Salman Rushdie ‘brought a knife attack on himself,’ Iran says

Salman Rushdie suffered'severe injuries' from Friday's attack but is now recovering (Image: AP/Getty Images)

Salman Rushdie suffered ‘severe injuries’ from Friday’s attack but is now recovering (Image: AP/Getty Images)

An Iranian official has denied that Tehran was involved in the attack on author Sir Salman Rushdie.

But the country’s foreign ministry said he and his supporters are “to blame for what happened to him”.

Spokesman Nasser Kanaani added, “Freedom of expression does not justify Salman Rushdie’s insults to religion and violations of its sanctity.”

Sir Salman, 75, was stabbed to death on Friday as he was about to speak at an event in upstate New York.

He suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, his agent said. He would probably lose the injured eye.

His attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

Sir Salman has faced death threats for more than 30 years because of his 1988 book The Satanic Verses.

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Hadi Matar

Hadi Matar, 24, denies attempted murder (Image: AP)

The award-winning novel was partly influenced by the life of the Prophet Mohammed and was considered blasphemous by many Muslims.

A year after its release, the late Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, calling for his death.

The Mumbai-born British-American writer spent years in hiding requiring 24-hour police protection and several plots in his life were uncovered.

It was not until 1998 that the Iranian government declared that it would no longer officially support the fatwa.

However, anti-Rushdie sentiment lingered, and in 2012 a semi-official Iranian religious foundation increased a bounty on his life from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE BALTEL/SIPA/Shutterstock (10101157be) Salman Rushdie (Ahmed Salman Rushdie)'La Grande Librairie' TV Show, Paris, France, Feb 10, 2019

Sir Salman has faced decades of death threats for his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses (Image: Shutterstock)

Mr Kanaani said Iran had “no information other than what the American media has reported”.

That the West “condemns the acts of the aggressor and in return glorifies the acts of the offender of the Islamic faith is a contradictory attitude,” Mr Kanaani added.

Ali Tehfe, mayor of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, said Matar was the son of a local man.

The suspect’s parents immigrated to the United States and he was born and raised there, the mayor added.

Investigators will try to determine whether the alleged attacker had ties or sympathies with Shia extremist groups such as Hezbollah.

The Lebanese organization, which has ties to terrorist groups, told Reuters it had no involvement or contact with the suspect.

This is breaking news – more to come.

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Justin Scacco

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