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The man who was about to interview novelist Salman Rushdie when he was attacked and stabbed onstage in New York by a crazed knife-wielder reveals the injuries he suffered trying to defend the author.
Henry Reese, 73, spoke to the BBC on Tuesday evening, the New York Post reports. He was barely able to open his blackened right eye.
Rushdie, whose novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ drew death threats from the Iranian leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen on Friday by a man who rushed onto the stage as the author was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, about 55 years old. miles south of Buffalo.
“In addition to deep bruising around his eye, he had multiple stitches above a stab wound sustained while holding the legs of the man who burst onto the stage and repeatedly stabbed Rushdie” , reported the New York Post about Reese. The assailant has been identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. He was arrested at the scene and awaiting arraignment. Matar was born a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published. The motive for the attack was unclear, State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said.
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“I’m fine, everything’s going well, I’m doing pretty well,” he told the BBC from his home in Pittsburgh. “Our concern is for Salman. And I mean both certainly for himself, but also for what he means in the world. And he matters to the world.”
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A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was airlifted to hospital and underwent surgery. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator on Friday night, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and an eye he was at risk of losing. He has since been taken off a ventilator and is expected to survive.
“Our mission is to protect writers who are in sanctuary. And seeing Salman Rushdie assaulted for his life is unimaginable…it’s hard to describe what it’s like to see this happen in front of you,” Reese told the BBC.
The moderator hopes one day to finally be able to hold the planned conference, he told the BBC.
“It would be my ideal, to see that happen and not be prevented from doing what we set out to do. To show both that those values will be upheld and they can be upheld,” Reese said.
Rushdie’s 1988 novel was considered blasphemous by many Muslims, who saw one of its characters as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. Across the Muslim world, often violent protests erupted against Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family.
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An Iranian government official said on Monday that Tehran was not involved in recent attack on Rushdie.
Fox News’ Landon Mion and The Associated Press contributed to this report.