Salman Rushdie stabbed onstage at New York state event

Author Salman Rushdie has been attacked onstage at an event in New York state and stabbed in the neck, police have confirmed.

Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked on Friday morning as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin assaulting Rushdie as he was being introduced. The author was taken or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained and taken into custody.

A statement from New York state police released about an hour after the incident said that Rushdie suffered “an apparent stab wound to the neck”. He was immediately transported by helicopter to a hospital in the area, though his condition was “not yet known”.

Photos taken by an Associated Press reporter show Rushdie lying on his back, with a first responder crouched over him. The author’s legs were being held up above his chest, presumably to keep blood flowing to heart.

Rushdie’s interviewer was also attacked and suffered a minor head injury, police said.

The assault happened shortly before 11am at the Chautauqua Institution near Erie in western New York state. Rushdie, author of 14 novels, had been invited to talk about the importance of the US offering asylum for writers and other artists in exile.

Eyewitness reports said that a man wearing a black mask rushed onstage and began to attack Rushdie as he was sitting on the stage. Paula Voell, a retired journalist, told the Buffalo News that it was quickly apparent that an assault had taken place.

“We saw the man race a few steps across the stage and there was horror – the whole audience reacted, and probably 15 spectators raced on to the stage to try to attend to him, or so it seemed,” she said.

Phone footage captured moments after the attack shows audience members scrambling on to the stage to help. Gasps are heard around the auditorium as members of the public immediately evacuate the space.

Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous.

A year later, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

A bounty of more than $3m has also been offered for anyone who kills Rushdie.

Iran’s government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment lingered.

In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8m to $3.3m.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the reward.

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