Salman Rushdie 'Taken Off Ventilator', Can Talk; Accused Pleads 'Not Guilty' | Top Updates

Salman Rushdie Stabbed: The accused attacker, identified as 24-year-old Indian-born Hadi Matar, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance on Saturday.

By Aalok Sensharma
Updated: Sun, 14 Aug 2022 07:45 AM IST
Minute Read
Salman Rushdie 'Taken Off Ventilator', Can Talk; Accused Pleads 'Not Guilty' | Top Updates
Author Salman Rushdie listens during the opening news conference of the Frankfurt book fair. (Photo: Reuters)

Renowned author Salman Rushdie remained hospitalised on Saturday, but was taken off the ventilator and is able to talk, said his agent Andrew Wylie on Saturday, without giving further details. Rushdie, an Indian-born British author, was stabbed multiple times in western New York State on Friday during a lecture.

Earlier, Wylie said that the 75-year-old novelist - who was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at Chautauqua Institution in western New York - will likely lose an eye, and his nerves and liver have been severely damaged.

ATTACKER PLEADS NOT GUILTY

The accused attacker, identified as 24-year-old Indian-born Hadi Matar, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance on Saturday, his court-appointed lawyer Nathaniel Barone said.

"We're kind of in the early stages and, quite frankly, in cases like this, I think the important thing to remember is people need to keep an open mind. They need to look at everything. They can't just assume something happened for why they think something happened," Barone said, as reported by Reuters.

POLICE REFUSE TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL DETAILS

The police has refused to provide additional details related to investigation. On Friday, it said that the officials have not established a motive for the attack.

However, Matar's social media accounts show that he sympathetic to Shi'ite extremism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a powerful faction which has been accused of carrying out a global extremist campaign by the US.

It must be noted that Rushie has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" prompted Iran to urge Muslims to kill him.

In 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to kill the author and anyone involved in the book's publication for blasphemy.

Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the novel, was stabbed to death in 1991 in a case that remains unsolved.

ATTACK CONDEMNED BY GLOBAL LEADERS

The attack on Rushdie has been condemned by global leaders, including US President Joe Biden, who said the writer stands for essential and universal ideals -- truth, courage and resilience.

"Jill and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Salman Rushdie yesterday in New York. We, together with all Americans and people around the world, are praying for his health and recovery. I am grateful to the first responders and the brave individuals who jumped into action to render aid to Rushdie and subdue the attacker," Biden said in a statement.

"Salman Rushdie -- with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced -- stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear," he added.

Rishi Sunak, a candidate seeking to become Britain's next prime minister, said the attack on Rushdie should serve as a wake-up call to the West over Iran.

"The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie should be a wake-up call for the West, and Iran’s reaction to the attack strengthens the case for proscribing the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps)," Sunak said.

IRAN YET TO REACT

There has been no official government reaction in Iran to the attack on Rushdie, but several hardline Iranian newspapers praised his assailant.

Hardline Kayhan newspaper, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote: “A thousand bravos ... to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York," adding, “The hand of the man who tore the neck of God's enemy must be kissed”.

The headline of the hardline Vatan Emrooz newspaper read: “Knife in Salman Rushdie’s neck”.

The Khorasan daily carried the headline: “Satan on the way to hell”.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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