Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, told The Associated Press he was “on the road to recovery” and “headed in the right direction.”
Wylie’s comments come hours after he shared that Rushdie was no longer on a ventilator, able to talk and was even joking with those visiting him in the hospital.
Still, a full recovery may not be a possibility. Wylie says he has nerve damage in his arm and liver damage. He was stabbed between 10 and 15 times.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the incident a “heinous attack” in a released statement.
While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the attack, I am reminded of the pernicious forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence,” Blinken said. “Specifically, Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life. This is despicable. The United States and partners will not waver in our determination to stand up to these threats, using every appropriate tool at our disposal.”
Rushdie’s son, Zafar Rushdie, tweeted his appreciation for the people who rushed the stage to help.
Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact. We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world. We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.Zafar Rushdie
The man accused of carrying out the attack, Hadi Matar, 24, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges. Prosecutors say Matar planned the stabbing and arrived to the Chautauqua Institution Friday armed and with a fake ID.
Rushdie has faced death threats for a book published in 1988, “The Satanic Verses.” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa, which compelled Muslims to kill Rushdie. It was rescinded a decade later when a new government took power, but a fatwa cannot be revoked under Islamic tradition.
The controversy surrounding the book centers on its depiction of the prophet Mohammad. It was a fictionalized portrayal, including actions that many considered blasphemous.
The threats to Rushdie’s life forced him into hiding for almost a decade, before slowly returning to public life in the 2000s. In 2007, he said the threats against him had become more rhetorical than real.
Still, the fatwa is a consideration in Matar’s court proceeding. He was ordered held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt argued a wealthy sympathizer could pay almost any price to get him out.
“Even if this court were to set a million dollars bail, we stand a risk that bail could be met,” Schmidt said.