Salman Rushdie: Famed author remains in hospital after stabbing as site faces security scrutiny

State police recommend Hadi Matar, 24, be charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault in the stabbing of author Salman Rushdie at a talk show in West New York .

[Original story, published at 11:09 a.m. ET]

Authorities identify suspect who attacked author Salman Rushdie at event in West New YorkLater in the day, Rushdie was put on a ventilator and unable to speak, his agent, Andrew Wylie, he told the New York Times. He will probably lose an eye, Wylie said. “The nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged. The news is not good.”

A suspect was arrested a short time later and authorities are working to determine a motive and charges, state police said.

After the attack, questions were raised about security precautions — or the lack thereof — at the host institution, which is located on a rural lake complex about 70 miles south of Buffalo, N.Y. York.

The institution’s management had rejected recommendations for basic security measures, such as bag checks and metal detectors, out of fear that it would create a divide between the speakers and the audience, according to two sources who spoke to CNN. Management also feared it would change the culture of the institution, the sources said.

Both sources have direct knowledge of the security situation at the Chautauqua institution and previous recommendations and spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

A police officer, center, carries a bag from the amphitheater after author Salman Rushdie was attacked during a lecture Friday at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York.

It is unclear whether the recommended measures would have prevented the attack on Rushdie based on information released about the incident as of Friday evening. Authorities have not disclosed the type of weapon that was used in the attack.

There were no security searches or metal detectors at the event, a person who witnessed the attack told CNN. The witness is not being identified because he expressed concern for his personal safety.

CNN reached out to the Chautauqua institution and its leadership for comment, but did not receive a response Friday.

The institution’s president, Michael Hill, defended his organization’s security plans when asked during a news conference on Friday if there would be more precautions at future events.

“We evaluate for each event what we think is the appropriate level of security, and certainly that was what we thought was important, which is why we had a state police and sheriff presence,” Hill said . “We will assess for each of the Institution’s events what we believe is the appropriate level of security and this is an ongoing process in which we work together with local law enforcement.”

Salman Rushdie reflects on post-colonial India 40 years after 'Midnight's Children' premiere

Also injured Friday was Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit Asylum City, who had planned to join Rushdie in an argument, police said. He was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released.

The world reacts to the attack on Salman Rushdie

Reese is on the advisory board of the press freedom group PEN America, which tweeted a message from him Friday afternoon: “Salman Rushdie is one of the great authors of our time and one of the great defenders of free speech and freedom of creative expression.”

Reese added: “We revere him and our main concern is for his life. The fact that this attack could happen in the United States is indicative of the threats against writers by many governments and by many individuals and organizations. In addition to wishing All the best to Salman. As Americans and citizens of the world, we must recommit ourselves to upholding the values ​​that Salman has stood for.”

Rushdie’s writings have won several literary prizes, including the Booker Prize for his 1981 book, Midnight’s Children. But it was his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, that attracted the most attention, as some Muslims found the book sacrilegious, and its publication in 1988 sparked public protests.

The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who described the book as an insult to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, issued a religious decree, or fatwa, calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989.

Authorities were at the New Jersey home connected to a suspect

The suspect in the attack was identified as Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, New York State Trooper Commander Maj. Eugene J. Staniszewski said during a news conference Friday evening.

The attack happened around 10:45 a.m. as Rushdie was presenting, a witness told CNN. A man in a black shirt appeared to be “stabbing” the perpetrator. The witness, who was about 75 meters from the stage, did not hear the attacker say anything or see a weapon.

Another witness, Joyce Lussier, was sitting in the second row when she saw a man who “shot across the stage and came right at Mr. Rushdie.

“He came in on the left side and jumped across the stage and lunged at him. In, I don’t know, two seconds he went through that stage,” Lussier said. He heard people screaming and crying and saw people in the audience coming on stage, he said.

Matar, 24, allegedly stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and members of the public rushed to the attacker and tackled him to the ground before a state trooper took him into custody, police said.

By Friday evening, police had blocked off the street at the New Jersey home believed to be connected to the suspect.

Iran’s bounty was never lifted

Rushdie, the son of a successful Muslim businessman in India, was educated in England, first at Rugby School and later at Cambridge University, where he obtained an MA in history.

After university, he began working as an advertising copywriter in London, before publishing his first novel, “Grimus” in 1975.

In 1989, as a result of the fatwa, Rushdie began a decade under British protection.

Rushdie told CNN in 1999 that the experience taught him “to value even more … intensely the things I valued before, like the art of literature and freedom of speech and the right to say things that others don’t like them..

“It may have been a nasty decade, but it was the right fight, you know. It was fighting for the things I believe in most against the things I dislike most, which are bigotry, bigotry and censorship” .

The bounty against Rushdie has never been lifted, although in 1998 the Iranian government tried to distance itself from the fatwa by promising not to try to carry it out.

Despite this, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently reaffirmed the religious edict.

In February 2017, on Khamenei’s official website, the Supreme Leader was asked if the “fatwa against Rushdie was still in effect,” to which Khamenei confirmed that it was, saying, “The decree is as he issued Imam Khomeini”.

CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Adam Thomas, Kristina Sgueglia, Samantha Beech, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Liam Reilly, David Romain, Nicki Brown, Mark Morales, Christina Maxouris, Jonny Hallam and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.

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