Salman Rushdie recovering without ventilator as police investigate threat to J.K. Rowling

Salman Rushdie makes an appearance at a book signing in Coral Gables, Fla., in July 2008. File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI
1 of 2 | Salman Rushdie makes an appearance at a book signing in Coral Gables, Fla., in July 2008. File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses stabbed multiple times Friday, is recovering from his wounds and has been removed from a ventilator as police said they are investigating a threat to fellow author J.K. Rowling.

Zafar Rushdie, the author's son, said in a statement Sunday that his father "remains in critical condition" and continues to receive "extensive ongoing medical treatment" in the hospital.


"We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words," Zafar Rushdie said.

"Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remains intact.

"We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defense and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world."


Rushdie, 75, was stabbed at 10:47 a.m. Friday while he was being introduced onstage before his scheduled lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Hadi Matar, 24, was arrested at the scene and pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault on Saturday.

The author, who has a bounty on his head from Iranian religious leaders dating to the 1980s, suffered three stab wounds to the right side of his neck and four to the stomach among other wounds and was placed on a ventilator.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the hit Harry Potter series, tweeted about the attack on Rushdie on Friday, writing that she felt "very sick right now."

"Don't worry you are next," a Twitter user under the name Meer Asif Asiz replied, according to screenshots shared by Rowling seeking support from the social media site.

The tweet appears to have since been removed but Asiz's account on Sunday wrote that their account was recovered "after heavy reports."

"How can a person living in Pakistan give threats to person living in UK, this is so disgusting, my that comment was just an indication of the Muslims may be living in UK," the account tweeted.


Rowling later said that "police are involved" and a spokesperson for Police Scotland confirmed to The Guardian that investigators had "received a report of an online threat being made."

Warner Bros. Discovery, the company behind the film adaptations of the Harry Potter series and its spin-off series Fantastic Beasts, issued a statement saying the entertainment giant "strongly condemns" the threats made against Rowling.

"We stand with her and all the authors, storytellers and creators who bravely express their creativity and opinions," the statement reads.

"WBD believes in freedom of expression, peaceful discourse and supporting those who offer their views in the public arena.

"Our thoughts are with Sir Salman Rushdie and his family following the senseless act of violence in New York. The company strongly condemns any form of threat, violence or intimidation when opinions, beliefs and thoughts might differ."

Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses was banned in Iran in 1988 and considered sacrilegious by some Muslims. In 1989, the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, offering $3 million for Rushdie's death.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Tehran University who acts as a spokesperson amid the Iran nuclear deal talks in Vienna, said Friday that he "won't be shedding tears for a writer who spouts endless hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam."


"But isn't it odd that as we near a potential nuclear deal, the U.S. makes claims about a hit on Bolton and then this happens?" Marandi said.

Iran's hardline conservative newspaper Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, praised the attack on Rushdie.

"Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York," the newspaper wrote.

"Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife."

President Joe Biden on Saturday joined world readers in commenting on the knife attack on Rushdie, saying he was "shocked and saddened" to learn of the stabbing.

"Salman Rushdie -- with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced -- stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear," Biden said in his statement.

"These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression."


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