Iran accuses Rushdie of 'crossing red lines' and blames HIM for attack

Iran accuses Salman Rushdie of ‘crossing the red lines of 1.5 billion Muslims’ and blames HIM for New York attack but denies links with knifeman in first public comments on stabbing

  • Iran issued statement denying any responsibility for brutal attack on Rushdie
  • Foreign ministry instead blamed him and his supporters for getting stabbed 
  • Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, was stabbed 12 times on Friday
  • The horrifying attack took place at a public event in upstate New York 
  • Rushdie suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye
  • Kayhan newspaper, whose editor is personally chosen by Iran’s Supreme Leader, on Sunday said that Trump and Pompeo were targets for revenge 

Rushdie (pictured in Los Angeles in 2013) has now been taken off a ventilator and can speak. There had been fears he would be left unable to talk after the attack last week

Iran has said only Salman Rushdie and his own supporters are to blame for the famed author being brutally stabbed at a public appearance in New York state, according to an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson.

Nasser Kanaani denied Iran had any responsibility for the attack on Friday, in which Rushdie, 75, was stabbed 12 times in front of a horrified audience. 

‘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,’ Kanaani told reporters at a press briefing on Monday.  ‘Nobody has right to accuse Iran in this regard.’ 

‘Salman Rushdie exposed himself to popular outrage by insulting Islamic sanctities and crossing the red lines of 1.5 billion Muslims,’ Kanaani said.

‘During the attack on Salman Rushdie, we do not consider anyone other than himself and his supporters worthy of reproach, reproach and condemnation…No one has the right to accuse Iran in this regard.’

Freedom of speech does not justify Rushdie’s insults upon religion in his writing, Kanaani said, adding that Iran has no other information about Rushdie’s assailant except what has appeared in media.

Rushdie suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, his agent said. He is likely to lose the injured eye but is expected to survive the attack.

His assailant, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the attack through his lawyer.

Iranian women are seen holding banners which read “Holly Koran” and “Kill Salman Rushdie” during a demonstration against British writer Salman Rushdie in Tehran on Feb 17, 1989 when the book was published

Bystanders and staff tend to Mr Rushdie on stage after Friday’s attack which saw Rushdie stabbed 12 times

People in the audience scream in terror moments after Rushdie is stabbed by assailant Hadi Matar, 24, who pleaded not guilty to the attack

The acclaimed author was rushed to hospital after being stabbed 12 times while on stage. Pictured: Rushdie being rushed to an air ambulance

Iran’s foreign ministry denied any Iranian involvement in the attack but blamed Rushdie himself and his own supporters. Pictured: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on June 4

Newly released mugshots show suspected knifeman Hadi Matar as he was detained in New York

Rushdie, a 75-year-old British-American novelist, was speaking on stage at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when Matar rushed onto the platform and stabbed Rushdie up to ten times.

Matar, born in the US to Lebanese parents, was quickly detained and charged with attempted murder. His mother told he became withdrawn after visiting Lebanon in 2018, but she had no idea he was radicalised, and she now disowned him.

The award-winning author has faced death threats over ‘The Satanic Verses’, which was published in 1989, for more than 30 years. 

Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, demanding his death. 

However, nearly ten years after issuing it, the Iranian government annoucned in 1998 it would no longer back the fatwa, and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years. 

Nonetheless, an Iranian foundation had put up a bounty of over $3 million for the author. 

The denial of Iranian state involvement follows hot on the heels of an editorial in Iran’s state media warning that Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo are next in line, following the stabbing Rushdie.

The Kayhan newspaper, whose editor is personally chosen by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared in a front page story published on Sunday that after Rushdie ‘it is now the turn of Trump and Pompeo’.

The editorial stated, according to The Daily Telegraph: ‘God has taken his revenge on Rushdie. The attack on him shows it is not a difficult job to take similar revenge on Trump and Pompeo and from now on they will feel more in danger for their lives.’

Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo were both threatened by Iranian state media on Sunday 

The threats against Trump and Pompeo stem from the killing of Qassim Soleimani, the powerful commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.

In January, on the second anniversary of the killing, Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi publicly vowed to seek revenge against the pair.

A US airstrike killed Soleimani, 62, and others as they travelled from Baghdad’s international airport on January 2, 2020.

The Pentagon said Trump ordered the US military to take ‘decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing’ the high-profile general.

Raisi declared in January this year: ‘If the conditions for a fair trial of Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo and other criminals become available, they will be charged for committing this heinous crime and will face the consequence of their criminal actions.

