DRAMATIC footage shows the moment hero audience members tackled a knifeman after he stabbed Salman Rushdie as screams echoed around the venue.
The author, 75, suffered horror injuries as he was knifed up to 15 times in front of a horrified crowd at New York's Chautauqua Institution.
A shocking clip shows brave attendees rushing to take down the attacker as others swiftly moved to Rushdie's aid amid a piercing chorus of screams and gasps.
The suspect, named by cops as Hadi Matar, 24, was then hauled away by an officer before Rushdie was helped off the stage.
Remaining guests were then evacuated from the auditorium as Rushdie was dashed to hospital via air ambulance and given emergency surgery.
The Indian-born writer is on a ventilator and suffering from severed nerves and a damaged liver.
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Andrew Wylie, his book agent, said: "The news is not good.
"Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged."
Pictures showed blood splattered across a screen in the lecture theatre and a chair Rushdie was sitting on.
Rabbi Charles Savenor told The Sun Online he was in the crowd when the violent scene erupted.
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Savenor, 53, said the horror attack went on for "20 to 40 seconds" before Rushdie's alleged attacker was stopped.
He said: “At first no one knew how to respond. We didn’t know what we were witnessing, what we were looking at.
“We were about 75 feet away and we saw the assailant attack Mr. Rushdie.
“His arm was going up and down, I didn’t know if he was punching him or if he had a knife," Savenor recalled.
“The crowd was just shocked but within a few seconds, there was a sense that we were witnessing an assault in real-time."
An AP reporter said he witnessed the man punch or stab the author "10 to 15 times".
Cops arrested Matar, from New Jersey, and were last night pictured at his home in Fairview.
According to the Mayor of Yaron in Lebanon, Matar is a "Lebanese citizen, born in the US".
It has also been claimed Matar held a fake driving licence bearing the surname of a Hezbollah commander
US law enforcement last night revealed an initial investigation suggests Rushdie's suspected attacker is sympathetic to the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the New York Post reported.
The crowd was just shocked but within a few seconds, there was a sense that we were witnessing an assault in real-time.
Matar is in custody and State Police said they recovered a backpack at the scene as well as electronic devices.
Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now Mumbai, before moving to the UK, has long faced death threats for his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses.
It was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations upon its 1988 publication.
Rushdie spent about ten years under police protection in the UK, living in hiding after Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s execution.
Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the $3million (£2.5m) reward.
However, over the years, there have been several failed assassination attempts on Rushdie, including attacks on several people connected to its publication.
In 1991, Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was fatally stabbed and an Italian translator was also nearly killed in another attack.
Now, Iran state media has chillingly hailed Rushdie's attacker as a "courageous and duty-conscious man".
The dictatorship celebrated the horror attack – branding Rushdie an "apostate" and "heretic" as they praised his attacker for "tearing neck of the enemy of God with a knife".
Ultra-conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan commended the stabbing in today's issue as its chief Hossein Shariatmadari described Rushdie as "depraved".
He said: "Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York.
"Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife."
FARS News, another regime-owned outlet, accused Rushdie of having "insulted the Prophet of Islam (PBUH)" with the book's "anti-religious content".
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described the incident as "appalling."
He said: "We're thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping him so swiftly."
British PM Boris Johnson said he was appalled that Rushdie was "stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend."
Weeks before Friday's attack, Rushdie had spoken out about his "battle" with a story about a severed head in a speech.
he addressed the PEN America Emergency World Voices Congress of Writers at the United Nations and spoke about the Ukraine War.
During the speech, the author also accused the United States of "sliding back toward the Middle Ages" and slammed the resurgence of "bigoted ideas from centuries ago."
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He said: "Meanwhile America is sliding back toward the Middle Ages, as white supremacy exerts itself not only over black bodies, but women’s bodies too.
"False narratives rooted in antiquated religiosity and bigoted ideas from centuries ago are used to justify this, and find willing audiences."
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