Grand jury indicts Salman Rushdie’s alleged attacker

Jacket of Salman Rushdie’s latest book, Victory Ciry, which he was going to talk about when attached by Hari Matar at Chautaqua Institute. Photo Twitter @SalmanRushdie

A grand jury in western New York has indicted the man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie and leaving the renowned author with severe wounds and a long, uncertain recovery ahead, prosecutors announced Thursday August 18, 2022.

The indictment means the alleged attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, will be arraigned and move straight to trial rather than face a preliminary hearing to assess the evidence against him. The arraignment is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Chautauqua County Court in New York.

Rushdie has lived a mostly secretive life since 1989, when the late Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s leader, issued a religious decree calling for the author’s death. The declaration, known as a fatwa, raised grave concerns over the right to freedom of expression in much of the world.

Khomeini cited Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” as the reason for his decree, calling the work blasphemous. Earlier this week, the Iranian government denied involvement in the attack, and blamed the violence on Rushdie and his work.

Video of last Friday’s attack shows a man identified as Matar storming a lecture stage where Rushdie, who holds Indian, British and U.S. citizenship, was scheduled to speak at a writers conference. According to wire reports, Matar’s lawyer had not seen the charges to be filed against his client as of Thursday morning.

Rushdie, 75, remains in the hospital, beginning what his doctors have said will be a difficult recovery. He was stabbed multiple times in the stomach, neck and chest. And he may lose his right eye, authorities have said.

The host of the Chautauqua Institution event, Henry Reese, also was injured in the attack.

There has been no word about what may have motivated Matar, who is from Fairview, N.J., and holds U.S. and Lebanese citizenship, to allegedly attack Rushdie. The arraignment may provide more information, according to lawyers involved in the case.

In a recent interview from jail with the New York Post, Matar said of Rushdie, “I don’t like the person.”

“I don’t think he’s a very good person,” Matar said in the interview. “He’s someone who attacked Islam. He attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”



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