Despite denying Tehran’s involvement in the attack on author Salman Rushdie, an Iranian government official on Monday defended the stabbing in statements that served as the Islamic Republic’s first formal public response to the incident.
More than two days after Rushdie was attacked in New York, Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, made the remarks. According to his agency, the author has since been removed from a ventilator and is “on the path to recovery.”
However, despite Western governments and prosecutors attributing previous operations targeting dissidents to Tehran in the years following the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran has denied carrying them out. A decades-old fatwa that calls for the writer’s execution still persists, despite Iran’s current lack of attention to the writer.
Except for (Rushdie) himself and his supporters, Kanaani added, “We don’t think anyone deserving criticism, blame, or even condemnation, regarding the onslaught against Salman Rushdie in America.”
No one can hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable in this way, he continued. We think that the insults he received and the support he received were directed at people of all faiths.
The attack on Rushdie, 75, happened on Friday when he was at an event in western New York. According to his agent Andrew Wylie, he had a damaged liver as well as severed nerves in an arm and an eye. Rushdie’s wounded eye was probably going to be lost.
Through a lawyer, his attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, entered a not-guilty plea to the counts related to the assault.
For “The Satanic Verses,” Rushdie has received death threats for more than 30 years. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran, had demanded his execution in a fatwa, or Islamic decree. A $3 million reward had been offered for the author by a semi-official Iranian foundation, but it has not yet responded to the attack.
Although New York City police have not yet disclosed a reason for the attack, District Attorney Jason Schmidt referenced the bounty on Rushdie when he argued against bail at a hearing on Saturday.
Schmidt stated, “We stand a danger that bail may be satisfied even if this court issued a million dollar bond.
According to the mayor of the village, Matar was born in America to parents who immigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon close to the Israeli border. The village is covered in banners for Hezbollah, a Shiite militant organisation supported by Iran, as well as photographs of Iranian and Hezbollah leaders. In the past, Israel has also shelled Hezbollah positions nearby.
According to Yaroun village records, Matar is listed as a Shiite and has Lebanese citizenship, according to a local official. The official, who requested anonymity due to security reasons, claimed that Matar’s father still resides there but has been living alone since the attack.
In his statements on Monday, Kanaani stated that Iran “had no additional information” beyond what had been reported by the American media. He also suggested Rushdie was the one who started the attack.
Kanaan stated that by offending Islam’s sacredness and transgressing both the red lines of its 1.5 billion Muslims and the red lines of adherents of all other religions, Rushdie “exposed himself to popular anger and fury.”
While not accusing Tehran specifically for the assault on Rushdie, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made sure to mention Iran in a statement early on Monday applauding the author’s work for freedom of expression and religion.
The attempt on Rushdie’s life was recently celebrated by state-affiliated media, according to Blinken. “Iranian official institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for centuries.” “This is disgusting.”
At a lecture on Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul denounced the assault on Rushdie and asserted that “a guy with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen.”
In 1989, Khomeini issued the fatwa against Rushdie because he was in ill health and the 1980s Iran-Iraq war had destroyed the nation’s finances. The novel, which some people perceived as presenting heretical statements about the Prophet Muhammad’s life, caused a violent outcry in the Muslim world, prompting the Islamic injunction.
The current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini, has never altered or rescinded a fatwa.
Khamenei stated: “The edict is as Imam Khomeini published” as recently as February 2017.
Iranian dissidents overseas have been victims of violence since 1979. Since then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers in 2018, tensions with the West, particularly the United States, have risen.
In 2020, tensions increased after a key Iranian Revolutionary Guard general was murdered in a drone strike that Trump had ordered.
The United States charged a member of the Guard last week for allegedly conspiring to murder former Trump adviser and pro-Iran John Bolton. Due to claimed threats from Iran, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a staff member are constantly guarded.
Meanwhile, according to American prosecutors, Iran attempted to kidnap a New York-based writer and activist for the Iranian opposition in 2021.
A man carrying an assault rifle was recently detained close to her house.
The Foreign Ministry has also denied that Tehran supplied weaponry to Yemen’s Houthi rebels during that nation’s protracted civil war. Weapon components have been linked to Iran by independent experts, Western countries, and U.N. experts.