SALMAN Rushdie’s family have broken their silence after the author was brutally stabbed at an event in New York.
The 75-year-old’s son Zafar said his dad suffered “severe, life-changing” injuries, but “his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact”.
Salman Rushdie was stabbed multiple times in New York on FridayCredit: PA
Hadi Matar, 24, was arrested and has been charged with attempted murderCredit: AP
Rushdie was knifed up to 15 times on Friday in front of horrified onlookers in New York after suffering years of death threats over his novel The Satanic Verses.
The Indian-born writer was rushed to hospital, but has now been taken off his ventilator and has been able to say a few words.
His son Zafar today thanked the brave audience members who rushed to his aid as he shared an update on his dad’s health.
He said: “Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving ongoing medical treatment.
“We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.
“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains in tact.
“We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.
“We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.”
It comes as Rushdie’s accused attacker – believed to be sympathetic to the Iranian regime – pleaded not guilty after allegedly stabbing the author 15 times.
Hadi Matar, 24, was accused of attempted murder and assault after inflicting the horrific attack while Rushdie was on stage preparing to deliver a lecture on Friday.
An attorney for Matar entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf during an arraignment hearing in New York.
Matar appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask. His hands were cuffed in front of him.
Rushdie was being introduced to give a talk to an audience of hundreds on artistic freedom when a man rushed to the stage and lunged at the novelist, who has lived with a bounty on his head since the late 1980s.
Horrified attendees rushed to his aid with pictures from the scene showing Rushdie lying on the stage as a crowd surrounded him.
Blood could be seen splattered across a screen in the lecture theatre and a chair Rushdie was sitting on.
Iran’s dictatorship has celebrated the horror attack – branding Rushdie an “apostate” and “heretic” as they praised his attacker for “tearing neck of the enemy of God with a knife”.
More than 30 years ago, the regime called for Rushdie to be murdered – forcing him into hiding.
Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now Mumbai, before moving to the UK, has long faced death threats for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses.
It was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations upon its 1988 publication.
A few months later, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling upon Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in the book’s publication for blasphemy.
Rushdie, who called his novel “pretty mild,” went into hiding for nearly a decade.
Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the novel, was murdered in 1991.
The Iranian government said in 1998 it would no longer back the fatwa, and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years.
Iranian organisations, some affiliated with the government, have raised a bounty worth millions of dollars for Rushdie’s murder.
And Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said as recently as 2019 that the fatwa was “irrevocable.”
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency and other news outlets donated money in 2016 to increase the bounty by $600,000 (£500,000).
Hadi Matar was accused of attempted murder and assaultCredit: Reuters
Matar pleaded not guiltyCredit: AP
Stains of what is believed to be blood are marked behind a screen where Rushdie was seatedCredit: AP
The author was airlifted to hospitalCredit: EPA
Matar was arrested after being tackled to the ground at the eventCredit: Twitter
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