Padma Lakshmi is 'Worried and Wordless' After Ex-Husband Salman Rushdie was Stabbed On Stage

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Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie
Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Padma Lakshmi is hoping for "swift healing" for her ex-husband, author, Salman Rushdie, after he was stabbed by a man who rushed the stage as Rusdhie was about to give a lecture at western New York's Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center.

Lakshmi, who was married to Rushdie from 2004 to 2007, took to Twitter Sunday morning to share a status update on the 75-year-old author after he was said to be in "critical condition" following the attack.

"Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday’s nightmare," The Top Chef host tweeted. "Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing."

Also on Sunday, Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie of The Wylie Agency, told The Associated Press, that Rushdie remains hospitalized with serious injuries, but is "on the road to recovery." Wylie cautioned that although Rushdie’s "condition is headed in the right direction," his recovery would be a long process.

Rushdie's son, Zafar, also shared an update on his father's condition, in a statement shared on behalf of the Rushdie family Sunday.

"We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words," he tweeted.

"Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact," the statement continued. "We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defense and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world."

Rushdie was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery after the attack, the author was initially put on a ventilator and could not speak. Wylie said at the time that Rushdie was likely to lose an eye, adding that the nerves in his arm were "severed" and his liver was "stabbed and damaged." 

Police identified the attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. Matar was at the Chautauqua Institution where he attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree, New York State Police said in a statement Saturday. He was transported to Chautauqua County Jail and ultimately pled not guilty to his charges on Saturday, CNN reported, citing his public defender, Nathaniel Barone. The alleged assailant has refused bail and his next court appearance is now scheduled for Friday, the outlet added.

Matar was born in the United States to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun, a border village in southern Lebanon, Mayor Ali Tehfe told The Associated Press.

His birth was a decade after the publishing of The Satanic Verses -- Rushdie's 1988 novel that drew death threats from Iran's leader decades ago.

The motive for the attack was unclear, New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski said. 

An official from Iran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah told Reuters on Saturday the group doesn't "know anything" about the suspect and declined to comment.     

The Satanic Verses was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims, who saw the character as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. The book was banned in Iran, where the late leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie's -- who was born in India to a Muslim family -- death.

Iran's theocratic government and its state-run media assigned no rationale for Friday's assault. The White House's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meanwhile described the attack as "reprehensible" and said the Biden administration wished Rushdie a quick recovery.

"This act of violence is appalling," Sullivan said in a statement. "We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr. Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing."

"Our thoughts are with Salman & his loved ones following this horrific event," New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted after the attack.

Rushdie rose to prominence with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel "Midnight's Children," but his name became known around the world after The Satanic Verses.

Widely regarded as one of Britain's finest living writers, Rushdie was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor, a royal accolade for people who have made a major contribution to the arts, science or public life. Rushdie has since been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes, and the literary world.

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