Rushdie Stabbing Brings Terror to an Idyllic Retreat for Earnest Inquiry –


Founded in 1874 by Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent as an educational experiment in “vacation learning,” Chautauqua began as a Methodist retreat but quickly grew into a community for other Protestant denominations as well.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the institution flourished and spawned a movement, with other Chautauqua centers cropping up in Colorado, Ohio, Michigan and beyond. Over the years, the institution has featured prominent writers and thinkers stretching from Mark Twain to former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Today, the Chautauqua Institution, which is about an hour south of Buffalo, is largely unchanged from its heyday a century ago. The manicured grounds feature lawn bowling courts and art galleries, and string quartets play in the grass outside a stately hotel.

A few hundred residents stay on the grounds year-round, and the population swells during a nine-week summer season, when homeowners and guests flock to the institution for a feast of cultural programming, ranging from Sheryl Crow to Ballet Hispánico. Mr. Rushdie was the featured speaker for the 10:45 a.m. lecture on Friday.

Though Mr. Rushdie had lived in a fortified safe house in London for the 10 years after a price was put on his head, he has been making public appearances for many years, often with minimal security.

Moments after Mr. Rushdie took the stage on Friday, the assailant rushed down an aisle of the amphitheater, pushing aside startled guests. The attacker faced no apparent resistance as he took the stage and began stabbing Mr. Rushdie, who was seated and waiting for the talk to begin.

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