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AUTHOR SALMAN RUSHDIE ON VENTILATOR AFTER ATTACK IN NEW YORK

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Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, US [Joshua Goodman/AP Photo]

Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and abdomen as he was being introduced to the audience at a literary event.

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, has been stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in southwestern New York state.

Police confirmed Rushdie was stabbed “at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen” on Friday after an assailant rushed to the stage and lunged at the 75-year-old writer just as he was being introduced to the audience.

After being airlifted to hospital where he spent hours in surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak on Friday evening.

“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email to the Reuters news agency. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey.

Major Eugene Staniszewski of New York state police told reporters on Friday afternoon that officials do not have “any indication of a motive” at this “very early” stage of the investigation. They said they believed that Matar was acting alone.

Portrait of writer Salman Rushdie
Rushdie won the Booker Prize for his 1981 novel Midnight’s Children, but became widely known after the publication of The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous [File: Rogelio V Solis/AP Photo]

Stacey Schlosser, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press news agency that Rushdie was stabbed six to eight times before the attacker was restrained.

“Nobody knew what to do. Nobody knew how to react. I mean, there were tons of people that rushed the stage,” Schlosser said.

“A man jumped up on the stage from I don’t know where and started what looked like beating him on the chest, repeated fist strokes into his chest and neck,” said Bradley Fisher, who was in the audience. “People were screaming and crying out and gasping.”

Stunned attendees helped pull the man off Rushdie, who had fallen to the floor. A New York state police trooper providing security at the event arrested the attacker, while a doctor in the audience helped look after Rushdie until emergency services arrived.

Life in hiding

Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, has been banned in Iran and some other countries, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. In 1989, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict calling for Rushdie’s death.

Iran’s government has since distanced itself from the decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered.

“The fatwa belongs to the Ayatollah and cannot be rescinded by the state according to Iranian practice,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told Al Jazeera. “They [Iran] took this distance from it as part of a pre-condition for the Iranians and the UK to restore diplomatic relations. Ever since, the threat picture against Salman Rushdie seems to have reduced significantly, but clearly not enough.”

In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation had increased the amount on offer for the writer’s killing from $2.8m to $3.3m.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the money and published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about his ordeal. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.

Rushdie rose to prominence in 1981 when his second novel Midnight’s Children, won the Booker Prize, but it was with the publication of The Satanic Verses that his name became known around the world.

Author Salman Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed
Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed on stage at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York [Twitter@HoratioGates3 /via Reuters]

The Chautauqua Institution, about 90km (55 miles) southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, is known for its summertime lecture series.

Rushdie, who started out in advertising, has published more than a dozen books and spoken at Chautauqua before. He had been scheduled to talk about the United States giving asylum to artists in exile and “as a home for freedom of creative expression”, according to the institution’s website. His new novel Victory City is due to be published in February.

The author, who currently lives in the US, had lived under police protection because of threats to his life. The United Kingdom awarded him a knighthood in 2007, which sparked protest in several countries in the Muslim world.

Writers, advocacy groups and politicians in the US and Europe condemned Friday’s attack and defended freedom of speech.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Rushdie was stabbed “while exercising a right we should never cease to defend”.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal.”

Pen America, a writers’ association that promotes freedom of expression, which Rushdie once led, described the assault as a “premeditated attack”.

“PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie, who was reportedly stabbed multiple times while on stage speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York,” the group’s CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil.”

Law enforcement officers detain Hadi Matar, 24 and take him to a police car outside the Chautauqua Institution
Law enforcement officers take suspect Hadi Matar, 24, to a police car after the attack on Rushdie. Matar was tackled by members of the audience who rushed onto the stage [Charles Fox via AP Photo]

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who represents New York, called the assault on Rushdie an “appalling” attack on “freedom of speech and thought”.

“I hope Mr. Rushdie quickly and fully recovers and the perpetrator experiences full accountability and justice,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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Foreign

UKRAINE FORCES BREAK THROUGH RUSSIAN DEFENCES IN SOUTH, ADVANCE IN EAST

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Ukrainian forces have broken through Russian defences in the south of the country while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, seizing back more territory in areas annexed by Russia and threatening its troops’ supply lines.

