Author Salman Rushdie, who has a multi-million-dollar bounty on his head, was stabbed on Friday while he was on stage readying to speak at an event in New York State on the US as the home of creative expression.
State Police said Rushdie, who appeared to have been stabbed in his neck, was flown by helicopter to a hospital from the remote education and spiritual centre in Chautauqua about 550 km from New York City, but did not disclose his condition.
The alleged assailant, who pushed him to the floor and attacked him, was taken into custody by a state police trooper who was there, police said.
The attacker’s identity was not immediately known.
An eyewitness told the Daily Beast that the attacker was “heavy set and wearing a black headpiece”.
The witness, Ward Pautler, said that he thought the attacker was “punching Rushdie, but then I realised he was stabbing him”.
Ironically, Rushdie was participating at the Chautauqua Institution in a “discussion of the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression”, according to the organisation’s website.
Following the publication in 1989 of his novel, “Satanic Verses”, which some Muslims considered blasphemous, the then Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death.
Various Iranian organisations put rewards of more than $3 million for killing the 75-year-old India-born writer.
Rushdie went underground with British government protection for several years and moved to the US in 2000 and has since been in public.
He escaped an assassination attempt in 1989 when a bomb went off at a London hotel where he was thought to be staying and demolished two floors of the building.
The Mujahidin of Islam group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Al Qaeda also put him on its hit list along with several literary and media figures it claimed insulted Islam.