Updated | Salman Rushdie taken off ventilator, able to speak as suspect pleads not guilty

The author was stabbed on Friday whilst delivering a lecture in New York

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

Author Salman Rushdie has been taken off a ventilator and is able to talk again after he was stabbed on Friday in New York.

International media outlets reported that Rushdie was taken off a ventilator a day after the 75-year-old was stabbed at a public lecture in New York.

His agent, Andrew Wylie, said that the road to recovery has begun for Rushdie. "It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction," he said.

Whilst he was delivering a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, a man stormed the stage and began punching and stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. The author fell to the floor, and the man was restrained.

The suspect, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, was charged over the attack and pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. He was remanded in custody without bail.

Prosecutors said that Matar ran on stage and stabbed Rushdie at least 10 times in the face, neck and abdomen.

After the attack, his agent said that Rushdie will likely lose an eye. The nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged.

Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict, calling for Rushdie’s death and a bounty of over $3 million had also been offered for anyone who kills the author.

Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment lingered. In 2012, Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” about the fatwa.

Rushdie was a special guest of the 2020 Malta Book Festival and participated in a literary conversation with former prime minister Alfred Sant.

Rushdie has penned a handful of classic novels, influenced a generation of writers, and received a Queen’s Knighthood for his “services to literature, standing as both pop culture icon and one of the most thought-provoking proponents for free speech today”. 

Rushdie was a Booker Prize winner.