The writer Salman Rushdie, stabbed in the neck while giving a conference in New York | International
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The British writer and essayist of Indian origin Salman Rushdie, author of the satanic verses (1988) and sentenced to death by the Iranian Islamic regime in 1989 for blasphemy, He was attacked this Friday when he was going to give a conference on freedom in artistic creation in Chautauqua County, a town in western New York State. The first images of the event on social networks show Rushdie on the ground, being attended to by assistants and emergency services. The police have announced in a statement that the writer has apparently suffered a stab wound to the neck and abdomen and that he has been taken to hospital by helicopter.
Intervened for hours, the writer was in the late afternoon connected to a respirator and unable to speak. “The news is not good,” his agent, the almighty Andrew Wylie, said in an email. “Salman will probably lose an eye; the nerves in his arm were cut and his liver was damaged by the stab wounds.”
In an appearance before journalists in the middle of the afternoon, while the author was still in the operating room, local officials reported that the detainee is Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from the neighboring state of New Jersey, who bought a ticket for the conference like the rest of the 2,500 attendees, and whose motivations for attacking are currently unknown. The police chief did not want to specify his country of origin, nor link his action with the fatwa (Islamic edict) issued by the Ayatollahs’ regime in 1989.
Around ten o’clock this Friday morning, local time, a reporter from the Associated Press agency witnessed how a man burst onto the stage of the Chautauqua Institution and began “beating or stabbing” Rushdie, who was occupying the stage. . The writer has fallen to the ground and the man has been immediately immobilized and arrested. “Everything happened in seconds,” explained David Graves, an attendee at the conference, in statements collected by New York Times. Roger Warner and his wife, who were occupying the first row of seats, arranged in an amphitheater around the stage, saw a tall, thin man jump into the fray from the left side and start attacking Rushdie three or four times in the row. expensive. “He was covered in blood and blood was running all over the floor,” Warner said. “I only saw blood around his eyes and running down his cheek,” the newspaper reports. According to an employee of the cultural center, security is lax and no additional measures appear to have been taken. “It’s very open, it’s very accessible; a very relaxed atmosphere,” said an usher. “In my opinion, something like this was only a matter of time,” he added.
Rushdie himself did not seem to attach much importance to security measures, according to writer Ayad Akhtar, current president of PEN America. Akhtar has said that he has never seen Rushdie with bodyguards in recent years, whether at the theater, a restaurant or an event such as the one scheduled in Chautauqua. The head of PEN America, once chaired by Rushdie himself, stated that they never spoke of the threats received by “The Satanic Verses”, but that the writer seemed perfectly at ease in public.
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New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has highlighted Chautauqua’s accessibility, “a very quiet rural community” and an “ideal” place for notable figures like Rushdie to speak. The Democratic politician praised the work of the police officer who “saved the life [de Rushdie]” and that of the moderator of the event, who was also attacked and was slightly injured. Hochul condemned the violence and said it is important that people feel free to “speak and write the truth.”
Rushdie’s book the satanic verses It has been banned in Iran since it was published in 1988, as well as in other Muslim countries, as it is considered blasphemous. A year later, on February 14, 1989, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death. The Iranian theocratic regime also offered a reward of more than three million dollars to anyone who killed the writer, who was born in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1947 to a wealthy Muslim family, although the writer distanced himself from religion until he considered himself a militant atheist. Educated in the United Kingdom, he received the title of sir in 2007 – again unleashing the wrath of Iran, as well as Pakistan – and has lived in the US since 2000.
The Iranian government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment persisted. In 2012, a semi-official religious foundation raised the bounty on the writer’s head from $2.8 million to $3.3 million. Rushdie then downplayed that threat, saying there was “no evidence” that people were interested in the reward. That year, Rushdie published a memoir, joseph antonon the fatwa.
Just five years ago, in 2016, on the 27th anniversary of the conviction, the Fars news agency published a list of 40 media outlets that joined the prize, with a total of $300,000, of which Fars contributed $30,000. The increase in the endowment responded to the wishes of the hard line of the regime, subjected to internal pressure between hawks and doves and in a difficult balance that permeates all areas of public life, from the negotiations to reactivate the nuclear pact to politics Exterior.
The ailing reformist movement has struggled to overcome irrelevance since the handover from moderate Hassan Rohaní to power by ultra-conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisí, who won the elections in June 2021. The so-called Green Movement, the wave of social protests that swept through Iran in 2009 , has faded without apparent replacement, beyond isolated riots in different locations in the country due to the increase in the cost of living and against the government’s economic policy. A cry of rage, with periodic outbursts in recent years, stifled again and again by the regime.
The 75-year-old author achieved international fame with the novel children of midnight, published in 1980, which earned him the Booker Prize the following year, the most prestigious in the United Kingdom. The title of the work refers to the midnight of August 15, 1947, when the independence of India from the British was consummated, as well as the partition with Pakistan. The book sparked controversy in India for alleged derogatory comments towards Indira Gandhi, who was the country’s prime minister when it was published.
With an overflowing imagination, Rushdie, epigone of the great RK Narayan, is the most famous figure among the plethora of contemporary Indian writers who use English as a literary language (and who are legion, from his contemporaries such as the great Vikram Seth or Rohinton Mistry to the younger Anita Desai and Amit Chaudhuri, followed by the more recent generation of the successful Arundhati Roy and Arun Desai). His style has been compared to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes. He himself has recognized his important links with Latin American literature, but he also drinks from the rich Indian oral tradition, which has its roots in the great foundational epics. His mixture of magical realism and historical fiction makes his novels, more than a narrative to use, a worldview, cultural heritage of the vast cosmogony of Hinduism. His texts combine satire, fantasy and political allegory. In the eighties he also began as a columnist and essayist. Among his non-fiction work stands out the volume of essays The languages of truth: essays 2003-2020, with several references to the disease and its metaphors, along the lines of the American essayist Susan Sontag.
His latest book is titled Quixote, from 2020, a rereading of the work of Cervantes that the author adapts to the situation that the United States was experiencing at that time under the Government of Donald Trump. Regarding this work, Rushdie declared in an interview with EL PAÍS: “When the fourth centenary of the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare was celebrated I reread the Quixote and I saw how rogues arose in my head whom I named after the immortal characters of Cervantes. For me, this novel is a little what it was Children of Midnight: a kind of compendium of everything I want to be and say as an artist”.
Rushdie’s effervescent personality, the success of his books —and also the notoriety that the fatwa gave him— have made him one of the most famous figures in artistic circles on both sides of the Atlantic. His personal adventures and his hectic sentimental life —in 2007 he divorced his fourth wife, a well-known Indian model— have delighted the serious media, and the less serious ones, as a member of that literary aristocracy in which the British Martin Amis, another regular writer of the pink press, and his compatriots Julian Barnes or Christopher Hitchens. All of them, authors turned into characters.
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