MAYVILLE, NY– Salman Rushdie is “on the road to recovery,” his agent confirmed Sunday, two days after the author of “The Satanic Verses” was seriously stabbed at a lecture in upstate New York.
The announcement followed news that the lauded author was removed from a ventilator on Saturday and was able to speak and joke. Literary agent Andrew Wylie warned that Rushdie’s “condition is going in the right direction” but that his recovery would be a long process. Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, Wylie had previously said, and would likely lose the injured eye.
“Despite the severity of his life-changing injuries, he is as feisty as ever & defiant sense of humor remains intact,” Rushdie’s son Zafar Rushdie said in a Sunday statement, stressing the author remained in critical condition. as well as police, doctors, and “the outpouring of love and support from around the world”.
Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, on Saturday pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault in what a prosecutor described as a “directed, unprovoked, preplanned attack” on the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit educational and retreat center.
The attack sparked shock and outrage around the world, along with praise for the man who has endured death threats and a $3 million bounty for “The Satanic Verses” for more than three decades. Rushdie even spent nine years in hiding under a British government protection scheme.
Authors, activists and government officials have commended Rushdie’s bravery and longstanding commitment to free speech in the face of such intimidation. Writer and longtime friend Ian McEwan called Rushdie “an inspirational advocate for persecuted writers and journalists,” and actor and author Kal Penn called him a role model “for a whole generation of artists, especially for many of us in the South Asian diaspora.”
“Salman Rushdie — with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense of history, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced — represents essential, universal ideals,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday . “Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear.”
Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family and has lived in the UK and US, is known for his surreal and satirical prose, beginning with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel Midnight’s Children, in which he explores India sharply criticized the conditions at the time – Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Imbued with magical realism, the 1988 novel The Satanic Verses drew the ire of some Muslims, who viewed elements of the novel as blasphemy.
They believed Rushdie had insulted the Prophet Muhammad by naming a character Mahound, a medieval corruption of “Muhammad”. The character was a prophet in a town called Jahilia, which in Arabic refers to the time before the advent of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. Another sequence has prostitutes sharing names with some of Muhammad’s nine wives. The novel also implies that Muhammad, not Allah, may have been the true author of the Qur’an.
The book had already been banned and burned in India, Pakistan and elsewhere by the time Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death. Khomeini died that same year, but the fatwa remains in effect – although Iran had not focused on Rushdie in recent years.
Iran’s state-run newspaper, Iran Daily, praised Sunday’s attack as “the implementation of a divine decree.” Another hardline newspaper, Kayhan, called it “divine vengeance” that would partially appease Muslims’ wrath.
Investigators were trying to determine if the suspect, who was born almost a decade after the novel was published, acted alone. A prosecutor alluded to the existing fatwa as a possible motive for arguing against bail.
“His resources don’t matter to me. We understand that the agenda that was carried out yesterday was embraced and sanctioned by larger groups and organizations well beyond Chautauqua County’s jurisdictional boundaries,” said District Attorney Jason Schmidt.
Schmidt said Matar was given an advance pass to the event where the author spoke and arrived a day early with a fake ID. The judge ordered Matar held without bail.
Public defender Nathaniel Barone complained that it took authorities too long to bring Matar before a judge while leaving him “hooked to a bank at the state police barracks,” stressing that Matar has the right to be presumed innocent have.
Barone said after the hearing that Matar has been open in communication with him and that he will spend the coming weeks learning more about his client, including whether he has any mental health or addiction problems.
Matar was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, the village’s mayor, Ali Tehfe, told The Associated Press. Flags of the Iran-backed Shia militant group Hezbollah, as well as portraits of Hezbollah and Iranian leaders, were displayed across Yaroun before journalists visiting on Saturday were told to leave the country.
Hezbollah spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment.
In Tehran, some Iranians interviewed by AP praised the attack on an author they believe sullied the Islamic faith, while others feared it would further isolate their country.
Event host Henry Reese, 73, suffered a facial injury and was discharged from a hospital, police said. He and Rushdie had planned to talk about the United States as a haven for exiled artists.
A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s presentation, and police said the trooper made the arrest. But afterwards, some long-time visitors to the idyllic holiday colony questioned why tighter security wasn’t in place, given the history of threats against Rushdie.
On Friday, an AP reporter saw the attacker stab or punch Rushdie about 10 or 15 times.
News of the stabbing has prompted renewed interest in The Satanic Verses, which topped the bestseller lists after the fatwa was published in 1989. As of Sunday morning, the novel was ranked 11th on Amazon.com’s list.
One of Rushdie’s ex-wives, author and TV presenter Padma Lakshmi, tweeted Sunday that she was “relieved” by Rushdie’s prognosis.
“Worried and wordless, can finally breathe easy,” she wrote. “Now I hope for a quick recovery.”
Italy reported from New York. Associated Press Journalist Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut; Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
https://6abc.com/salman-rushdie-recovering-zafar-hadi-matar/12124758/ Salman Rushdie ‘on the road to recovery,’ agent says