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Salman Rushdie loses eye, use of hand in Islamic extremist attack


British author Sir. Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed multiple times allegedly by a Shia Muslim at a theatre in New York state in August, has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand, according to his agent.

The 75-year-old Indian-born writer suffered three severe wounds to his neck and 15 to his chest and torso in the attack because of a death edict issued years ago by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Rushdie’s literary agent Andrew Wylie told the Spanish language newspaper El Pais, according to The Telegraph.

The attack, which occurred while Rushdie was on the stage of Chautauqua Institution for a discussion, led to the loss of sight in an eye and left a hand incapacitated. The author remains in hospital, Wylie was quoted as saying.

Rushdie became the object of persecution when he wrote the novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), in which militant Islamists believed he “blasphemed” the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The then Ayatollah of Iran issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s murder, accompanied by a monetary reward of about $3 million. The Ayatollah’s decree extended to anyone involved in publishing or translating the novel. A Japanese scholar who translated the novel into Japanese was murdered in 1991.

Rushdie, who promotes freedom of speech and speaks out against religious extremism, was forced to go into hiding for more than a dozen years. In 2000, he moved to America, where he has taught at several universities, including Emory in Atlanta and New York University.

The fatwa calling for his murder was never rescinded. This means any Islamist might be prone to interpret this as calling them to act to fulfill the fatwa as a matter of religious duty.

The New York State Police identified the suspect in the attack on Rushdie as Hadi Matar from New Jersey. He was sympathetic to the Iranian government, The New York Post said at the time, quoting anonymous law enforcement sources.

Based on his social media posts, Matar is a supporter of Iran, its Revolutionary Guard and Shia extremism, the Post reported.

The suspect rushed the stage and attacked Rushdie after he had just sat down onstage with the discussion’s moderator, Ralph Henry Reese, from the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit City of Asylum for exiled writers, The New York Times reported at the time. The author was scheduled to give a talk before 2,500 people about the United States being a safe haven for exiled writers.

President Joe Biden called the attack “reprehensible.”

“This act of violence is appalling.  All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery,” Biden said in a statement. “We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr. Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.”

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