Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
alert-–-brave-salman-rushdie-will-be-back-on-our-tv-screens-for-interview-in-‘big-bbc-film’-about-‘islamist’-knife-attack-in-new-york-that-left-author-blind-in-one-eye-–-less-than-two-years-after-stabbingAlert – Brave Salman Rushdie will be back on our TV screens for interview in ‘big BBC film’ about ‘Islamist’ knife attack in New York that left author blind in one eye – less than two years after stabbing

Sir Salman Rushdie is set to give his first full-scale TV interview since cheating death following a savage knife attack in New York almost two years ago.

The novelist, 76, has agreed to a sit-down that will form part of a ‘big BBC film’ set to examine the fateful attack carried out by alleged Islamist extremist Hadi Matar, 24, in August 2022.

Matar’s savagery cost Rushdie his left eye and the use of one hand, and left him with 15 wounds to his chest and three to his arm. The alleged attacker, from New Jersey, is due to stand trial on an attempted murder charge which he denies.

But Rushdie – still the subject of a fatwa issued by Iran in 1989 – is refusing to let those who would see him dead keep him down, writing a new book on the attack as well as preparing to film the interview with ex-BBC man Alan Yentob.

Mr Yentob, a long-term friend of the scribe, says the interview continues Rushdie’s ongoing of defiance against those who want him dead.

Sir Salman Rushdie at the Centre for Fiction 2023 annual awards gig in New York last December. Rushdie is set to give his first in-depth interview about the 2022 attack that almost killed him

Sir Salman Rushdie at the Centre for Fiction 2023 annual awards gig in New York last December. Rushdie is set to give his first in-depth interview about the 2022 attack that almost killed him

Rushdie was attacked on stage at the Chautauqua Institution in New York by alleged Islamist extremist Hadi Matar in August 2022 (pictured: medics attending to the author)

Rushdie was attacked on stage at the Chautauqua Institution in New York by alleged Islamist extremist Hadi Matar in August 2022 (pictured: medics attending to the author)

Rushdie, pictured with a copy of The Satanic Verses. The book's references to Islam were seen by some as blasphemous and resulted in a 'kill order' being issued by Iran's leader

Rushdie, pictured with a copy of The Satanic Verses. The book’s references to Islam were seen by some as blasphemous and resulted in a ‘kill order’ being issued by Iran’s leader

The interview will form part of a 'big BBC film' on the attack being made by Alan Yentob (pictured here with Rushdie in March 2022, five months before the attack)

The interview will form part of a ‘big BBC film’ on the attack being made by Alan Yentob (pictured here with Rushdie in March 2022, five months before the attack)

Hadi Matar, the alleged Islamist extremist who attacked Salman Rushdie. He is due to stand trial on a charge of murder, which he denies

Hadi Matar, the alleged Islamist extremist who attacked Salman Rushdie. He is due to stand trial on a charge of murder, which he denies

Mugshots released by the Chautauqua County Jail show Matar as he was detained in New York

Mugshots released by the Chautauqua County Jail show Matar as he was detained in New York

For decades, the Booker Prize winner has lived his life with an open disregard of the kill order issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, then leader of Iran, and Mr Yentob told the Mail his friend was ‘adamant’ about never backing down. 

Speaking at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, at London’s Royal Horseguards Hotel, he said: ‘I am good friends with Salman. He is a strong character. He is adamant that he wants to keep going.’ 

Rushdie was made the subject of the fatwa after penning The Satanic Verses – a novel partly inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

READ MORE: Salman Rushdie makes surprise appearance at awards ceremony telling audience he kept his attendance under wraps until the last minute to ‘make life a little simpler’ 

Its religious references were criticised as blasphemic in some majority Muslim countries, where it was also banned, and a kill order was issued by Iran’s ayatollah against Rushdie and anyone else involved in the book’s publication.

The fatwa led to a breakdown in UK-Iran relations and Rushdie himself went into police protection for nine years. He has denied that the book is blasphemous towards Islam, or anti-religion.

After the order was issued, he spent much of his time in Britain at a fortified safe house equipped with bulletproof glass, bombproof curtains and lodging for six plain-clothes officers, each armed with a handgun.

‘I was with him on the night the fatwa was issued,’ remembers Yentob, 77, who added that his film, to be shown on the BBC by the end of this month, ‘will be based around’ Rushdie’s new memoir, Knife: Meditations After An Attempted Murder.

It will cover both the attack and his recovery from it. Rushdie has described his new book as ‘a way to take charge of what happened and to answer violence with art’.

Rushdie was not the only subject of attacks: Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was stabbed to death in 1991 and his murder has never been solved.

In 2000, Rushdie relocated to the US following several threats to his life – and in 2022, as he prepared to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, Hatar lunged at him with a knife, dealing irreversible damage.

Following the attack Rushdie was flown to hospital and underwent surgery – and was kept on a ventilator with a damaged liver and severed nerves in his arm.

He was taken off of the ventilator a day after the attack and was able to speak – but his recovery has been protracted, with several months going by before he was seen in public again.

He was knighted for services to literature in 2007, and last May was made a Servant of the Companions of Honour.

Sir Salman said it was a 'great honor' to be recognized for a 'lifetime' of work and described Princess Anne as 'very generous' as he was made a Servant of the Companions of Honour

Sir Salman said it was a ‘great honor’ to be recognized for a ‘lifetime’ of work and described Princess Anne as ‘very generous’ as he was made a Servant of the Companions of Honour

The writer has made only a handful of public appearances since the August 2022 attack - including here at a book awards in Frankfurt, Germany alongside wife Rachel Eliza Griffiths

The writer has made only a handful of public appearances since the August 2022 attack – including here at a book awards in Frankfurt, Germany alongside wife Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini - who issued the fatwa against Rushdie and all those involved in the publication of The Satanic Verses

Late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini – who issued the fatwa against Rushdie and all those involved in the publication of The Satanic Verses

Reflecting on the attack, Sir Salman said in May: ‘I am pretty well recovered, which is why I’m able to be here. I had to wait a while.’

But the upcoming Yentob interview will be the first in-depth exploration of what happened during the attack, and how Rushdie has fared since.  

He previously wrote at length about the fatwa in his 2012 memoir ‘Joseph Anton’ – written, uniquely for a personal account, in the third person.

Alleged attacker Matar was found with a false driving license in the name of two Hezbollah commanders when he was seized after the attack on Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution.

His mother Silvana Fardos previously told the Mail her son changed from a popular, loving son to a moody religious zealot after visiting her ex-husband in the Hezbollah-controlled town of Yaroun, a mile from the Israeli border.

‘I was expecting him to come back motivated, to complete school, to get his degree and a job,’ she said from her home in Fairview, California.

‘But instead he locked himself in the basement. He had changed a lot, he didn’t say anything to me or his sisters for months.’

Matar denied acting on orders when arrested for the near-fatal attack on Rushdie.

At the time of the stabbing, law enforcement sources told The New York Post that an initial investigation suggested Matar is sympathetic to the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.