Iran Has Something to Say About Rushdie Attack

It denies any culpability, says stabbing was the fault of Rushdie himself and his supporters
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2022 6:34 AM CDT
Iran on Stabbing: It's Rushdie's Own Fault
In this photo released on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani speaks in Tehran, Iran.   (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

As Salman Rushdie appears to be slowly recuperating after last week's stabbing in New York, Iran has its own update, and it's a denial of any culpability. "Regarding the attack on Salman Rushdie, we do not consider anyone other than [Rushdie] and his supporters [worthy] of blame and even condemnation," Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said at a Monday presser, per CNN. He added that the only information emerging about the UK author's alleged attacker—24-year-old Hadi Matar of New Jersey—has come from American media. Kanaani then stressed: "We categorically and seriously deny any connection of the assailant with Iran."

It was the country's first official statement on Friday's incident. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a different outlook early Monday, releasing a statement that didn't directly blame Iran for the "despicable" attack on the 75-year-old writer, but still pointed fingers at its actions. "Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life," Blinken noted, per the AP. Indeed, multiple hard-line publications in Iran praised the suspect, with one offering "a thousand bravos" to the "warrior" who attacked Rushdie, per CNN.

The outlet notes that the 1989 fatwa issued against Rushdie after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, which many viewed as a slam against Islam, was deemed "solid" by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as recently as 2019, despite earlier attempts by Iran's government to walk it back. In his Monday news conference, Kanaani said that freedom of speech didn't give Rushdie the right to insult religion in his writings, per the BBC. Meanwhile, back in the States, Matar pleaded not guilty through his lawyer on Saturday to attempted second-degree murder, as well as other charges. New York police haven't yet offered a motive for the attack. (More Salman Rushdie stories.)

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