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Novelist Salman Rushdie attacked while on stage in New York

British author Salman Rushdie speaks as he presents his book "Quichotte" at the Volkstheater in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2019. [HERBERT NEUBAUER/APA/AFP via Getty Images]
British author Salman Rushdie speaks as he presents his book "Quichotte" at the Volkstheater in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2019. [HERBERT NEUBAUER/APA/AFP via Getty Images]

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born novelist who suffered years of death threats as a result of his writing, was attacked on stage at an event in New York, a witness told Reuters.

A man rushed to the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state and attacked Rushdie as he was being introduced, the witness said, adding the attacker was subsequently restrained.

Rushdie's condition was not immediately known.

"We are dealing with an emergency situation. I can share no further details at this time," a Chautauqua Institution spokesperson said when contacted by Reuters.

Rushdie, who was born into an Indian Muslim family, has faced death threats for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims said contained blasphemous passages. The novel was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations upon its 1988 publication.

A year later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling upon Muslims to kill the novelist for blasphemy.

Iran later backed away from the order and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years.

Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution to take part in a discussion about the United States serving as asylum for writers and artists in exile and "as a home for freedom of creative expression," according to the institution's website.

The Wylie Agency, which represents Rushdie, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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