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Salman Rushdie's ‘feisty and defiant’ humour intact: Son and NY Governor

Rushdie, 75, was taken off a ventilator on Saturday and could talk after he was stabbed on stage at a literary event in New York state on Friday.  (Paul Hackett/Reuters)Premium
Rushdie, 75, was taken off a ventilator on Saturday and could talk after he was stabbed on stage at a literary event in New York state on Friday.  (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

His son, Zafar Rushdie, said on Sunday that the family was extremely relieved that the best-selling author was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen on Saturday and he was able to say a few words.

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Salman Rushdie's son and the New York State Governor Zafar Rushdie on Monday said that the author is still critical but his usual "feisty and defiant" sense of humour remains intact. “The cowardly attack cannot silence a man with a pen."

Rushdie, 75, was taken off a ventilator on Saturday and could talk after he was stabbed on stage at a literary event in New York state on Friday.

On Sunday, Zafar commented that the family was “extremely relieved" that the best-selling author was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen on Saturday and he was able to say a few words.

“Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in a critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment," he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact," he told PTI.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul condemned the "cowardly attack", saying that a man with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen.

Hochul said on Sunday that the investigation into the attack was unfolding and underlined that she and her administration will not tolerate calls for violence, whether from foreign or domestic leaders.

“And I want it out there that a man with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen… I'll also say, tolerance will always prevail over hate, courage will always prevail over fear, and the pen will always prevail over the knife," she said to applause from the audience.

Hochul expressed her gratitude to the first responders, staff and crew at the institution and members of the audience who “saved" Rushdie's life.

“I could still see the trauma and pain in their faces that they're trying to figure out how something like this could happen in this place known for its healing, its tranquility, its harmony. But I will tell you the team that was on the ground here and the EMTs, the firefighters, and those who showed up and literally kept a man alive as they were transporting him, did an extraordinary job," she said.

Hochul said Rushdie has been subjected to “so much over his life" and is a symbol for all of “great courage".

Rushdie’s family also expressed gratitude to the audience members who bravely leapt to Rushdie's defence and administered first-aid after he was stabbed multiple times at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

The family thanked the police and doctors for their care. They also expressed gratitude for the “outpouring of love and support from around the world."

“We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family comes together at his bedside to support and help him through this time," the statement said.

Earlier, Rushdie's former wife and celebrated TV personality Lakshmi said in a tweet: “Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday’s nightmare. Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing."

Rushdie and Chennai-born Lakshmi married in 2004 and got divorced in 2007. Lakshmi, 51, who is herself an author and the host of the hit culinary TV show TopChef, was Rushdie’s fourth wife.

The New York Times reported that Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie said, “The road to recovery has begun. It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction."

Rushdie, who faced Islamist death threats for years after writing "The Satanic Verses", was stabbed by a 24-year-old New Jersey resident identified as Hadi Matar, the US national of Lebanese origin, on stage on Friday while he was being introduced at a literary event of the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York.

Rushdie was put on a ventilator after he was stabbed by Matar. Matar on Saturday pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a brief court appearance where he was denied bail.

Matar was charged with attempted murder and assault in the stabbing of Rushdie and he pleaded not guilty. He made his appearance in court, wearing a black-and-white striped jumpsuit and handcuffed.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt provided the details of Rushdie's injuries in court during Matar's arraignment on Saturday.

The author's injuries include three stab wounds to the right side of the front of his neck, four stab wounds to his stomach, a puncture wound to his right eye and chest, and a laceration on his right thigh, according to the county prosecutor.

“This was a targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack on Mr Rushdie," Schmidt alleged.

Matar faces up to 32 years if convicted of both charges, Schmidt said.

Rushdie lived in hiding and under police protection for years after late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put out a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death in retribution for his book The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie, the author of 14 novels, was knighted in 2007 for services to literature.

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