Attacker of Salman Rushdie enters a not-guilty plea to attempted murder

On Saturday, the man accused of attacking Salman Rushdie at a literary event pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges. At the same time, the critically injured author appeared to be improving in hospital.

Hadi Matar, 24, was arrested in New York state court, with prosecutors detailing how Rushdie was stabbed around ten times in a planned, deliberate assault.

Rushdie was helicoptered to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery following the on-stage attack on Friday.

His agent, Andrew Wylie, had previously stated that the writer was on a ventilator and in danger of losing an eye. Still, in an update, he informed the New York Times that Rushdie had begun to speak again, implying that his condition had improved.

Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children, had gone into hiding for years after Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, demanded his assassination.
On Saturday, US President Joe Biden branded the attack “vicious” and prayed for Rushdie’s recovery.

“With his insight into people, his unrivaled sense of story, and his refusal to be intimidated or silenced, Salman Rushdie represents important, universal ideas.” Honesty. Bravery. “Resilience,” Biden stated in a statement.

Matar is being jailed without bail and has been charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault with a weapon. However, the police supplied no information about his background or what might have motivated him.

The death penalty is in effect.

The 75-year-old novelist has been effectively sentenced to death since 1989, when Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini issued a fatwa commanding Muslims to assassinate the writer.

The fatwa was issued in response to the release of the novel The Satanic Verses, which upset some Muslims who said it was blasphemous.

Rushdie moved to New York in the early 2000s and became a US citizen in 2016. Despite the ongoing threat to his life, he was increasingly seen in public, often without visible security.

The security at Friday’s event at the Chautauqua Institution, a lakeside hamlet near Buffalo that sponsors artistic programs, was not unusually tight.

According to witnesses, Rushdie was seated on stage and about to speak when Matar emerged from the audience and stabbed him before being pulled to the ground by staff and onlookers.

According to a Lebanese official, Matar’s family looks to be from the southern Lebanon village of Yaroun, even though he was born in the United States.

A correspondent for AFP who visited the village on Saturday was informed that Matar’s parents had split and that his shepherd father still resided there.

Journalists who attempted to enter his father’s residence were rejected.

Ali Qassem Tahfa, the head of the local municipality, told AFP that Matar was “born and raised in the United States.”