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'Can finally exhale': Padma Lakshmi 'relieved' ex-husband Salman Rushdie is off ventilator after brutal stabbing

Lakshmi said she had been ‘worried and wordless’ after Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed by Hadi Matar at a public speaking event in Chautauqua, New York
Padma Lakshmi's (L) former husband Salman Rushdie was stabbed '15 times' by Hadi Matar (R) (Evan Agostini/Getty Images and @MrAndyNgo/Twitter)
Padma Lakshmi's (L) former husband Salman Rushdie was stabbed '15 times' by Hadi Matar (R) (Evan Agostini/Getty Images and @MrAndyNgo/Twitter)

CHAUTAUQUA, NEW YORK: Padma Lakshmi is "relieved" that her ex-husband Salman Rushdie 'is pulling through' after he was repeatedly stabbed by Hadi Matar, 24, at a public speaking event at Chautauqua Institution, New York, on Friday, August 12, 2022. Padma Lakshmi, 51, who was married to Salman Rushdie from 2004 until their 2007 divorce, also hoped that he would have "swift healing" from the attack. The 'Top Chef' host wrote on Twitter on Sunday, August 14, morning, "Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday’s nightmare, Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing." Her tweet followed the news that Rushdie had been taken off the ventilator and was able to say a few words although he is still in critical condition.

Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author of the 'Satanic Verses' who was hospitalized with serious injuries after being repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in New York, is off a ventilator and his condition is improving. “It will be long the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction,” his agent Andrew Wylie said. According to the law enforcement authorities, the author was stabbed 15 times "at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen.” Rushdie was airlifted to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania where he remained in surgery, while the attacker was taken into custody by the New York State Police. Though the precise reason for the attack on the author is still being investigated, authorities believe that Matar had sympathies toward the Iranian government's "fatwa". Matar has pleaded not guilty, through his lawyer, to attempted murder and assault charges and was refused bail.


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Although Lakshmi was gracious in her tweet, she and Rushdie have had their own indifferences in the past. Rushdie accused Lakshmi of "majestic narcissism", while Lakshmi wrote that her ex-husband required constant praise, feeding, and attention, not to mention "frequent sex". One of Rushdie’s sons, Zafar Rushdie, said his father was able to say a few words after getting off the ventilator. “Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humor remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie wrote on Twitter. Authorities are still looking into Matar's nationality and his criminal records if any. New York State Police Maj Eugene J Staniszewski told NBC News that a preliminary review of Matar's social media revealed that he had "sympathies for Shia extremism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC."


While the authorities are still investigating the motive behind the attack, they believe that Matar acted alone and had no accomplices. The FBI is helping the New York State Police with the investigation. Though there are no direct links between Matar and the IRGC, which has been classified as a terrorist organization by the US government, officials discovered a messaging app on his phone that included images of Soleimani, an Iraqi extremist sympathetic to the Iranian regime. The controversial book 'Satanic Verses' has been banned in Iran and a $3.3 million bounty had been placed on the author's head by Ayatollah Khomenei.

Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for a decade while under police protection, and he previously stated that he received a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran each year reminding him that the country had not forgotten its vow to kill him. The fatwa also resulted in the murder of the book's Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi as well as the targeting of the book's translators and publishers in Turkey, Norway, and Italy, as well as worldwide riots and book-burnings, while 'The Satanic Verses' was banned in many countries. Rushdie once told DailyMail, "'Being under the fatwa was a jail, but I think that one of the problems is that from the outside it looked glamorous, as I sometimes showed up in places in Jags with people jumping out to open the door and make sure you get in safely and so on. Looks of who the hell does he think he is? Well, from my side it felt like jail."

"If I had simply wanted to trade on an insult to Islam I could have done it in a sentence rather than writing a 250,000-word novel, a work of fiction," he added. In 1998, Iran's reformist president relaxed the fatwa and stated that the country had no intention of tracking down and killing Rushdie.