Making their biggest breakthrough in the south since the war began, Ukrainian forces recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said.

Ukrainian forces in the south destroyed 31 Russian tanks and one multiple rocket launcher, the military’s southern operational command said in a nightly update, without providing details of where the fighting occurred.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.

The southern breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian advances in the east even as Russia has tried to raise the stakes by annexing land, ordering mobilisation, and threatening nuclear retaliation.

Ukraine has made significant advances in two of the four Russian-occupied regions Moscow last week annexed after what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.

In a sign Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, Reuters saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles heading on Monday to reinforce the rail hub of Lyman, retaken at the weekend, and a staging post to press into the Donbas region.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine’s army had seized back towns in a number of areas, without giving details.

“New population centres have been liberated in several regions.

“Heavy fighting is going on in several sectors of the front,” Zelensky said in a video address.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk – one of two regions that make up the Donbas – said Russian forces had taken over a psychiatric hospital in the town of Svatovo, a target en route to recapturing the major cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk.

“There is quite a network of underground rooms in the building and they have taken up defensive positions,” he told Ukrainian television.

In the south, Ukrainian troops recaptured the town of Dudchany along the west bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.

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Foreign

50 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE IN MODERN SLAVERY —ILO

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Latest estimates show that forced labour and forced marriage have increased significantly in the last five years, according to the International Labour Organisation, Walk Free and the International Organisation for Migration.

Fifty million people were living in modern slavery in 2021, according to the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery. Of these people, 28 million were in forced labour and 22 million were trapped in forced marriage.

The number of people in modern slavery has risen significantly in the last five years. Ten million more people were in modern slavery in 2021 compared to 2016 global estimates. Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable.

Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52 per cent) of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.

Most cases of forced labour (86 per cent) are found in the private sector. Forced labour in sectors other than commercial sexual exploitation accounts for 63 per cent of all forced labour, while forced commercial sexual exploitation represents 23 per cent of all forced labour. Almost four out of five of those in forced commercial sexual exploitation are women or girls.

State-imposed forced labour accounts for 14 per cent of people in forced labour. Almost one in eight of all those in forced labour are children (3.3 million). More than half of these are in commercial sexual exploitation.

An estimated 22 million people were living in forced marriage on any given day in 2021. This indicates an increase of 6.6 million since the 2016 global estimates.

The true incidence of forced marriage, particularly involving children aged 16 and younger, is likely far greater than current estimates can capture. These are based on a narrow definition and do not include all child marriages. Child marriages are considered to be forced because a child cannot legally give consent to marry.

Forced marriage is closely linked to long-established patriarchal attitudes and practices and is highly context specific. The overwhelming majority of forced marriages (more than 85 per cent) was driven by family pressure. Although two-thirds (65 per cent) of forced marriages are found in Asia and the Pacific, when regional population size is considered, the prevalence is highest in the Arab States, with 4.8 people out of every 1,000 in the region in forced marriage.

Migrant workers are more than three times likely to be in forced labour than non-migrant adult workers. While labour migration has a largely positive effect on individuals, households, communities and societies, this finding demonstrates how migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labour and trafficking, whether because of irregular or poorly governed migration, or unfair and unethical recruitment practices.

“It is shocking that the situation of modern slavery is not improving. Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

“We know what needs to be done, and we know it can be done. Effective national policies and regulation are fundamental. But governments cannot do this alone. International standards provide a sound basis, and an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed. Trade unions, employers’ organisations, civil society and ordinary people all have critical roles to play.”

António Vitorino, IOM Director-General, said, “This report underscores the urgency of ensuring that all migration is safe, orderly, and regular. Reducing the vulnerability of migrants to forced labour and trafficking in persons depends first and foremost on national policy and legal frameworks that respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants – and potential migrants – at all stages of the migration process, regardless of their migration status. The whole of society must work together to reverse these shocking trends, including through implementation of the Global Compact on Migration.”

Grace Forrest, Founding Director of Walk Free, said, “Modern slavery is the antithesis of sustainable development. Yet, in 2022, it continues to underpin our global economy. It is a man-made problem, connected to both historical slavery and persisting structural inequality. In a time of compounding crises, genuine political will is the key to ending these human rights abuses.”

