Rushdie’s condition was not immediately known, but video footage from the incident showed people rushing to his aid after he was attacked at the event in Chautauqua County.
A man rushed to the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and attacked Rushdie as he was being introduced, a witness told Reuters, adding the attacker was subsequently restrained.
Police said Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to his neck and was transported by helicopter to the hospital.
The person interviewing Rushdie also suffered a minor head injury, the state police said.
Rita Landman, an endocrinologist who was in the audience, said that Rushdie had multiple stab wounds, including one to the right side of his neck, and that there was a pool of blood under his body, the New York Times reported.
“People were saying, ‘He has a pulse, he has a pulse he has a pulse,’” Landman said.
Bill Vasu, 72, who attended the event, said he had seen the man rush over to Rushdie and start attacking him. “I could just see his fists sort of pounding on Salman,” he said.
“There was just one attacker,” said Elisabeth Healey, 75, who was in the audience. “He was dressed in black. He had a loose black garment on. He ran with lightning speed over to him.”
Multiple witnesses said the attacker was able to reach Rushdie easily, running onstage and approaching him from behind.
Roger Warner, who was sitting on the front row at the amphitheater, said he saw a tall, slender man leap onto the stage from the left side and begin attacking Salman Rushdie.
He thought the man had punched Rushdie three or four times in the face.
Then he saw the blood. “He was covered with blood and there was blood running down onto the floor,” Warner said. “I just saw blood all around his eyes and running down his cheek.”
Rushdie is the author of “The Satanic Verses”, a blasphemous novel about Islam published in 1988 which sparked Muslims’ outrage across the globe.
Following the publication of the book, Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, issued a fatwa (religious decree) calling for Rushdie’s death.