Author Salman Rushdie attacked on stage

Author Salman Rushdie, who suffered years of Islamist death threats after writing The Satanic Verses, has been attacked on stage in New York state.

The Booker Prize winner was speaking at an event at the Chautauqua Institution at the time.

Witnesses say they saw a man run on stage and either punch or stab Mr Rushdie as he was being introduced.

A video posted online shows attendees rushing onto the stage immediately following the incident.

The attacker is said to have been restrained by those on the scene.

Police confirmed a stabbing but declined to immediately identify the victim, AFP news agency reports.

Mr Rushdie’s condition is not currently known.

The Indian-born novelist catapulted to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone.

But Mr Rushdie’s fourth book, in 1988 – The Satanic Verses – forced him into hiding for nine years.

The surrealist, post-modern novel sparked outrage among some Muslims, who considered its content to be blasphemous, and was banned in some countries.

A year after the book’s publication, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for Mr Rushdie’s execution and offered a $3m (£2.5m) reward.

Dozens of people died in the violence that followed its publication, including murdered translators of the work.

The bounty over Mr Rushdie’s head remains active, although Iran’s government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree.

The author, who has British and American citizenship, is a vocal advocate for freedom of expression and has defended his work on several occasions.

His appearance at the Chautauqua Institution event, in western New York, was the first in a summertime lecture series hosted by the non-profit.

A spokesman for the organisation’s on-site police department declined to comment when contacted by the BBC.

An artist at the venue said that rehearsals had been going as normal this morning until the attack inside its amphitheatre.

The venue has been on lockdown since, she said.

bbc.com