There is no peace for the ‘infidels’ because the fanatics never rest. At 75 years old, the fatwa launched in 1989 by Ayatollah Khomeini yesterday reached Salman Rushdie in the peaceful and remote New York town of Erie, almost 600 kilometers from the Big Apple, where he had settled since 2000, except for the time that it happened in Atlanta (Georgia).

Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey resident, dressed in a black robe lunged at him on stage, knife in hand, as soon as he saw him leave and went straight to the neck, where he stabbed him several times.

As explained by his agent, at dawn in Spain, the writer “could lose an eye.” After undergoing surgery, Rushdie “cannot speak” and is connected to a respirator. “His liver, which was also hit by the stab wounds, has suffered damage. As well as a nerve in his arm,” said Andrew Wylie. “The news is not good.”

“I saw his knuckles as if he was hitting him or something,” a witness, Bill Vasu, who was in the half-empty amphitheater, with capacity for 4,000 people, told ‘The New York Times’. The public rose from their seats horrified to see him fall into a pool of blood.

They all subdued him and he was arrested by a state trooper assigned to the event. Rushdie had his hands up to his neck and they were bloody.

The criminal, who also attacked the presenter, is in the hands of the Police, so he will not take the more than four million dollars offered for his head by a religious foundation affiliated with the Government of Iran since the Ayatollah declared him an “enemy”. of Islam.” Nor the promised paradise, because both are still alive.

It is not the first failed attack that he overcomes, but it is the first in which he is seriously injured. In 1989 he survived a bomb in a London hotel that exploded prematurely and made the terrorist the first martyr of the saga.

Iran has periodically renewed the death sentence against the Bombay-born, Cambridge-educated writer. The Ayatollahs’ regime considers that if someone had executed his fatwa, other authors accused of defaming the Prophet Mohammad would not have dared to do so.

Ten years hidden

Rushdie had to spend ten years in hiding with official protection since he fictionalized the prophet in his book ‘The Satanic Verses’. Al-Qaeda even put him on its target list.

In recent years he seemed to have loosened up, with little-publicized talks like this one, held in a gated community of the Chatauqua Institution, which devotes nine weeks each summer to arts and literary programs. The irruption of an armed man in the public is considered a “catastrophic breach of security”.

As organizers rushed the audience out of the amphitheater, a small group of medically-trained attendees lifted the writer’s legs to improve blood flow to the heart.

In front of them, an Associated Press journalist who was covering the presentation became an exceptional witness. “What happened?” he said people were wondering. Some believed that it was a montage in bad taste, part of the presentation of a controversial author.

The writer “was transported by helicopter to a hospital in the area, his condition still unknown,” the state police said in a statement. For her part, the Governor of the State, Kathy Hochul, celebrated that he “is alive” and assured that he received “the medical care he needs.”

Paradoxically, Hochul was at that time at an event against gun violence in Babylon (Long Island). From there she showed her surprise that it happened in that “quiet rural area”, within a community in which some of the most prominent thought leaders meet annually to talk about the freedom of expression that she promises to defend.

“This place was ideal for him to talk, and that’s what he was trying to do,” she lamented.

Rushdie never stopped fighting for the world’s writers who suffer any kind of political or religious persecution. Since he went into exile in the US in 2000, he appeared sporadically at cultural parties held in New York and collaborated with the non-profit organization Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN America), of which he was president for two years. His public life had become a challenge to threats and censorship.

“Just hours before he was attacked, on the same Friday morning, he emailed me to help relocate Ukrainian writers,” the organization’s chief executive, Suzanne Nossel, said in a statement.

“We are shocked by the impact and horror. We can think of no comparable incident in which a writer has been violently attacked on American soil. All those who have responded to the words with violence or called for it are responsible for legitimizing this attack. Rushdie can survive, and that would be his best response to the fans.”

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