Rushdie off ventilator, talking & joking: Author Taseer

New York, Aug 15:

Novelist Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed at a literary festival in New York, is now off the ventilator and is able to talk, according to fellow author Aatish Ali Taseer.

“Just had the most thrilling news: ‘Salman is off the ventilator and talking (and joking)…’,” Taseer, a British-American writer and journalist, said on social media on Saturday night.

On Friday, Rushdie, 75, was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, when he was suddenly stabbed twice by 24-year-old Hadi Matar, of New Jersey. Rushdie’s literary agent Andrew Wylie told media outlets that the author was hospitalized and on a ventilator, unable to speak. Wylie said Rushdie was likely to lose one eye and also suffered damage to his liver and the nerves in one of his arms were severed. The acclaimed novelist has already undergone some surgery.

Matar has been arrested and charged with one count of attempted second-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault (on a man who moderated the Friday literary event). An attorney for Matar entered a not guilty plea on his behalf at a court hearing on Saturday. Matar could face up to 25 years in prison.

US media reported citing a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation that a preliminary review of Matar’s social media showed that he had sympathies for Shia extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Rushdie is a celebrated India-born British-American author and winner of numerous literary prizes. In 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran at that time, issued an edict calling for the killing of Rushdie, whose book The Satanic Verses is viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims.

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