According to Salman Rushdie, "To understand a single life, you have to swallow the world."
Just a couple of weeks ago he gave an interview to the German magazine Stern. "My existence is relatively normal," he stressed in that conversation. He had left behind that decade in which he was hidden in London by the British government due to the threats posed by the publication in 1988 of The Satanic Verses.
The Magazine described Rushide as arriving looking relaxed, unprotected. The author, born in Bombay in 1947, confessed that the fatwa, the death sentence issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, was already far behind him.
At 75 years old – of which about thirty have lived under the threat of intolerance – he continues in critical condition in the hospital in Erie (Pennsylvania), after being repeatedly stabbed during a literary event held on Friday in Chautauqua, at northwestern New York state. In the room there was an audience of 2,500 people.
Rushdie remained hospitalized with serious injuries, but his friend, author Aatish Taseer, tweeted in the evening that he was "off the ventilator and talking, even joking." Rushdie's agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed that information without offering further details.
Hadi Matar, 24, a resident of Fairview, New Jersey, was charged this Saturday with attempted murder and assault. The quick reaction of the public facilitated the containment and arrest of him. He remained detained, without bail, waiting for the investigators to understand his life once they “swallow the world”.
“We have been in contact with our colleagues in New Jersey to share information and for them to help us better understand the planning and preparation that preceded the attack, so that we and the various agencies involved can determine what further charges, if any, should be made. ”, said the Chautauqua County District Attorney. Before the judge, Matar pleaded "not guilty" to those charges. The prosecutor said that the accused traveled by bus with the premeditated idea of attacking his target. He stabbed her ten times (three to the neck and four to the stomach).
Although the Tehran regime lifted the fatwa in 1998, a three million reward offered by a semi-official religious foundation remained on Rushdie's head. Until now it is known that the aggressor was born in California, of parents of Lebanese origin, who emigrated to the United States from Yarum, near the southern border of their country. Matar recently moved to New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
He agreed with his ticket like any other spectator to the literary event in favor of writers and artists in exile because they are persecuted, an issue in which Rushdie has always been involved.
In the stalls, Kathleen Jones saw the race of that man dressed in black, with a black mask. “We thought it was part of a simulation to show that there is still a lot of controversy surrounding this author. We saw in seconds that it wasn't this," he told NBC.
Investigators are trying to determine the motive for the attack and obtained permits to investigate the backpack that Matar left in the compound, as well as his home. In a first police check, his social media accounts showed that he was a sympathizer of Shia extremism and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In some media it was noted that on his phone they found photos of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian division general who was mortally hunted by the US in 2020.
António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations Organization, remarked this Saturday that he was horrified by this attack on the novelist and essayist who decades ago became the symbol of freedom of expression in the face of repression. "In no case - she maintained in a statement - is violence the response to the words spoken or written by others in the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression."
The Iranian mission to the United Nations (UN) did not respond to requests for comment. In Iran, while there was no official reaction, Reuters reported, several hardline Iranian newspapers heaped praise on Matar. In the daily Kayhan , whose director is appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, they wrote: "Thousand applause for the brave and obedient who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York." And they added that "the hand of the man who tore the neck of the enemy must be kissed." In the midst of other information of this depth, the Khorasan titled "Satan, road to hell."
In Tehran, the Associated Press reported, citizens praised the attack on the writer as "tarnishing the Islamic faith" and others expressed concern about possible reprisals. Totally contrary to what happened in the West, where authors, activists or government leaders condemned this aggression. Rushdie was described as a defender of free speech despite putting his own life at risk.
Both the White House and the British Prime Minister deplored this violence. His good friend Ian McEwan called him an "inspiring advocate for the world's persecuted writers and journalists."