The interviewer who was sitting next to Sir Salman Rushdie onstage when he was brutally attacked has narrated the shocking moment.
Henry Reese was preparing to argue with the novelist when an attacker armed with a knife stormed the stage, inflicting “life-changing” injuries.
The 75-year-old was flown to hospital for surgery, where he is still recovering and is likely to lose an eye.
Mr Reese, also 75, suffered facial injuries himself during the chaos that erupted Friday at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.
Asked how he was doing after the incident, Mr Reese told the BBC: ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m doing pretty well.
“I think we’re concerned about Salman, and I mean that for himself, but also for what he means in the world.
When asked what the incident meant for the importance of Sir Salman’s values, Mr Reese added: ‘There could be nothing more alive in the realization of our values.
“Our mission is to protect writers who find themselves in a sanctuary and to see Salman Rushdie being attacked for his life is unimaginable…it’s hard to describe what it’s like to see that happen right in front of you.”
Mr Reese said his ambition is to one day complete the conversation they wanted to have at the event about literary freedom in the US.
He continued, “That would be my ideal to do that, and to see that happen and not be hindered in any way in what we wanted to do.
“To show both that these values will be defended and that they can be defended.”
Sir Salman’s family say he has retained his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour” despite suffering horrific injuries, including a damaged liver and severed nerves in one arm.
The Booker Prize winner now breathes without the aid of a ventilator.
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old detained at the scene, has pleaded innocent through his lawyer to charges stemming from the attack and is due to appear in a US court on Friday.
Sir Salman endured decades of death threats and went into hiding for several years after the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
Inspired in part by the life of Muhammad, it was labeled blasphemous by the Iranian ayatollah and a fatwa was issued ordering his followers to kill the writer.
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