CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.

A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday evening, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and an eye he was likely to lose.

Police identified the attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. He was awaiting arraignment following his arrest at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education center and resort where Rushdie was scheduled to speak. Matar was born a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published.

The motive for the attack was unclear, State Police Maj.

Eugene Staniszewski said.

Rushdie’s 1988 novel was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims, who saw a character as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. The book was banned in Iran, where the late leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

Iran’s theocratic government and its state-run media assigned no rationale for Friday’s assault. In Tehran, some Iranians interviewed Saturday by The Associated Press praised the attack on an author they believe tarnished the Islamic faith, while others worried it would further isolate their country.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the attacker confront Rushdie on stage and stab or punch him 10 to 15 times as the author was being introduced. Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who was among those who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.” Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. Reese suffered a facial injury and was treated and released from a hospital, police said. He and Rushdie had planned to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.

A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s lecture, and state police said the trooper made the arrest. But after the attack, some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given the decades of threats against Rushdie and a bounty on his head offering more than $3 million to anyone who killed him.

Rabbi Charles Savenor was among the roughly 2,500 people in the audience. Amid gasps, spectators were ushered out of the outdoor amphitheater. (Ap)