Just two weeks before he was attacked Friday, author Salman Rushdie told an interviewer he believed his life was “very normal again.”
Despite being subject to three decades of threats from Iran, Rushdie, 75, told German weekly Stern that “a lot of people live with similar threats,” referring to other dissident authors, according to the Guardian.
Rushdie has been living under threat since Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling to kill the author over his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” which some Muslims considered as disrespectful of the Prophet Mohammed.
Rushdie was speaking on the topic of protecting dissident authors at an event in Chautauqua, New York, when he was attacked.
“A fatwa is a serious thing. Luckily we didn’t have the internet back then. The Iranians had send the fatwa to the mosques by fax. That’s all a long time ago. Nowadays my life is very normal again,” the author said in the interview with Stern.
French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, a long-time friend of Rushdie, told French media that Rushdie lived “an almost normal life… discrete, almost without security.”
Levy also called for Rushdie to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The man accused of attacking Rushdie at Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center, pleaded not guilty Saturday evening to attempted murder and assault charges in what a US prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime.
An attorney for Hadi Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment in western New York. The suspect appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, with his hands cuffed in front of him.
A judge ordered him held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt told her Matar, 24, took steps to purposely put himself in a position to harm Rushdie, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early bearing a fake ID.
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report