WASHINGTON: The attack against Salman Rushdie, given aggressor Hadi MatarIran’s alleged Iranian sympathies immediately took on geopolitical colors, just days after the Biden administration’s Justice Department accused a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of attempting to orchestrating the assassination of former national security adviser John Bolton.
Matar was cornered by members of the public who jumped onto the stage to protect the panelists, and a doctor among them helped administer CPR to Rushdie before he was airlifted to hospital. Rushdie’s interviewer Henry Reese, 73, was also injured in the attack, but was discharged from a local hospital after being treated. Reese, who is co-founder of an organization that provides residencies for writers facing persecution, and Rushdie were to speak about the United States as a haven for writers in exile. In a statement released later, Reese called Rushdie “one of the great defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of creative expression”, adding: “The fact that this attack could occur in the United States is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments and many people and organizations”.

Iranian fundamentalist clerical leaders led by Ayatollah Khomeini had passed a death fatwa against Rushdie following the publication of his book “Satanic Verses” in 1988. The fatwa had never been officially revoked, but after years of hiding and protection, Rushdie, who currently lives in New York City, had recently resumed normal engagements.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among world leaders who spoke on behalf of the author, saying that “for 33 years, Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it’s universal. Today more than ever, we stand by his side.”

US national security adviser JakeSullivan called the attack “appalling” and said members of the Biden-Harris administration were praying for Rushdie’s speedy recovery. New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the attack “horrific”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack

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