Statement by President Joe Biden Hillary on attack on Salman Rushdie

Joe Biden says he is ‘saddened’ by ‘vicious’ stabbing of Salman Rushdie, as Hillary Clinton says she’s ‘horrified by the cowardly attack’ on the author at Buffalo literary event

  • Joe Biden on Saturday issued a statement hailing the author as standing ‘for essential, universal ideals’
  • President says author stands for ‘the ability to share ideas without fear’ 
  • Biden said he and Jill offered prayers to Rushdie, and he thanked those who came to writer’s aid after the stabbing, which left Biden ‘shocked and saddened’
  • Hillary Clinton tweeted: ‘I’m horrified by the cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie and praying for his speedy recovery’ 
  • Rushdie, 75, was at a literary festival hosted by the Chautauqua Institution to speak about how important it was for the US to give asylum to exiled writers
  • Authorities allege Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, rushed on stage and knifed Rushdie repeatedly before being tackled by spectators
  •  Rushdie suffered three stabs wounds to the right front of his neck, another four to his stomach, one each to his right eye and chest, and a cut to his right thigh

President Joe Biden has expressed his shock following the ‘vicious attack’ on Salman Rushdie adding that he is praying for his health and recovery. 

In his statement on Saturday evening he praised both first responders and Rushdie’s ‘refusal to be intimidated’. 

Biden said he was grateful to the brave individuals who ran to aid to the stricken author. 

‘Jill and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Salman Rushdie yesterday in New York. We, together with all Americans and people around the world, are praying for his health and recovery. I am grateful to the first responders and the brave individuals who jumped into action to render aid to Rushdie and subdue the attacker,’ Biden’s statement began.

‘Salman Rushdie—with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced—stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression,’ he added.

Joe Biden on Saturday issued a statement hailing the author as standing ‘for essential, universal ideals’

The president says author stands for ‘the ability to share ideas without fear’

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also took to Twitter to post a message of support at Rushdie’s recovery.

‘I’m horrified by the cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie and praying for his speedy recovery,’ Clinton began.

‘As he once wrote: ‘A poet’s work [is] to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep.’

On Friday, the White House had termed the attack on Rushdie as ‘appalling’ stressing how the Biden-Kamala Harris Administration was praying for a speedy recovery of the renowned author. 

Hillary Clinton tweeted: ‘I’m horrified by the cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie and praying for his speedy recovery’

Mrs Clinton also tweeted how she was praying for Rushdie’s speedy recovery

British-born Booker Prize winning author Sir Salman Rushdie (pictured in 2019) got death threats and was issued a fatwah by Iran for his 1988 novel, the Satanic Verses. He has lived in the U.S. since 2000 and was preparing to give a lecture about America being a haven for writers in exile

Rushdie remained hospitalized on Saturday with serious injuries while police sought to determine the motive behind an attack that drew international condemnation.

The accused attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, entered a not guilty plea at a court appearance on Saturday.

Rushdie, 75, was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at Chautauqua Institution in western New York when police say Matar rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer, who has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ prompted Iran to urge Muslims to kill him.

Following hours of surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak as of Friday evening, according to his agent, Andrew Wylie. 

The novelist was likely to lose an eye and had nerve damage in his arm and wounds to his liver, Wylie said.

The stabbing was condemned by writers and politicians around the world as an assault on freedom of expression.

Neither local nor federal authorities offered any additional details on the investigation on Saturday. Police said on Friday they had not established a motive for the attack.

An initial law enforcement review of Matar’s social media accounts showed he was sympathetic to Shi’ite extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), although no definitive links had been found.

The IRGC is a powerful faction that controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of carrying out a global extremist campaign.

The authors suspected attacker was pinned down by witnesses and security staff moments after the attack on Friday 

People rushed to assist the author after the attack, with the attacker being restrained by witnesses.  The motive for the stabbing is currently unknown

Asked to comment on the case, Matar’s lawyer Barone said, ‘We’re kind of in the early stages and, quite frankly, in cases like this, I think the important thing to remember is people need to keep an open mind. They need to look at everything. They can’t just assume something happened for why they think something happened.’

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday, he said.

Matar was born in California and recently moved to New Jersey. He had a fake driver’s license on him. He was arrested at the scene by a state trooper after being wrestled to the ground by audience members.

Witnesses said he did not speak as he attacked the author. Rushdie was stabbed 10 times, prosecutors said during Matar’s arraignment.

The assault was premeditated; prosecutors said in court that Matar traveled by bus to Chautauqua Institution, an educational retreat about 12 miles from the shores of Lake Erie, and bought a pass that admitted him to Rushdie’s talk. Attendees said there were no obvious security checks.

FBI officials went to Matar’s last listed address, in Fairview, a Bergen County borough just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, on Friday evening.

Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Mumbai, before moving to Britain, has long faced death threats for The Satanic Verses viewed by some Muslims as containing blasphemous passages. The book was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations.

Hadi Matar, 24,  appeared in court on Saturday and was charged with attempted murder and second degree assault, after being moved from the New York State Police barracks in Jamestown after the attack on Friday

In 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to kill the author and anyone involved in the book’s publication for blasphemy. Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the novel, was stabbed to death in 1991 in a case that remains unsolved.

There has been no official government reaction in Iran to the attack on Rushdie, but several hardline Iranian newspapers praised his assailant.

Iranian organizations, some linked to the government, have raised a bounty worth millions of dollars for Rushdie’s murder. Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said as recently as 2019 that the fatwa was ‘irrevocable.’

Ali Tehfe, mayor of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, said Matar was the son of a man from the town. The suspect’s parents emigrated to the United States and he was born and raised there, the mayor added.

Asked whether Matar or his parents were affiliated with or supported the Iran-backed Hezbollah armed group in Lebanon, Tehfe said he had ‘no information at all’ on their political views.

A Hezbollah official told Reuters on Saturday that the group had no additional information on the attack on Rushdie.

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