Salman Rushdie is off fan and starting to recover

Author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed about 10 times on Friday, was taken off a ventilator and is on the mend, his agent said Sunday.

“The road to recovery has begun,” Andrew Wylie, the agent, said in a text message. “It’s going to be a long time; the injuries are serious, but his condition is going in the right direction.

Mr. Rushdie, who had spent decades under Iranian proscription, was attacked on stage minutes before giving a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted second degree murder and assault with a weapon.

In court on Saturday, prosecutors said the attack on the perpetrator was premeditated and targeted. Mr. Matar traveled by bus to the intellectual retreat and bought a pass that allowed him to attend the lecture that Mr. Rushdie was due to give on Friday morning, according to prosecutors.

Nathaniel Barone, public defender, pleaded not guilty on his behalf. Mr Matar has been held without bond and his next court appearance is scheduled for Friday at 3pm.

Mr Rushdie had been put on a ventilator the night he was attacked, after enduring hours of surgery at a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania. Mr Wylie said at the time that Mr Rushdie was at risk of losing an eye, his liver had been damaged and the nerves in his arm were severed.

On Sunday, Mr Rushdie’s son, Zafar Rushdie, said his father remained in critical condition and was receiving intensive treatment. He said the author was able to say a few words.

“Although his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual fiery and provocative sense of humor remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie said in a statement. “We are very grateful to all members of the public who bravely stood up for him and administered first aid, as well as to the police and doctors who cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from the whole world.”

Mr Rushdie had been living under the threat of an assassination attempt since 1989, some six months after the publication of his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’. The book romanticized parts of the Prophet Muhammad’s life with depictions that offended some Muslims who believed the novel to be blasphemous. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran after its 1979 revolution, issued an edict known as a fatwa on February 14, 1989. He ordered Muslims to kill Mr Rushdie.

Friday’s attack happened at a center dedicated to learning and reflection. A video on TikTok which was later taken down showed the chaotic scene moments after the striker jumped onto the stage at the normally placid institution. Mr Rushdie, who was living relatively openly after years of semi-clandestine existence, had just sat down to give a lecture when a man attacked him.

A crowd of people immediately rushed to where the author was lying on stage to offer help. Stunned audience members could be seen throughout the amphitheater. While some were shouting, others were getting up and slowly walking towards the stage. People began to gather in the aisles. One person could be heard shouting “Oh my God” repeatedly.

Security at Chautauqua Institution is minimal. In its main amphitheatre, which regularly hosts popular concerts and celebrity speakers and where Mr Rushdie was to speak, there are no bag checks or metal detectors.

Little is known about Mr Matar, the man accused of the attack. At a house listed as his residence in Fairview, NJ, there was a car in the driveway, but the blinds were drawn and no one answered the door on Sunday.

Many of Mr Matar’s neighbors said they did not know him or his family, although some locals, when shown a picture of him, said they recognized him as someone who walked around the neighborhood with her head down, never making eye contact.

In Lebanon, the mayor of Yaroun, a village on the southern border with Israel, said Mr Matar’s father lived there and authorities had tried to reach him without success. The father lives in a stone house in the center of the village and takes care of herds of goats and sheep, said the mayor, Ali Tehfe.

“He refuses to see anyone or even open the door for us,” Mr Tehfe said in a phone interview, referring to Mr Matar’s father.

In Bell, California, just outside Los Angeles, Juana Gonzalez said Mr Matar had been childhood friends with his son Uriel when his family lived in the community, which has large Muslim and Hispanic populations. .

Ms Gonzalez said in an interview in Spanish that she had fond memories of Mr Matar. Her family keeps a large statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe locked in a glass box on their porch, and she said a young Mr. Matar understood their reverence.

“He was respectful of our Catholic religion,” Ms Gonzalez said. “That’s how I met him. That’s how my family knew him.

Hwaida Saadcontributed reporting from Beirut, Ana Facio-Krajcer of Bell, CA, and Olivia Bensimon of Fairview, NJ

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