Famed author Salman Rushdie, who has endured death threats from extremists for decades, was stabbed Friday before a scheduled lecture in western New York, according to state police.
A man stormed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution, about 70 miles south of Buffalo, at about 11 a.m. and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer, New York State Police Maj. Eugene J. Staniszewski said in a statement.
“Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known,” according to the statement.
The interviewer suffered a minor head injury, officials said.
A state trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. His name was not released.
The Associated Press said one of its reporters witnessed the attack on Rushdie, best known for “The Satanic Verses,” which has been banned in Iran and considered by some Muslims to be blasphemous.
NBC News has reached out to his representatives for comment.
PEN America, a New York City-based nonprofit group that defends literary freedom, said it’s “deeply concerned” about the attack on Rushdie, a former group president.
“PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at the word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie,” according to a statement from PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.
“We can think of no comparable incident of a public attack on a literary writer on American soil. Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning, Salman had emailed me to help with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of safe refuge from the grave perils they face. Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Daniel Arkin, Abigail Russ, Matthew Johnson, Cristian Santana, Brittany Kubicko and Janhvi Bhojwani contributed.