Salman Rushdie's sense of humour intact despite attack

Salman Rushdie's sense of humour intact despite attack

Salman Rushdie'sRushdie's son says his father's defiant sense of humour remains intact despite being in a critical condition after he was stabbed at a lecture in New York.

Rushdie's agent confirmed earlier that the author was removed from a ventilator and is on the road to recovery, two days after the attack, and is able to talk and joke.

Andrew Wylie cautioned that Rushdie's condition is headed in the right direction, but his recovery would be a long process.

Rushdie, 75, had a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and eye, which he had previously said, and was likely to lose the injured eye.

Although his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty sense of humour remains intact, Rushdie's son, Zafar Rushdie, said in a Sunday statement that the author remained in critical condition.

The statement on behalf of the family also expressed gratitude for the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence, police, doctors and the outpouring of love and support from around the world. Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty on Saturday to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a targeted, unprovoked, pre-planned attack at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat centre.

The attack was met with global shock and outrage, along with praise for the man who has weathered death threats and a US $3 million bounty on his head for The Satanic Verses Rushdie, who spent nine years in hiding under a British government protection program.

Authors, activists and government officials cited Rushdie's courage and long-time championing of free speech in the face of intimidation.

Writer and longtime friend Ian McEwan labelled Rushdie an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists and actor-author Kal Penn called him a role model for an entire generation of artists, especially many of us in the South Asian diaspora Salman Rushdie — with his insight into humanity, his refusal to be intimidated or silenced — stands for essential universal ideals, according to US President Joe Biden in a Saturday statement.

Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family and lives in Britain and the US, is known for his surreal and satirical prose beginning with his booker Prize-winning 1981 novel Midnight's Children, in which he sharply criticised India's then prime minister, Indira Gandhi.

Infused with magical realism, 1988's The Satanic Verses drew ire from some Muslims who viewed elements of the novel as blasphemy.

They believed that Rushdie insulted Muhammad by name a character called Mahound, a medieval corruption of Muhammad. The character was a prophet in a city called Jahilia, which in Arabic refers to the time before the advent of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula.

Another sequence has prostitutes that share names with some of Muhammad's nine wives. The novel also implies that Muhammad, not Allah, may have been the real author of the Quran.

The book had already been banned and burned in India, Pakistan and elsewhere when Iran's Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa or edict calling for Rushdie's death in 1989.

In the same year, Khomeini died, but the fatwa remains in effect - though Iran hadn't focused on Rushdie in recent years.

Iran's state-owned newspaper, Iran Daily, praised the attack as an implementation of divine decree on Sunday.

Another hardline newspaper, Kayhan, called divine revenge that would calm the anger of Muslims.