Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed novelist who was the subject of an Iranian fatwā calling for his execution in 1989, was attacked and stabbed before a lecture this morning at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. He had just been introduced at the talk when an assailant rushed and assaulted him.

An eyewitness from the audience told The New York Times, “There was just one attacker. He was dressed in black. He had a loose black garment on. He ran with lightning speed over to him.”

The attack occurred around 11 a.m. the morning of Friday. The attacker was apprehended by several people and reportedly booked by a state police officer present at the event.

Witnesses said Rushdie seemed alive and no one was administering CPR, but he was still badly wounded from the confrontation.

The author was treated at the scene by venue staff and then transported by helicopter to a hospital after he and the onstage interviewer were both attacked.

Accounts say the assailant hopped up to the stage and began “stabbing and punching” Rushdie who then fell, and police say he sustained a stab wound in the neck. The other assault victim was only hurt with minor head injuries, apparently.

Rushdie was set to speak as part of a series on writers who were exiled.

He received an order for execution by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first Supreme leader of Iran and leader of the Iranian Revolution.

The fatwā remains in effect because it can only be revoked by their original issuer, and Khomeini has since died.

The death order came about in response to his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which included a depiction of Muhammed that sparked extreme reactions in some Muslim communities. Violence in the wake of the order included the killing of the scholar and Japanese translator of the novel, Hitoshi Igarashi, as well as the assault and attempted attack of a Norwegian publisher and Turkish translator respectively.

Rushdie lived in hiding for nearly a decade due to the massive bounty still on his head.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) released a video statement saying he is alive and is “getting the care that he needs.”

She commended the author for “speaking truth to power” and remaining “unafraid, despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life, it seems.”

The full extent of his condition after arriving in hospital is not clear.

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