While on stage on Friday to give a lecture in an amphitheater in Chautauqua, in upstate New York, Salman Rushdie was violently stabbed. The 75-year-old British writer, author of satanic verses and since 1989 target of a fatwa in Iran, is between life and death. A suspect has been arrested by US police. Who is he ? How is Salman Rushdie? Has Iran reacted? 20 minutes make the point.
How healthy is Salman Rushdie?
Stabbed in the neck and abdomen, Salman Rushdie was airlifted to the nearest hospital for emergency surgery. Released from the operating room, the writer was placed on an artificial respirator. “The news is not good,” said Friday evening at the New York Times the British writer’s agent, Andrew Wylie. “Salman will probably lose an eye; the nerves in his arm were severed and he was stabbed in the liver,” the officer detailed.
What do we know about his attacker?
The suspect was arrested at the scene and immediately taken into custody, said New York State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski. His name is Hadi Matar, is 24 years old, lives in the State of New Jersey. Born in California according to the Daily Beast, he is of Lebanese origin and is presented as a Shiite Muslim, defending a conservative and political vision of Islam close to that of Tehran.
“The Hadi who is responsible for this attack is not the Hadi I knew who spoke of kindness”, testifies his former classmate Gabriel Sanchez, 24, at the Daily Beast. He speaks of him as a “very devoted Muslim” who loved to read and play basketball, active in class. According to several American media, Hadi Matar had a fake license at the time of the attack, in the name of Hassan Mughniyeh. A double reference to Imad Mughniyeh, founder of Hezbollah, and Hassan Nasrallah, the current secretary general of Hezbollah, according to Darya Safai, Belgian deputy of Iranian origin.
What were the reactions to this attack?
Tributes and marks of political support were quick to flourish. “His fight is ours, universal”, launched French President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter, ensuring that he was “today, more than ever, by his side”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right that we should never stop defending”, referring to freedom of expression.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said through his spokesman that he was “horrified” by the attack, adding “in no way was the violence a response to words”. “This act of violence is appalling,” said US President Joe Biden’s security adviser, Jake Sullivan. “Nothing justifies a fatwa, a death sentence”, was indignant as for him Charlie Hebdo, French satirical newspaper decimated by an Islamist attack in 2015.
In Iran, the aggressor was praised by several media. “Congratulations to this courageous and conscious man who attacked the apostate and the vicious Salman Rushdie”, writes the main Iranian ultra-conservative daily, Kayhan, whose boss is appointed by the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Let us kiss the hand of him who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife”, continues the text. Following the official line, all Iranian media have labeled Salman Rushdie an “apostate”, with the exception of Etemad, a reformist newspaper. The Iranian power has not yet officially commented on the facts.