Salman Rushdie stabbing attack: Suspect Hadi Matar charged with attempted murder

Man who stabbed author Salman Rushdie on Friday faces up to 25 years in prison (Image via Twitter @/Humanists_UK)
Man who stabbed author Salman Rushdie on Friday faces up to 25 years in prison (Image via Twitter @/Humanists_UK)

In a shocking turn of events on Friday, famous Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie was assaulted and stabbed multiple times by a man while he was preparing to deliver a lecture on freedom of expression at a western New York institute. Stabbed in the neck and stomach, Salman Rushdie, 75, was airlifted and taken to a hospital where he was put on a ventilator.

For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side.

In a press release, Chautauqua County District Attorney confirmed that the suspect, Hadi Matar, 24, was taken into custody yesterday. He has been charged with attempted second-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault, and is being held without bail. If convicted, he will face up to 25 years of imprisonment.

The DA's office said:

"We have been in touch with our counterparts in the State of New Jersey where the attacker is from to share information and assist them in helping us to better understand the planning and preparation which preceded the attack so that we and the different agencies involved can determine what, if any, additional charges should be asserted. We will try to be as transparent as we can without compromising the case."

The assailant from Fairview, New Jersey, was born in the U.S. to Lebanese immigrant parents. His social media activities have shown a clear interest in Iran and Shia extremism.

While the reason behind Hadi Matar's attack has not been disclosed by law enforcement officials, it is believed that it is connected to the Iranian Fatwa against the author of The Satanic Verses.

The murderous attack on Salman Rushdie by a U.S.-born Shia extremist is a reminder that fanatics are willing to kill in the name of God. The Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses was murdered. The book's Italian and Norwegian translators were separately attacked but survived.

Matar was taken to the New York State Police barracks in Jamestown post the attack on Salman Rushdie. He was later transferred to the Chautauqua County Jail. Media outlets were prohibited from attending Matar's first court appearance.

More on the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie

Following the fatwa against him, Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie spent almost nine years in hiding before deciding that he needed to live life normally in the U.S.

On Friday, August 12, the long persecuted author was scheduled to deliver a speech on exiled writers seeking asylum in America. As soon as he took the stage, however, a young man rushed to stab him multiple times.

Unhinged men wanting to police the world through violence. Salman Rushdie stabbed today. FBI attacked yesterday. I fear these examples of violence will only keep escalating with polarization, disinformation and extremism going mainstream.

The man, identified as Hadi Matar, left Salman Rushdie critically injured. He was airlifted and taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he underwent surgery. He is suffering from a damaged liver and could lose an eye due to severe nerve damage.

Salman Rushdie has been on the receiving end of death threats since the publication of his book The Satanic Verses. The book was labeled as blasphemous for its treatment of the Prophet Muhammed.

The then-Iranian President, Ayatollah Khomeini, released a fatwa in 1989 against the author. Recently, the bounty for Rushdie's life was allegedly increased to $3 million.

In 2016, forty media outlets in Iran raised money to hike the bounty on Salman Rushdie over his book The Satanic Verses. They raised $600,000, taking the fund available to reward Rushdie’s killer into millions of dollars. Rushdie had apologised for his book in 1990 itself

Hadi Matar's social media history shows his active interest in Khomeini and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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