Middle East

Salman Rushdie stabbing: Iran denies involvement and says author himself is to blame for attack

Iran has denied any involvement in the New York stabbing of Sir Salman Rushdie, arguing that only the author and his supporters are to be blamed for the attack.

Sir Salman, who has been receiving death threats for his novel The Satanic Verses, was stabbed nearly 10 times, including in the neck and the abdomen, on Friday by a man who rushed onto the stage as the author was preparing to deliver a lecture.

Although the 75-year-old author has been taken off a ventilator, he remains in critical condition after suffering liver damage and severed nerves in an arm and an eye.

“We, in the incident of the attack on Salman Rushdie in the US, do not consider that anyone deserves blame and accusations except him and his supporters,” said Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani on Monday.

“Nobody has the right to accuse Iran in this regard.”

Tehran denied carrying out other operations abroad targeting dissidents since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, despite western governments attributing such attacks to Iran.

The Indian-born author has been living with a bounty on his head for more than 30 years, which included a fatwa from Iran’s former spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1980s.

Mr Kanaani said that Iran did not “have any other information more than what the American media has reported”.

The west “condemning the actions of the attacker and in return glorifying the actions of the insulter to Islamic beliefs is a contradictory attitude”, he added.

And the spokesperson also argued that freedom of speech does not justify Sir Salman’s “insults” against religion in his writing.

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“Salman Rushdie exposed himself to popular outrage by insulting Islamic sanctities and crossing the red lines of 1.5 billion Muslims,” Mr Kanaani claimed.

The suspect arrested in the attack, identified as 24-year-old New Jersey man Hadi Matar, has appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. He has been charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of second-degree assault by the Chautauqua County district attorney’s office.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, the suspect’s mother says her son “changed” into a “moody introvert” following his visit to the Middle East in 2018. Matar, who was born in the US to Lebanese parents, had taken a trip to Lebanon to meet his father.