Salman Rushdie was 'pounded' during stabbing attack in New York, witness says
- Author Salman Rushdie was repeatedly pounded during a stabbing attack that unfolded on Friday, a witness said.
- "It was really jarring," Rabbi Charles Savenor who witnessed the attack in New York told Insider.
Author Salman Rushdie was repeatedly pounded during a stabbing attack that unfolded on Friday just as he was set to give an on-stage lecture in New York, a witness told Insider.
The 75-year-old had just been called on stage at the Chautauqua Institution and was about to interviewed when the attacker suddenly ran up on the stage and "began to beat and pound" Rushdie, said witness Rabbi Charles Savenor.
"There was applause … and as soon as [Rushdie] sat down someone ran onto the stage and began to beat and pound Mr. Rushdie," said Savenor, the executive director of the Civic Spirit organization.
The man who jumped onto the stage "was pounding" Rushdie as he sat on a chair, causing him to fall to the floor, Savenor recalled, adding, "It was really jarring."
New York State Police said that both Rushdie and the interviewer were attacked and that Rushdie was apparently stabbed in the neck.
Rushdie, who was born in India, was taken by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition was not immediately known.
The interviewer was left with a minor head injury, authorities said.
The attack lasted about 45 seconds, Savenor estimated.
Authorities quickly took the suspect into custody. Police haven't released the suspected attacker's name or a possible motive.
Savenor said that the incident left those in the amphitheater, which was filled with more than 1,000 attendants, "shocked, surprised and dismayed."
"It all happened very quickly," he said. "It was a man who ran very fast."
Within three minutes after the attack, the amphitheater was evacuated and Savenor said he overheard people on the way out saying "they've never seen anything like this whatsoever."
The motive for the attack was not immediately clear.
In 1989, Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death over his book "The Satanic Verses." The book was banned in Iran.
"I don't know if this is a delayed reaction to the fatwa," Savenor told Insider. "But I do know that that pounding on the stage, reverberated beyond the stage to the people in the auditorium, and now the whole world is talking about this."
The rabbi added, "It's a really sad state of affairs."
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