After three days of silence, Iran on Monday “categorically” denied any involvement in the knife attack in the United States against Salman Rushdie, blaming the 33-year-old author of “Satanic Verses,” after Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa sentenced the writer to death .
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“We categorically deny” any connection between the aggressor and Iran, and “no one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Nasser Kanani, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in his weekly news briefing.
This is Tehran’s first official response to Friday’s attack on the 75-year-old British-American writer from the podium of an amphitheater at a cultural center in Chautauqua, northwest New York.
“Only Salman Rushdie and his supporters deserve blame and even condemnation in this attack,” the Iranian spokesman said during his weekly news conference in Tehran.
“By insulting the holy things of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than a billion and a half Muslims and all followers of divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the anger and fury of the people,” he added.
Salman Rushdie, 75, who was taken to hospital after suffering serious injuries after the attack, says his family is doing slightly better. He is off life support and “the road to recovery has begun,” his agent Andrew Wylie hailed in a press release sent to the Washington Post.
“Wrath of Millions”
Born in India in 1947 to a family of non-practicing Muslim intellectuals, Salman Rushdie set a swath of the Muslim world ablaze in 1988 with the publication of Satanic Verses, a novel judged by the most rigorous as blasphemous of the Koran … and the Prophet Muhammad.
The founder of the Islamic Republic issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for the assassination of Salman Rushdie, who had been under police protection for years.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against the writer was never lifted and many of his translators were attacked.
“The anger shown at the time … was not limited to Iran and the Islamic Republic. Millions of people in Arab, Muslim and non-Muslim countries have reacted angrily to Salman Rushdie’s book, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Monday.
He considers it “completely contradictory” to “condemn the attacker’s actions on the one hand and to acquit the actions of those who insult sacred and Islamic things is completely contradictory”.
The alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old Lebanese-American, was charged with “attempted murder and assault.” He pleaded not guilty, using his attorney’s voice.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the Iranian state media “glared” at the attack on the intellectual. “It is despicable,” he said in a statement.
In Iran, the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan congratulated “this courageous and dutiful man who attacked the renegade and vicious Salman Rushdie.”
Javan, another ultra-conservative newspaper, wrote that it was a plot by the United States, which “probably wants to spread Islamophobia around the world.”
A hot topic in Iran, several people interviewed by AFP in Tehran in recent days have declined to comment on the on-camera attack on Salman Rushdie.