Iranian official says Salman Rushdie and his fans are responsible for the attack


LONDON — Iran’s government on Monday denied that its officials were responsible for the attack on Salman Rushdie, saying the government had never heard of the man who allegedly stabbed the perpetrator on Friday.

“No one has the right to blame Iran,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Monday during his weekly press conference, adding that Iran was unaware of the identity of the alleged assailant.

“We don’t know anything more about this person than what we’ve heard from US media,” Kanaani said.

In this photo released on August 11, 2022 by Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani speaks in Tehran, Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP

Rushdie, an Indo-British citizen, was stabbed last week during a conference in New York. Police have identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar, who has been charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault. Matar pleaded not guilty to the charges in court on Saturday, the Associated Press reported. A lawyer argued on his behalf, the AP said.

In 1989, Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa of apostasy on the author’s novel “The Satanic Verses.” The book was partly inspired by the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Iranian leaders and others have accused Rushdie of blasphemy.

“Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to public wrath by insulting sacred Islamic subjects and crossing the red lines of over 1.5 billion Muslims and the red lines of followers of all divine religions,” Kanaani said on Monday. . “All were offended by someone insulting a divine prophet.”

FILE PHOTO: Writer Salman Rushdie is interviewed during the Heartland Festival in Kvaerndrup, Denmark June 2, 2018.

Writer Salman Rushdie is interviewed during the Heartland Festival in Kvaerndrup, Denmark, June 2, 2018.

Ritzau Scanpix Denmark/Reuters

“By attacking [Rushdie]no one deserves to be condemned except [Rushdie] himself and his followers,” Kanaani said.

Iran’s foreign minister said in 1998 that the country had dropped Rushdie’s death threat, but the country’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in the country’s political decision-making and the issuance of religious decrees, has repeatedly confirmed, including in 2017, that the fatwa is still valid.

Rushdie was taken off a ventilator and was on the “road to recovery,” his literary agent, Andrew Wiley, said on Sunday.

Prior to Iran’s official reaction, local media appeared to express satisfaction that Rushdie had been stabbed. Iran Daily, which often reflects the government’s point of view, published an article under the title: “Satan’s neck under the blade”.

PHOTO: Hadi Matar, 24, center, listens as her public defense attorney Nathaniel Barone, left, addresses the judge during his appearance at the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York on August 13 2022.

Hadi Matar, 24, center, listens to her public defense attorney Nathaniel Barone, left, address the judge during his appearance outside the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York on August 13, 2022 .

Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

Another newspaper, Keyhan, whose editor was appointed by the Iranian leader, praised the man who allegedly stabbed Rushdie, calling him “brave”. He called for “a kiss on his hand that tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife”.

Another newspaper ran a front-page story with the headline “Satan on the Road to Hell,” which featured a photo of Rushdie on a stretcher being carried away.

Public opinion on the stabbings may differ from the official view, according to a source who spoke to ABC News on Monday.

“This is a clear attack not only on a great writer but on freedom of expression. Such acts must stop,” said Sarah, an Iranian sociology student, who asked that her surname be withheld. for his safety. “I’m so glad that Rushdie survived and is on the road to recovery and that the extremists didn’t do their thing.”

ABC News

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