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Wednesday, August 17, 2022 – The moderator who was injured on stage when Sir Salman Rushdie was attacked has revealed his gruesome eye injury as he spoke publicly for the first time since the horrific stabbing.
Henry Reese sustained severe bruising and a minor cut to his eye while holding down the legs of Hadi Matar, 24, who stormed the stage and stabbed The Satanic Verses author multiple times in Chautauqua in New York.
Mr Reese, a former telemarketing entrepreneur from Pittsburgh who founded the City of Asylum as a haven for persecuted writers, told the Atlantic: “This is a very bold attack against the core values of freedom and ways of resolving differences short of violence, with art, literature, journalism.”
Asked how he was doing after the incident, Mr Reese told the BBC: “I’m doing well, everything is proceeding – I’m doing quite well.
“I think our concern is for Salman, and I mean that for himself, but also what he means in the world.”
Asked what the incident meant for the importance of Sir Salman’s values, Mr Reese added: “There couldn’t be anything more vivid in its materialisation of our values.
“Our mission is to protect writers who are in sanctuary and to see Salman Rushdie assaulted for his life is unimaginably… it’s hard to describe what it is to see that happen in front of you.”
Sir Salman suffered severe, life-changing injuries and underwent emergency surgery but he is now believed to be awake and helping police with their investigations.
The author suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye but was taken off a ventilator on Saturday, August 13.
The stabbing comes 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the supreme leader of Iran, issued a fatwa that ordered Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie because of his novel “The Satanic Verses”.
Following Rushdie’s stabbing by an “Iran sympathiser”, Iran denied involvement in the attack but justified it.
Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told journalists: “We, in the incident of the attack on Salman Rushdie in the US, do not consider that anyone deserves blame and accusations except him and his supporters.
“Nobody has the right to accuse Iran in this regard.
“We believe that the insults made and the support he received was an insult against followers of all religions.”
Sir Salman’s attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to charges stemming from the assault and is due to appear in a US court on Friday, August 19.