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The award winning novelist Salman Rushdie has been attacked in New York.
He was stabbed in the neck while sitting on stage just as he was about to give a speech.
The assailant was detained after rushing towards the 75-year-old and knifing him. He has been taken into custody.
Sir Salman was flown to hospital and is being operated on, according to his agent.
Video footage taken inside the auditorium captured chaotic scenes as people rushed onto the stage to help the author.
New York governor Kathy Hochul told a press conference ‘he is alive, he has been airlifted to safety’.
A witness told The New York Times he appeared to have been stabbed multiple times but had a pulse.
Pictures from the scene showed him being given medical attention by members of the audience.
The incident happened at the Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, which hosts a summer lecture series.
The interviewer suffered a ‘minor head injury’ and a New York state trooper ‘assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody’.
A venue spokesperson said: ‘We are dealing with an emergency situation. I can share no further details at this time.’
While the attacker’s motive remains unclear at this stage, the author has been a target for Islamists ever since he released the novel The Satanic Verses.
Lauded by critics, the 1988 book, which was partly influenced by the life of Mohammed, was attacked by authoritarian Muslims leaders, most notably the Iranian ayatollah.
In 1989, the late Ruhollah Khomeini ordered his followers to kill Sir Salman, a pronouncement which meant he required 24/7 police protection.
He spent years in hiding after the order was made and police have uncovered several plots on his life.
While no longer officially backed by the Iranian government, the country’s supreme leader has never withdrawn the fatwa.
A bounty of over $3 million has also been offered for anyone who kills the author.
In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
He has also previously been dubbed a target by Al Qaeda.
After years of living behind stringent security measures, the writer has been able to lead a relatively open life in more recent times.
The affair led to a high profile debate about freedom of speech in Britain.
When he was attacked, Sir Salman was about to be interviewed on the topic of ‘the United States as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression’.
He was born in India and moved to Britain as a schoolboy.
He would go on to become one of the most respected writers of his era, winning the Booker Prize in 1981 for Midnight’s Children.
In 2007, he was knighted for services to literature.
He released a memoir in 2012 about his life in the years following the fatwa titled Joseph Anton, the fake name he would use to avoid detection while in hiding.