Author Salman Rushdie was attacked on stage moments before speaking at an event in New York.
The attacker was immediately restrained, New York State Police stated.
The writer was placed on a ventilator and "will likely lose one eye," according to Rushdie's agent.
Salman Rushdie, the British author known for his acclaimed but controversial novel "The Satanic Verses," was attacked moments before giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, on Friday.
Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen, New York State Police commander Eugene Staniszewski said in a press conference hours after the attack.
The 75-year-old author, who endured years of death threats after Iranian cleric Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his assassination, was transported by helicopter to a hospital. He underwent surgery and was placed on a ventilator.
"The news is not good," his agent Andrew Wylie told The New York Times on Friday evening. "Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged."
The suspect is in custody and was identified as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, Staniszewski said.
—Dan Linden (@DanLinden) August 12, 2022
"What we experienced at Chautauqua today is an incident unlike anything in our nearly 150-year history," Michael Hill, president of the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education center, said at the press conference.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Friday afternoon that a police officer "stood up and saved his life."
"Our thoughts are with Salman & his loved ones following this horrific event," Hochul said on Twitter.
Henry Reese, who was introducing Rushdi at the institution, was also injured; Reese was transported to a local hospital with a minor head injury and has since been released, NY State Police said.
Staniszewski said the NY State Police is working with the FBI and the Chautauqua County Sheriff's County Office in its investigation. The commander did not have details on Matar's criminal background or ethnicity.
Rabbi Charles Savenor, executive director of Civic Spirit, witnessed the attack.
"As he sat down someone ran onto the stage and began to beat and pound Mr. Rushdie," Savenor told Insider. "I don't know if the guy had a knife."
"At first we thought 'this can't be happening,'" Savenor said.
Within 3 minutes, the amphitheater of about 1,000 was evacuated, Savenor said.
"It happened very quickly. It was a man who ran very fast," he continued. "All I really saw was the guy's back, he jumped onto the stage and began to beat him. I think he fell off the chair. The guy was pounding him on the chair. It was really jarring."
Savenor said security was on the stage "rather quickly" and soon after the police showed up.
"I think people were in shock," Savenor said. "I think people were shocked, surprised, and dismayed."
"At first nobody knew what to do with it," Savenor said. "We were excited to hear him talk about how to support political writers."
Video posted to social media of the event by Savenor shows a number of people rushing to the stage to attend to what appears to be Rushdie on the ground.
—Charles Savenor (@CharlieSavenor) August 12, 2022
Photos from the scene posted to Twitter by another user appear to show Rushdie being loaded into an ambulance and a man in police custody.
Another Twitter user posted video of Rushdie apparently being loaded onto a Medevac helicopter.
Rushdi was set to speak on the theme of "More than Shelter," according to the Institution's website.
He was joined by Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, "for a discussion of the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression."
Savenor said he was supposed to discuss "political writers" and "also how to support them."
He added that he was hoping to ask Rushdie "about how do we take uncomfortable or divisive topics and create productive, construction conversations," he told Insider.
"Clearly we didn't get to that place," Savenor said. "That pounding on the stage reverberated beyond the stage to the people in the auditorium, and now the whole world is talking about this. It's a really sad state of affairs. I was hoping that the conversation today would give us insight into what we could become as a society but rather it exposed the worst aspects of divisiveness."
It's unclear what motivated the attack on Friday.
Years of death threats against Rushdie
Rushdie has faced numerous death threats since publishing his fourth novel "The Satanic Verses" in 1988.
In 1989, Iranian cleric Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie's assassination.
Khomeini claimed the book was "against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran."
Rushdie went into hiding for a decade, hunkering down in London's billionaire row for many years, Insider previously reported. The home was fitted with triple-glazed, bulletproof glass, a network of security cameras, enhanced outer walls, and room for six live-in police officers.
Iran has since distanced itself from Khomeini's order. In 1999 Rushdie came out of hiding after Iran's foreign ministry assured Britain they wouldn't carry out the threats.
But, in 2012, an Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for killing Rushdie to $3.3 million.
And current Iranian ruler Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei tweeted about the order in 2019 saying the assassination order was "irrevocable."
Read the original article on Insider