The agent of the British writer Salman Rushdie confirmed this Sunday that the latter is “recovering”, two days after he was stabbed in the stomach and neck by an American of Lebanese origin during an act in the United States.
Hours after the attack on Friday, which occurred during a literary event in the state of New York, the British writer underwent emergency surgery after suffering injuries that made his life suspect.
But while his condition remains critical, he has shown signs of improvement and no longer needs a ventilator.
And his agent, Andrew Wiley, said in a statement that Rushdie is no longer on ventilators and “is beginning to recover,” noting that his recovery will take “a long time.” His injuries are serious, but his condition is developing in the right direction.”
The writer, who spent years under police protection after asking Iranian regime leaders to kill him for his novel “The Satanic Verses,” was about to speak in an interview when a man came onstage and stabbed him multiple times in the neck and stomach.
The attacker, Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old Lebanese-American, was arrested by officials and members of the public, before police took him into custody.
He appeared in court on Saturday, where he pleaded not guilty to the charge of attempted murder.
On Sunday, the writer’s son, Zafar, confirmed that the family was “very relieved” that Rushdie gave up his breathing apparatus and was able to “say a few words”.
“Although his injuries are serious and could change his life, his usual spirited and opinionated sense of humor has not been affected,” Rushdie’s son said in a statement.
The leader of the “Asylum City” group, Henry Reis, who was talking to Rushdie before he was attacked, said he initially thought someone was pulling a bad prank, but realized the truth of the matter when he saw the blood, knowing that he was hurt too.
“It was very difficult to understand,” said Reese, who appeared on CNN Sunday with a large bandage covering his swollen and bruised right eye. It seemed like a bad joke. But after blood (stain) formed behind him, she came true.”
Police and prosecutors have not provided much information about Matar’s background or motives.
In Lebanon, Ali Qassem Tuhfa, mayor of the village of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, referred to Hadi Matar as “of Lebanese origin.”
He continued in an interview with Agence France-Presse: “He was born and raised in the United States, and his father and mother are from Yaron.”
An AFP correspondent who visited the village on Saturday was told that Matar’s father, Matal Qan, and his father still live in the village.
And he asked the journalists who arrived at his father’s house to leave.
Salman Rushdie had been receiving death threats ever since the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa to shed his blood in 1989 over his novel “The Satanic Verses,” which some Muslims considered blasphemous.
In a recent interview with the German magazine “Stern”, Rushdie said: “Since I started living in the United States, I have no more problems (…) my life has returned to normal”, expressing his “optimism” despite of the “daily death threats,” according to excerpts published by the magazine in The full interview will be released on August 18.
After moving to New York, Rushdie became a US citizen in 2016. Despite constant threats against his life, he was increasingly seen in public, often without notable security escorts.
Security was loose for Friday’s event, which took place at the Chutokoa Foundation, which hosts arts programs in a quiet area near the city of Buffalo.
The stabbing aroused widespread anger, including among politicians and literary figures.
US President Joe Biden described it as a “vicious attack”, praising the writer for his “refusal of intimidation and silencing”.
In turn, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “horrible” attack.
But the attack was supported by Islamist militants in Iran and Pakistan.
Matar is currently being held without bail and has been charged with attempted second-degree murder and armed assault.