Salman Rushdie, the celebrated yet controversial 75-year-old author, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen, Friday, while on stage to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. The police have identified the assailant as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairview, New Jersey, and the individual is currently in their custody but will only be charged depending on Rushdie’s condition. 

Matar is believed to have Iranian sympathies, and his Facebook profile – which has since been taken down – was peppered with images of Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued the 1989 fatwa against Rushdie. 

Hadi Matar’s Facebook profile, prior to being taken down. (Photo Credit: Twitter/Shayan86)

The order to have Rushdie killed was issued as a result of his 1988 book, The Satanic Verses, which managed to anger many in the Muslim community. 

Khomeini’s official website, in 2017, confirmed that the fatwa was still in effect and in 2019, his office’s Twitter handle supported the fact, leading to its reach being limited on the social media platform. 

Khomeini’s message of the fatwa against Rushdie. (Photo Credit: Twitter/IranIntl_En)

Matar, when he was arrested, was found carrying a fake id. His driver’s license identified him as Mughniyah Hassan. 

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Mughniyah is the surname of a close ally of Qassem Soleimani and second-in-command of Lebanon’s Hezbollah – Imad Mughniyah. The Hezbollah leader was killed in 2008 in Syria.  

Hadi Matar’s driver’s license. (Photo Credit: Twitter/IranIntl_En)

Rushdie’s agent spoke to publications saying that the author was likely to lose an eye, and the condition was still serious. He’s also suffered nerve damage to an arm, as per reports. 

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Witnesses say a man in black got on the stage and started attacking Rushdie, who was tended to by a doctor at the event. Matar was apprehended by a State Trooper soon after the attack. 

Matar had a pass to the event and despite his inclinations – as evidenced by social media posts – a clear motive for his attack on Rushdie remains unknown.