Salman Rushdie, the author of a sacrilegious anti-Islam book who has been in the hospital over serious stabbing injuries, is reportedly off the ventilator and his condition is improving.
“He’s off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun,” Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters on Sunday.
“It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”
One of Rushdie’s sons also confirmed reports that his father had been taken off the ventilator and “was able to say a few words.”
“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humor remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Rushdie was connected to a ventilator on Friday evening and could not speak after suffering serious injuries in a stabbing attack just before a lecture he was scheduled to give at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.
State Police identified the assailant as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from the nearby city of Fairview, New Jersey, noting that police are working with the FBI and local authorities to determine Matar’s motive.
On Saturday, he pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime.
Notably, Matar was born a decade after the publishing of Rushdie’s 1988 blasphemous novel – The Satanic Verses – which insulted Islam’s Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and drew widespread outrage and protests throughout the Muslim world.
Observers have hinted at a potential link between the incident and a conspiracy to foment Islamophobia in the West.
The Persian daily Javan on Sunday suggested that the attack on Rushdie may have been a plot hatched by the US.
“Maybe a young Muslim, who was not even born when Salman Rushdie wrote his satanic book, wanted revenge on him,” it said. “Another scenario is that the United States probably wants to spread Islamophobia around the world.”