The attack has left him at risk of losing one eye, with the nerves in his arm being severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged due to the attack.
The suspect behind the attack is 24-year-old Hadi Matar from Fairview, New Jersey. He is currently in custody.
Sympathetic to 'Shia Extremism'
According to eyewitness accounts, Matar, who had a pass for the lecture, allegedly jumped on the stage and started beating Rushdie on the chest and neck. His motive for the attack is unknown as of now. "But we are working with the FBI, the Sheriff's Office and we will determine," said Major Eugene Staniszewski of the New York State Police in a press conference.
A glimpse at Matar's social media, according to NDTV, portrayed him to be sympathetic to "Shia extremism" and a supporter of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). In the electronic devices retrieved from his backpack, he reportedly had pictures of the now deceased Iranian commander Qassem Solemani, who was assassinated by the United States in 2020.
Rushdie had been in hiding for years after The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, one year after which, Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa, calling for Rushdie's death. The country had also offered over $3 million in reward to anyone who would kill Rushdie.
While the Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to death in 1991, its Italian translator Ettore Capriolo was seriously injured in a stabbing the same year. The Norway publisher of the book William Nygaard was shot three times in an attempted assassination in 1993, but survived.
(With inputs from Reuters and AP.)