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Salman Rushdie expected to testify at stabbing trial in January - The Guardian

Author: The Guardian

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/oct/30/salman-rushdie-expected-to-testify-at-stabbing-trial-in-january

Image of Salman Rushdie expected to testify at stabbing trial in January - The Guardian

Salman Rushdie is expected to testify against the man charged with stabbing him on stage in New York state last year, during a trial set to take place in January.The Indian-born British-American author of novels including The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children is “on the people’s witness list right now heading into trial,” Chautauqua county district attorney Jason Schmidt said on Friday.This followed a court hearing in which the judge scheduled a trial for 8 January, reported AP.“I’ve already been in touch with representatives of Mr Rushdie to alert him that we anticipated that we would have this trial date so that we can start to prepare for it,” said Schmidt.On 12 August 2022, Rushdie was about to give a talk at the Chautauqua Institution when a man rushed on stage and stabbed the writer in the neck, eye, stomach, thigh and chest.He underwent treatment in hospital for six weeks, and has been left blinded in one eye with lost feeling in some fingertips.The alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, from New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault last year.“He’s maintained his innocence on the matter,” said his lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, according to CNN.“It’s not an easy situation for him, someone who’s never been in trouble before, ever.”Matar has been held in custody since the attack. If convicted he could face up to 25 years in prison for attempted murder, and seven for assault charges, a prosecutor said in court.Schmidt expects the trial to last two weeks or less, and said that the “biggest hurdle” is “going to be picking a fair and impartial jury”.The attack on Rushdie happened 33 years after Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in the aftermath of the publication of The Satanic Verses, which was deemed blasphemous.In a New York Post interview published days after the attack, Matar said that he respected Khomeini but would not say if his alleged actions had been influenced by the fatwa.He said that he had only “read a couple pages” of The Satanic Verses and had the idea to attend the Chautauqua event after seeing a tweet announcing that Rushdie would be there.Rushdie has made few public appearances since last August.Earlier this month, it was announced that Rushdie’s memoir about the attack, titled Knife, will be published next April.

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