The stabbing of controversial author Sir Salman Rushdie has been described as “an assault on freedom of thought and speech”.

The 75-year-old remains on a ventilator after being airlifted to hospital and undergoing hours of surgery following the attack in New York state.

And messages of support have been pouring in for the Indian-born British author.

Fellow-novelist Ian McEwan said: “This appalling attack on my dear friend Salman represents an assault on freedom of thought and speech.

“These are the freedoms that underpin all our rights and liberties. Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world.”

Read more:

Why is Salman Rushdie so controversial?

Norwegian William Nygaard, who was shot and severely wounded in 1993 after publishing Sir Salman’s work, said: “He is a leading author who has meant so much to literature, and he had found a good life in the United States.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Shocked and appalled to hear of the unprovoked and senseless attack on Sir Salman Rushdie.

“Freedom of expression is a value we hold dear and attempts to undermine it must not be tolerated. My thoughts are with Sir Salman and his family.”

Boris Johnson said: “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.

“We are all hoping he is okay.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling.

“All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.”