Salman Rushdie ‘loses sight in one eye and use of hand’

Salman Rushdie has lost the use of an eye and cannot move a hand as a result of a stab attack he sustained during a speaking engagement in New York state in August, according to the author’s agent Andrew Wylie.

Rushdie, 75, who has been threatened with death from Iran for decades, suffered multiple stab wounds to the neck, chest and torso and was airlifted by helicopter for emergency surgery after the incident.

“[His wounds] were profound, but he is [also] lost sight of one eye,” Wylie told the Spanish newspaper El País

. “One hand is incapacitated because the nerves in his arm have been severed. And he still has about 15 wounds in his chest and torso.”

Wylie declined to disclose Rushdie’s whereabouts, but added: “He remains . . . that is the most important.”

Rushdie’s 1988 book The Satanic Verses caused controversy over how it portrayed the prophet Muhammad, with some Muslims saying it was blasphemous. The book was banned in Iran, and in 1989 the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or legal ruling, calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie.

After the death threat, Rushdie went into hiding. He lived under armed guard and assumed the alias Joseph Anton.

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Winner of the Booker Prize for the past two decades Midnight kids by 1981 had gradually returned to a more normal life. The attack took place while he was being interviewed on stage at the Chautauqua Institute, about a 90-minute drive southwest of Buffalo in western New York state. Rushdie was taken to a hospital in Pennsylvania and briefly put on a ventilator.

Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested shortly afterwards and charged with attempted murder and assault. Matar, who is still in custody, pleads innocent.

From prison, Matar said that Khomeini had been a “great person” and that Rushdie was someone who “attacked Islam”, in an interview with the New York Post. Tehran has denied involvement in the incident. During the interview, Matar said he had only read a few pages of Rushdie’s writings.

Wylie compared the attack to the 1980 murder of John Lennon in Central Park for its arbitrariness and said he and Rushdie had discussed the risk of an ambush in a public setting after the fatwa.

“[You] can’t protect against that because it’s totally unexpected and illogical,” Wylie said.

He added that the world was “going through a very difficult period. I think nationalism is on the rise, a kind of fundamentalist right is on the rise . . . all over Europe, Latin America and the US.”


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