Rushdie’s fourth book, which he is pictured holding in February 1989, prompted a fatwa edict for his murder by the state of Iran. It has been ignored by frontline politicians since 1998

Salman Rushdie (left) stands with eldest son Zafar (right) at an event in London in June 2007

Zafar wrote this afternoon: ‘His usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact’

‘However, let there be no doubt that I say here to all American statesmen that the hand of revenge will eventually come out of the sleeve of our nation.’

Anthony Blinken, Pompeo’s successor as secretary of state, told Congress in April that Iran’s attempts to assassinate Pompeo ‘are real and ongoing’.

On Sunday morning Rushdie’s son, Zafar, 42, said his father’s condition remains ‘critical’, despite doctors being able to take him off a ventilator.

He was able to speak a few words, Zafar said, and ‘his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remain intact’. 

London-based PR agent Zafar wrote: ‘My father remains in critical condition in hospital. 

‘We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.

‘Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact. 

‘We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.

‘We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside.’

Zafar’s moving statement came moments before new mugshots taken at Chautauqua County Jail in Mayville, New York were published.

A judge ordered that Matar be held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt said the suspect had purposely put himself in position to harm the author.

‘This was a targeted, unprovoked, pre-planned attack on Mr Rushdie,’ Mr Schmidt said.

Hadi Matar, 24, arrives for a hearing at Chautauqua County Courthouse, NY on Saturday. He pleaded not guilty to attempted murder

Earlier this month Rushdie, 75, had said his life had become ‘very normal again’ as fear of the fatwa faded 

Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie spent years in hiding after being issued ‘spiritual’ death threat by Iran

Sir Salman Rushdie is a Booker Prize-winning author and novelist.

His writing is often based around the themes of connections and migrations between Western and Eastern civilizations.

He won the Booker Prize in 1981 for his second novel, Midnight’s Children. His writing has spawned 30 book-length studies, and over 700 articles on his writing.

Rushdie’s writings have broadly been acclaimed to the genres of magical realism and historical fiction.

He has been living in the US since 2000, and he was named a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University in 2015.

He has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, including for Midnight’s Children, in 1983 for Shame, in 1988 for The Satanic Versus, in 1995 for The Moor’s Last Sign, and in 2019 for Quichotte.

Salman Rushdie, 75, is an Indian-born author who has been acclaimed for his writing in the genres of magical realism and historical fiction

Prosecutors said he had bought an advance pass to the lecture and arrived a day early with a fake ID. 

He is believed to have lived with his mother and two sisters in Fairview, New Jersey, where neighbours described them as a ‘normal, very nice, very American family’.

Matar is said to be a devout Muslim and loner, but friends said he had not spoken of Iran or Rushdie. The suspected assailant was wrestled to the ground after running on the stage and stabbing the author repeatedly.

Henry Reese, who was to lead an on-stage discussion with Rushdie, and was also hurt, said at first he thought the attack was a ‘bad prank’ as it ‘didn’t have any sense of reality’.   

Meanwhile Rushdie’s comments to a German magazine made two weeks ago but published in the wake of his stabbing reveal the author’s relentless optimism in the wake of ‘scary times’.

Rushdie said death threats ‘have become more normal’ – but that the fatwa no longer scared him.

He explained: ‘A fatwa is a serious thing. Luckily we didn’t have the internet back then. The Iranians had send the fatwa to the mosques by fax. 

‘That’s all a long time ago. Nowadays my life is very normal again.’

Iran issued a call on Muslims worldwide to kill the author after his fourth novel, the Satanic Verses, was considered blasphemous.

Rushdie lived in hiding for 10 years in London under police protection, but gradually returned to public life after Iran’s government withdrew its support for the death sentence – without formally rescinding it. 

Rushdie came out of a decade-long hiding in 1998 after incoming Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said he no longer supported the fatwa.

But some Muslims continued to back Ayatollah Khamenei’s extreme edict – and the bounty on Rushdie’s head was raised to $3 million.

Rushdie, who became a US citizen in 2016 and lives in New York City, said he was most worried about threats to democracy in the United States.

‘Trump’s victory over truth is most important there. His people believe that they are lied to by the others, not by him,’ he said.

Rushdie added that he is optimistic about the future, stating: ‘I believe something very good is happening in the young generation. 

‘It is much more inclined to activism. We are seeing a generation grow of age that we urgently need right now, a combative one. 

‘We need people who can organise themselves, and people who are prepared to fight. Fighters. For a society worth living in. 

‘As an author I also notice that young authors are becoming role models again – instead of the way it used to be, namely just the dead ones.’    

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