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Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York, suspect identified

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y — A man ran onto the stage at an event Friday morning in western New York and stabbed author Salman Rushdie in the neck as he was preparing to give a lecture, according to police.

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According to The Associated Press, New York State police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24. He was arrested at the scene. No motive has been identified.

The AP also said that Rushdie sustained a damaged liver, severed nerves in one of his arms and may lose an eye due to the attack.

WPXI reporter David Johnson, who witnessed the attack, said Rushdie had just taken his seat on a stage at the Chautauqua Institution when a man attacked him. Reports of the incident began to surface on social media around 11 a.m. EDT.

“We were just stunned,” Johnson said in a social media post. “It was surreal.”

Authorities said a man attacked Rushdie and an interviewer, identified by the Chautauqua Institute as Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum. Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital after the incident, and his condition was not immediately known. Police said Reese suffered a minor head injury.

A state trooper working at the event took the suspected assailant into custody immediately after the stabbing, authorities said.

In a statement, officials with the Chautauqua Institution asked for prayers for Rushdie and Reese. They said all cultural center’s programs were canceled for the remainder of Friday.

In a statement, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she directed state police to assist in the investigation into Friday’s attack.

Multiple threats have been made against Rushdie’s life since 1988, when his book “The Satanic Verses” was first published in the United Kingdom, according to BBC News and The Guardian. Iran has offered a $3 million reward for anyone who kills him, according to The Washington Post.

Rushdie, who has penned 14 novels, four non-fiction books and a collection of short stories, was scheduled to speak Friday at the Chautauqua Institution as part of the Chautauqua Lecture Series.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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