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(Photo courtesy of Alexander Baxevanis | CC BY 2.0)

Salman Rushdie’s memoir may delay trial of attacker

The trial of Salman Rushdie’s alleged attacker may be delayed until the author publishes his memoir about the incident.

In August 2022, Rushdie was being introduced for a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York when a man rushed onto stage, stabbing him several times and forcing him to stay in a hospital for six weeks as his injuries were treated. The attack left Rushdie blind in his right eye and with some lost feeling in his left hand.

On Tuesday, Chautauqua county judge David Foley said that Hadi Matar, the man charged with stabbing Rushdie, is entitled to see the memoir and any related materials as part of preparation for the trial. He gave Matar and defense attorney Nathaniel Barone until Wednesday to decide whether to delay the trial.

Barone spoke in favor of delaying the trial, but said he would consult with Matar.

“Every little note Rushdie wrote down, I get, I’m entitled to,” Barone said. “Every discussion, every recording, anything he did in regard to this book.”

Rushdie first announced the memoir, titled “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” in October, with a planned publication date of April 16. 

“‘Knife’ is a gripping, intimate, and ultimately life-affirming meditation on life, loss, love, art – and finding the strength to stand up again,” Penguin Random House’s website describes the memoir.

“This was a necessary book for me to write: a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” Rushdie said in a statement released by Penguin Random House upon the book’s announcement.

Rushdie’s representatives declined to provide the prosecutor with the manuscript, citing intellectual property rights. District Attorney Jason Schmidt likewise called its necessity into question, as the attack was recorded with many witnesses, and Rushdie himself could testify.

Rushdie indicated in July that he was of “two minds” about appearing to testify, on one hand wanting to see his attacker in court and on the other feeling he “just can’t be bothered.”

Matar, born in the U.S. to Lebanese parents, has been held without bail since his arrest immediately following the attack. In a New York Post interview, he said Rushdie “attacked Islam,” and praised late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – who in 1989 issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death, in response to the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses.” Matar did not indicate whether he was following the fatwa, and Iran has denied involvement in the attack.

Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 8.


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