Salman Rushdie’s interviewer, who was with him on stage last week when the author was stabbed, has spoken out to express his shock at what happened.
Henry Reese, who was the moderator at the event near Buffalo, New York and was also attacked, was visibly still suffering with deep bruising evident around his right eye. Reese was released from hospital soon after the attack, which saw Rushdie sustain critical injuries. He remains in hospital.
Reese told the BBC he was doing “quite well” himself, adding:
“Our concern is for Salman – both certainly for himself and also for what he means to the world. He’s important to the world.”
Reese spoke of the assault as being both an attack on Rushdie, and also on the mission espoused by the conference:
“There couldn’t be anything more vivid in its materialisation of our values.
“Our mission is to protect writers, and to see Salman Rushdie assaulted for his life is, it’s hard to describe what it is to see that happen in front of you. The writers in our program are in the audience watching this.”
Reese was asked if he would one day like to return to the conference and have the conversation with Rushdie that they were denied. He replied:
“That would be my ideal to do that, to see that happen and not be in any way impeded from doing what we set out to do, to show that these values will be defended and that they can be defended.”
Iran-supporting extremist Hadi Matar has been charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault. He had previously revealed in an interview that he had read two pages of The Satanic Verses, Rushdie’s novel that caused a fatwa to be placed on him in 1989, forcing him to go into hiding for many years.