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'Thought It Was a Stunt at First': Eyewitnesses Recount Attack on Salman Rushdie

The Indian-origin British author, who wrote the controversial book 'The Satanic Verses,' was attacked in New York.

Updated
India
2 min read
'Thought It Was a Stunt at First': Eyewitnesses Recount Attack on Salman Rushdie
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Indian-origin British author Salman Rushdie, who wrote the controversial book The Satanic Verses, was attacked ahead of a lecture in western New York on Friday, 12 August.

A man leaped onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stabbed Rushdie during the introduction, following which the suspect was taken into custody.

Besides Rushdie, the moderator of the event was also attacked and had to be rushed to a hospital. The widely controversial author is alive and undergoing treatment, according to Associated Press.

Here's how eyewitnesses described the incident:

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'Unfolded Within Seconds'

David Graves, 78, who was seated in the middle section of the amphitheater, told The New York Times that Rushdie was sitting on the dais when the attacker got onto the stage and attacked him.

"Things unfolded within seconds," he said.

Roger Warner, from Ohio, who was sitting in the front row, said that he saw a tall, lean man run onto the stage from the left side and began attacking the author. Initially, he thought that the attacker had punched Rushdie, but soon afterwards, he saw the blood.

"I just saw blood all around his eyes and running down his cheek," he told The New York Times.

'Thought It Was a Stunt'

Eyewitnesses recounted to the news agency AP that the attack involved at least "10 to 15" blows. One of them even said she thought it was "a stunt" at first.

Kathleen Jones said that the attacker was dressed in black and was wearing a black mask.

"We thought perhaps it was part of a stunt to show that there's still a lot of controversy around this author. But it became evident in a few seconds that it wasn't," she told AP.

Rabbi Charles Savenor said that he was taken aback when the attacker started "pounding" Rushdie.

"At first you're like 'what's going on?' And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten," Savenor told AP.

He added that the attack lasted about 20 seconds.

'Serious, but Recoverable'

“He (the attacker) actually went at him at least 10 to 15 times. He connected fewer than that: three most likely,” said another eyewitness, Valerie Haskell, who was present in the audience with her husband.

“People jumped onto the stage from the audience to the point where there were probably 20 people on stage pulling the attacker off and keeping him contained,” she added.

Valerie Haskell's husband, Dr Martin Haskell, a physician, was one of the people in the crowd that went up to help. Speaking to AP, he described Rushdie's condition as being “serious but recoverable.”

(With inputs from The New York Times, Associated Press.)

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Topics:  Salman Rushdie 

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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