(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked Friday as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.
New York State Police reported the 75-year-old author was stabbed at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen on the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater stage at 10:47 a.m. Friday.
He was airlifted to UPMC Hamot in Erie where he is still undergoing surgery as of Friday evening.
Watch below as New York State Police hold a news conference on the attack.
The suspect was identified as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey, New York State Police Troop A Commander Major Eugene J. Staniszewski stated in the news conference.
Police say several staff members and people from the audience were able to take the suspect to the ground immediately after the attack. The suspect was then taken into custody by a NY State Trooper and a Chautauqua County Sherriff’s Deputy.
Rushdie’s condition is still unknown at this time.
NY State Police also reported the interviewer suffered a minor head injury.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and FBI are assisting New York State Police in the investigation.
Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children,” but his name became known around the world after “The Satanic Verses.”
Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.
A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.
Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward.
That year, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.
JET 24/FOX 66/YourErie.com currently has a crew on the scene and will continue to update you with more information as it becomes available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.