New York: Acclaimed author Salman Rushdie remained hospitalized on Saturday with serious injuries a day after he was repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in New York state, 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, his court-appointed lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, told Reuters.
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 in an email.
Wylie did not respond to messages requesting updates on Rushdie's condition on Saturday.
The stabbing was condemned by writers and politicians around the world as an assault on freedom of expression.
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, according to NBC New York.
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.
Bounty on his head
Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now 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.
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."
(With inputs from agencies)