Rushdie’s memoir discussing the stabbing incident may potentially cause a postponement of the accused attacker’s trial.
The court case of the individual accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie during a performance in 2022 could potentially be postponed due to the author’s intention to release a memoir recounting the event.
According to AP, during a pretrial conference on January 2nd, Judge David Foley of Chautauqua county ruled that Hadi Matar, the defendant in an attack case, has the right to review the memoir manuscript and any related materials in preparation for the trial. Jury selection is scheduled to commence on January 8th.
On August 12, 2022, Rushdie was scheduled to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state when an individual suddenly approached the stage and attacked the writer, injuring his neck, eye, stomach, thigh, and chest with a knife. He was hospitalized for six weeks and has suffered permanent blindness in one eye and loss of sensation in some fingertips as a result.
His memoir about the event, titled Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, is scheduled to be published on 16 April by Penguin. Foley gave Matar and his lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, until Wednesday 3 January to decide whether to delay the trial until they have a copy of the manuscript in advance or once it has been released in spring.
Barone expressed his preference for a postponement and mentioned that he would discuss it with Matar. He also stated that the scope of his request includes not only the book itself, but also all of Rushdie’s notes, discussions, recordings, and actions related to the book.
According to district attorney Jason Schmidt, Rushdie’s team refused to provide a copy of his memoir to the prosecutor, citing intellectual property rights. Schmidt also raised doubts about the relevance of the memoir’s contents in the trial, considering that the attack was witnessed by numerous people and Rushdie himself could testify. Schmidt also mentioned the existence of recordings of the attack.
In October of last year, Schmidt announced his intention for Rushdie to give testimony. However, in July, Rushdie expressed uncertainty about attending the trial, stating, “Part of me wants to confront him in court, but another part of me is apathetic.”
Matar entered a plea of not guilty for the charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. He has been in custody without bail since his immediate arrest following the attack.
The incident occurred 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former leader of Iran, issued a fatwa demanding the death of Rushdie due to the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, which was considered sacrilegious.
Salman Rushdie stated that his upcoming autobiography was an essential piece for him to create. He saw it as a means to have control over his experiences and to respond to aggression with creativity.