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The suspect in an attack on author Salman Rushdie has been charged with attempted murder and attempted assault and is being held without bond, authorities in the western New York community where the attack occurred.

Hadi Matar, 24, was arraigned late Aug. 12 for attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault, New York State Police said in a statement. statement.

A lawyer for Matar pleaded not guilty on his behalf.

Jason Schmidt, the Chautauqua County District Attorney, said federal and state law enforcement are working on the investigation.

Matar, a New Jersey resident, was arrested at the scene. Investigators are working to understand the planning and preparation leading up to the attack and to determine if additional charges should be filed, Schmidt said.

Rushdie remained hospitalized on a ventilator with a damaged liver and nerve damage, his agent, Andrew Wylie, said. Wylie added that he was at risk of losing an eye.

Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after his novel The Satanic Verses received death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was attacked at the Chautauqua Institution, a spiritual retreat center in a rural southern corner -western New York State where he was to speak.

The center is known for its summer lecture series, where Rushdie has previously spoken.

The suspect stormed the stage as Rushdie was introduced and attacked him and moderator Henry Reese, New York State Police said in a statement.

Eyewitnesses said the attack lasted nearly 20 seconds, with Hatar allegedly continuing to punch and stab Rushdie even as onlookers rushed to restrain him. Reese suffered a minor head injury.

There was no official reaction to the attack in Iran, but several radical newspapers praised the attacker.

“A thousand cheers…to the courageous and dedicated person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York”,
writes the Kayhan newspaper, whose editor was appointed by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “The hand of the man who tore the neck of the enemy of God must be kissed.”

Satanic verses have been banned in Iran as many Muslims consider them blasphemous. A year after it was published in 1988, then Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death.

The Iranian government distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment persisted. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie, who was forced into hiding for many years because of the fatwa, dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was no evidence people were interested in the reward.

In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the book’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times and survived.

Khamenei never issued his own fatwa to revoke the edict, although Iran in recent years has not focused on the writer.

Rushdie was at the Chautauqua Institution to participate in a discussion about the United States serving as a haven for exiled writers and artists and “as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the institution’s website.

US President Joe Biden condemned the “vicious attack” and praised Rushdie for his “refusal to be bullied or silenced”.

In an Aug. 13 statement, Biden said he and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, “along with all Americans and people around the world, pray for his health and recovery.”

He added that Rushdie “represents essential and universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the attack was an attack on freedom of expression.

“No one should be threatened or harmed based on what he wrote. I wish him a speedy recovery,” Trudeau said in a statement. Tweeter.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also condemned the attack.

“What a despicable act,” Scholz said on Twitteradding that he wished the author courage for his recovery.

“The world needs people like you who aren’t intimidated by hate and who fearlessly stand up for free speech,” he said.

Born in Mumbai, India, Rushdie holds British and American citizenship and has lived in New York since 2000, according to Politico.

With reports from AP and Reuters