Salman Rushdie”, writes the newspaper, whose editor is appointed by the Iranian supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “Let’s kiss the hand of him who with a knife tore the neck of God’s enemy”.
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The Iranian authorities have so far not officially commented on the attempted murder. Following the official line, all the Iranian media have branded Rushdie as an “apostate”, with the exception of the reformist Etemad. The state newspaper Iran wrote that “the devil’s neck” was “hit by a razor”. “I will not shed tears for a writer who attacks Muslims and Islam with infinite hatred and contempt”, Mohammad Marandi, adviser to the negotiating team on the Iranian nuclear file, finally said in a tweet, “Rushdie is a pawn of the empire that poses as a postcolonial novelist “.