Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York

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Salman Rushdie attacked on stage in New York

CHAUTAUQUA, New York : Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 for his writing, was attacked on stage at an event in New York and suffered a stab wound to the neck, according to New York State Police and an eyewitness.

A man rushed to the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer as he was being introduced, an eye witness said. A State Trooper present at the event took the attacker into custody, police said.

Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital but his condition was not yet known, while the interviewer suffered a minor head injury, police said.

When contacted by Reuters, a Chautauqua Institution spokeswoman said that they were dealing with an emergency situation.

Rushdie fell to the floor when the man attacked him, and was then surrounded by a group of people holding up his legs, seemingly to send more blood to his upper body, as he was restrained, according to a witness who asked not to be named.

Rushdie, who was born into an Indian Muslim family, has faced death threats for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims said contained blasphemous passages. The novel was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations after it was published in 1988.

A year later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa or religious edict calling for Muslims to kill the novelist for blasphemy.

Rushdie went into hiding for many years. Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years, despite the Iranian government backing away from the order. Iranian organizations, however, have raised millions of dollars in bounty for Rushdie's murder.

Rushdie was in the Chautauqua Institution to take part in a discussion about the United States serving as asylum for writers and artists in exile and as a home for the freedom of expression, according to the institution's website.

The Wylie Agency, representing Rushdie, didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.