Salman Rushdie has lost sight in one eye after attack, says agent

Author Salman Rushdie poses for a photograph after an interview with the Reuters news agency in central London, the UK, on October 8, 2010 [File: Andrew Winning/ Reuters]

Agent says Salman Rushdie suffered ‘profound’ wounds in attack in August and has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand.

Salman Rushdie has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand following an attack on stage during a literary event in western New York in August, his agent said.

Andrew Wylie told the Spanish language newspaper El Pais in an article published on Saturday that Rushdie, who is 75 years old, suffered a “brutal” attack that left him with “profound” wounds.

“He’s lost the sight of one eye … He had three serious wounds in his neck. One hand is incapacitated because the nerves in his arm were cut. And he has about 15 more wounds in his chest and torso,” Wylie said.

The agent told the newspaper he could not say whether Rushdie remained in a hospital or discuss his whereabouts.

“He’s going to live … That’s the important thing,” Wylie said.

Rushdie, who had received several death threats after the publication of his The Satanic Verses, was attacked just as he was about to give a lecture at Chautauqua Institution in New York state on August 12.

The novelist was rushed to the hospital after sustaining severe injuries in the attack, including nerve damage in his arm, wounds to his liver, and the likely loss of an eye, his agent said at the time.

The attack came 33 years after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to assassinate Rushdie over the publication of The Satanic Verses.

Some Muslims saw passages in the novel about the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.

Following Khomeini’s fatwa, Rushdie, born in India to a Muslim Kashmiri family, spent nine years in hiding under British police protection.

While Iran’s pro-reform government of President Mohammad Khatami distanced itself from the fatwa in the late 1990s, the multimillion-dollar bounty hanging over Rushdie’s head kept growing and the fatwa was never lifted.

Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was suspended from Twitter in 2019 for saying the fatwa against Rushdie was “irrevocable”.

Iran has denied involvement in the August attack.

The man accused of stabbing the novelist, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.

He is being held without bail in a western New York jail.

The attack was along the lines of what Rushdie and his agent have thought was the “principal danger … a random person coming out of nowhere and attacking,” Wylie told El Pais.

“So you can’t protect against it because it’s totally unexpected and illogical,” he said.



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