The report proposes a number of recommended actions which, taken together and swiftly, would mark significant progress towards ending modern slavery. They include: improving and enforcing laws and labour inspections; ending state-imposed forced labour; stronger measures to combat forced labour and trafficking in business and supply chains; extending social protection, and strengthening legal protections, including raising the legal age of marriage to 18 without exception. Other measures include addressing the increased risk of trafficking and forced labour for migrant workers, promoting fair and ethical recruitment, and greater support for women, girls and vulnerable individuals.

Modern slavery, as defined for the report, is comprised of two principal components – forced labour and forced marriage. Both refer to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, or abuse of power.

Forced labour, as defined in the ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No.29), refers to “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which they said person has not offered himself voluntarily.” The ‘private economy’ includes all forms of forced labour other than state-imposed forced labour.

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Foreign

NORTH KOREA FIRES MISSILE OVER JAPAN

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North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, prompting Tokyo to activate the country’s missile alert system and order people to take shelter.

The last time North Korea fired a missile over Japan was in 2017, at the height of a period of “fire and fury” when Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un traded insults with then-US president Donald Trump.

South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of an IRBM, which flew around 4,500 km (2800 miles) at an altitude of about 970 km and speeds of around Mach 17.

“Specific details are under close analysis by South Korean and US intelligence,” the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff added in a statement.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol called the launch a “provocation” that violated UN regulations

Yoon “ordered a stern response and to take corresponding measures in cooperation with the United States and the international community”, his office said in a statement.

Tokyo also confirmed the launch of an IRBM, activating the country’s missile alert warning system and urging people to take shelter.

“North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please evacuate into buildings or underground,” the government said in an alert issued at 7:29 am (2229 GMT Monday).

National broadcaster NHK said the alert was in effect for two northern regions of the country.

“A ballistic missile is believed to have passed over our country and fallen in the Pacific Ocean. This is an act of violence following recent repeated launches of ballistic missiles. We strongly condemn this,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said that North Korea “has in the past launched Hwasong 12-type missiles four times, so this could be the same type”.

If so, the flight distance, which Tokyo estimated at 4,600 km, was thought to be a new record for that particular missile.

The last two times North Korea fired Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan, in September and August 2017, they travelled 3,700 km and 2,700 km respectively, Chad O’Carroll of Seoul-based specialist site NK News wrote on Twitter.

“This is the 8th test of the Hwasong-12 and the 3rd time it has overflown Japan,” Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies wrote on Twitter.

– Military drills –

With talks long-stalled, nuclear-armed North Korea has doubled down on Kim’s military modernisation plans this year, testing a string of banned weaponry, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017.

Last week, Pyongyang fired short-range ballistic missiles on four occasions, including just hours after US Vice President Kamala Harris flew out of Seoul.

The latest bout of intense weapons testing by Pyongyang comes as Seoul, Tokyo and Washington ramp up joint military drills to counter growing threats from the North.

South Korea, Japan and the United States staged anti-submarine drills Friday — the first in five years — just days after Washington and Seoul’s navies conducted large-scale exercises in waters off the peninsula, involving a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier.

Such drills infuriate North Korea, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

Harris toured the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula while on a trip that aimed to underscore her country’s “ironclad” commitment to South Korea’s defence against the North.

Washington has stationed about 28,500 troops in South Korea to help protect it from the North.

– Significant escalation –

“If Pyongyang has fired a missile over Japan, that would represent a significant escalation over its recent provocations,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“Pyongyang is still in the middle of a provocation and testing cycle,” he added.

“The Kim regime is developing weapons such as tactical nuclear warheads and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as part of a long-term strategy to outrun South Korea in an arms race and drive wedges among US allies.”

South Korean and US officials have also been warning for months that Kim was preparing to conduct another nuclear test.

The officials said they believed this could happen soon after China’s upcoming party congress on October 16.

North Korea, which is under multiple UN sanctions for its weapons programmes, typically seeks to maximise the geopolitical impact of its tests with careful timing.

The isolated country has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006, most recently in 2017.

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