Salman Rushdie makes an appearance at a book signing in Coral Gables, Fla., in July 2008. File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI | License Photo
President Joe Biden on Saturday joined world readers in commenting on the knife attack of The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie in New York.
“Jill and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Salman Rushdie yesterday in New York,” Biden said in a statement.
Rushdie, 75, was stabbed around 10:47 a.m. on Friday while he was being introduced onstage before his scheduled lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.
Hadi Matar, 24, was arrested at the scene and has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.
The author, who has a bounty on his head from Iranian religious leaders dating to the 1980s, suffered three stab wounds to the right side of his neck and four to the stomach among other wounds and remained on a ventilator on Saturday.
“Salman Rushdie — with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced — stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear,” Biden said in his statement.
“These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also addressed the stabbing in a statement Friday and called the incident a “reprehensible attack.”
“Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling,” Sullivan said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement Friday that Rushdie “has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism” for 33 years.
“He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism,” Macron said. “His fight is our fight; it is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side.”
Boris Johnson, the outgoing British prime minister, said he was “appalled” that Rushdie was stabbed “while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.”
“Right now, my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay,” Johnson said.
Johnson was joined in commenting by Rishi Sunak, a conservative candidate to replace Johnson, who called Rushdie a “champion of free speech and artistic freedom.”
“The cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie is a strike on the freedom of expression that our world relies on,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
“No one should be threatened or harmed on the basis of what they have written. I’m wishing him a speedy recovery.”
Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Tehran University who acts as a spokesperson amid the Iran nuclear deal talks in Vienna, said on Twitter that he “won’t be shedding tears for a writer who spouts endless hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam.”
“But isn’t it odd that as we near a potential nuclear deal, the U.S. makes claims about a hit on Bolton and then this happens?” Marandi said.
Iran’s hardline conservative newspaper Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, praised the attack on Rushdie.
“Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York,” the newspaper wrote.
“Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife.”