A witness claims that on Friday, author Salman Rushdie was repeatedly punched and stabbed.
A New York witness, Rabbi Charles Savenor, described the attack as “really jarring” to Insider.
Rushdie was apparently stabbed in the neck and was hospitalized, police said.
Author Salman Rushdie was repeatedly pounded during a stabbing attack that unfolded on Friday just as he was set to give an on-stage lecture in New York, a witness told Insider.
Rabbi Charles Savenor, who was present when the attack occurred, testified that the 75-year-old Rushdie had been called on stage at the Chautauqua Institution for an interview when the assailant ran up on stage and “began to beat and pound” him.
“There was applause … and as soon as [Rushdie] sat down someone ran onto the stage and began to beat and pound Mr. Rushdie,” said Savenor, the executive director of the Civic Spirit organization.
Savenor recalled that the man who jumped onto the stage “was pounding” Rushdie as he sat on a chair, causing Rushdie to fall to the floor.
Rushdie and the interviewer, according to the New York State Police, were attacked, and Rushdie appears to have been stabbed in the neck.
Rushdie, a native of India, was airlifted to a nearby medical facility. His condition was not immediately known.
Authorities say the interviewer suffered only a minor head injury.
The attack lasted about 45 seconds, Savenor estimated.
Authorities quickly took the suspect into custody. Police haven’t released the suspected attacker’s name or a possible motive.
More than a thousand people were in the amphitheater when the incident occurred, and Savenor described their reaction as “shock, surprise, and dismay.”
It was a quick turn of events, he said. To paraphrase, “He was a man who ran very fast.”
Savenor stated that he overheard people leaving the amphitheater after the attack saying, “they’ve never seen anything like this whatsoever.” This was only three minutes after the attack.
There was initially confusion about the attack’s motivation.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late leader of Iran, issued a fatwa in 1989 ordering Rushdie’s execution because of “The Satanic Verses.” In Iran, the book was censored.
Whether or not this is a delayed reaction to the fatwa is unclear, Savenor told Insider. But I do know that the pounding on the stage resounded to the audience in the auditorium, and now this is being discussed all over the world.
“It’s really sad,” the rabbi continued.
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