Agent says Rushdie is on ‘road to recovery’ after stabbing


NEW YORK — Salman Rushdie is on the road to recovery and showing signs of his “fiery and defiant self,” his family and friends said Sunday, days after a shocking assault left him on a ventilator with several stabbing.

Just hours after Friday’s attack at a literary event in western New York, the British author underwent emergency surgery for life-threatening injuries.

But his condition, although still serious, has since shown clear signs of improvement and he no longer requires respiratory assistance.

“He is no longer on a ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun,” his agent Andrew Wylie said in a statement. “It’s going to be a long time; the injuries are serious, but his condition is going in the right direction.

Iran on Monday “categorically” denied any connection with the assailant who stabbed British writer Rushdie, author of the novel “The Satanic Verses”, but blamed the writer himself.

“We categorically deny” any connection with the attack and “no one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in the first official reaction of Tehran at Friday’s knife attack.

“In this attack, we do not consider anyone but Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation,” he said during his weekly press conference in Tehran.

“By insulting the sacred matters of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than one and a half billion Muslims and all followers of divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the wrath and rage of the people .”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that Iranian state media had “welcomed” the attack, adding that “it is despicable”.

The award-winning writer – who spent years under police protection after Iranian leaders called for Rushdie’s murder for his depiction of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad in his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ – was on the about to be interviewed as part of a lecture series when a man rushed onto the stage and stabbed him repeatedly in the neck and abdomen.

The alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey, was tackled to the ground by staff and other members of the public before being taken into custody.

He was later arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder charges. He is due to appear again on August 19.

Rushdie’s son said the family was “extremely relieved” that his father was breathing unassisted and was able to “say a few words”.

“Although his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual fiery and provocative sense of humor remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie said in a statement.

The event host, who was on stage with Rushdie and was also injured in the attack, said he initially thought it was a practical joke – until until he realizes that his famous guest was bleeding.

“It was very difficult to understand. It looked like some kind of bad prank and it had no sense of reality. And then when there was blood behind him, it became real,” the heavily bandaged Henry Reese told CNN in an interview.

Questions surround the suspect

Police and prosecutors have provided little information about Matar’s background or possible motivations behind the attack.

Matar’s family appears to be from the village of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, although he was born in the United States, according to a Lebanese official.

Rushdie, 75, had been living under an effective death sentence since 1989.

It was then that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a religious decree, or fatwa, ordering Muslims to kill the writer for what he considered the blasphemous nature of “Satanic Verses “.

Rushdie, who was born in India in 1947, moved to New York two decades ago and became a US citizen in 2016. Despite the continued threat to his life, he was increasingly seen in public – often without significant security.

In an interview with German magazine Stern a few days before Friday’s attack, he described how his life had returned to some degree of normalcy after moving from Britain.

‘Appalled’

“Since I’ve been living in America…really, there hasn’t been a problem this whole time,” he said.

The knife attack sparked international outrage from politicians, literary figures and ordinary people.

US President Joe Biden called it a “vicious” attack and praised Rushdie for “his refusal to be bullied or silenced”. British leader Boris Johnson said he was “appalled”.

But the attack also drew applause from Islamist extremists in Iran and Pakistan.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iranian state media had “welcomed” the attack. “It’s despicable,” he said in a statement.

Matar is being held without bond and has been formally charged with attempted second degree murder and assault with a weapon.

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