JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A New Jersey resident has been identified as the man who allegedly stabbed a speaker at the Chautaqua Institution on Friday.
24-year-old Hadi Matar is in custody at the New York State Police barracks just outside of Jamestown after allegedly attacking Salman Rushdie, the author of novel “The Satanic Verses”, which previously drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s.
Rushdie was stabbed in the neck as he was about to give a lecture.
A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was flown to UPMC Hamot Hospital. Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who was among those who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.”
Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. Reese suffered a facial injury and was treated and released from a hospital, police said. He and Rushdie were due to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.
A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s lecture, and state police said the trooper made the arrest. But after the attack, some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given the decades of threats against Rushdie and a bounty on his head offering more than $3 million for anyone who kills him.
Matar, like other visitors, had obtained a pass to enter the institution’s 750-acre grounds, President Michael Hill said.
The suspect’s attorney, public defender Nathaniel Barone, said he was still gathering information and declined to comment. Matar’s home was blocked off by authorities.
Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes, and the literary world recoiled at what novelist and Rushdie friend Ian McEwan described as “an assault on freedom of thought and speech.”