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Iran denies role, blames Salman Rushdie for attack

Novelist had crossed 'red lines' and 'exposed himself to anger and ire of people', says Nasser Kanaani

Euan Ward New York Published 16.08.22, 03:53 AM
Salman Rushdie.

Salman Rushdie. File picture

A spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday denied the country’s involvement in the attack on Salman Rushdie and faulted the author himself, issuing the first official statement by Tehran on the violent assault.

Rushdie was stabbed roughly 10 times on Friday while speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He suffered multiple injuries, including a damaged liver, and is expected to lose an eye.


The Iranian spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, put the blame on Rushdie for the attack.

According to the Iranian Students’ News Agency, Kanaani said that Rushdie had crossed “red lines” and “exposed himself to the anger and ire of the people”. He said that Tehran had no information on the attacker beyond what was being reported in US news media.

“In this case, we don’t blame or condemn anyone except Salman Rushdie and his supporters,” Kanaani said.

The police have arrested Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man, in connection with the attack.

Rushdie had been the subject of a fatwa issued in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the supreme leader of Iran, that ordered Muslims to kill him and put a price of several million dollars on his head.

The fatwa was issued in connection with Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, which had caused anger in many parts of the Islamic world because of its portrayal of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

In 1998, President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, who was considered relatively liberal, said the country no longer supported the killing. But the fatwa remains in place.

Rushdie spent years living under police protection but more recently began travelling freely and largely without security.

Friday’s attack came minutes before he was to deliver a talk at the Chautauqua Institution, a venerated cultural retreat.

Rushdie has been removed from a ventilator and his “road to recovery has begun”, his agent, Andrew Wylie, said on Sunday. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”

In court on Saturday, prosecutors said the attack was premeditated. Matar had travelled by bus to the intellectual retreat and bought a pass that allowed him to attend Rushdie’s talk on Friday morning, according to the prosecutors.

New York Times News Service

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