Iran blames author Salman Rushdie for stabbing that may cost him his right eye

salman rushdie
  • Acclaimed British Indian author Salman Rushdie, 75, is recovering from injuries he sustained from a stabbing attack that occurred as he was being introduced to speak at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday.
  • The assailant, who was later identified as 24-year-old New Jersey resident Hadi Matar, climbed onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie several times before he was held down by staff and arrested by a state trooper.
  • Rushdie sustained multiple stab wounds, including three on his neck and four on his stomach, a laceration on his right thigh as well as puncture wounds on his chest and right eye, which he might end up losing.
  • The author, whose writing has earned him literary acclaim, has also attracted controversy and condemnation, particularly from some Islam groups who found some of his work blasphemous.
  • Among his most controversial works is his fourth novel "The Satanic Verses," which has been cited by Islamic extremists as motivation for bombings, killings and riots.
  • Matar, who pleaded not guilty to both charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury with a deadly weapon, could face a maximum prison sentence of 32 years if convicted.

Renowned author Salman Rushdie is recovering from injuries he sustained from a stabbing attack he suffered while onstage at a lecture series in New York on Friday.

The 75-year-old British Indian writer was being introduced to speak at the Chautauqua Institution when a man climbed onto the stage and stabbed him several times.

The assailant, later identified as New Jersey resident Hadi Matar, 24, was held down by staff and guests before he was arrested by a state trooper.

Rushdie was airlifted to the hospital where he received treatment for multiple stab wounds, including three on his neck and four on his stomach, according to Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt. He also sustained a laceration on his right thigh as well as puncture wounds on his chest and right eye, which he might end up losing.

According to his family, Rushdie has been taken off the ventilator and is now able to speak. 

“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remains intact,” the author’s son, Zafar Rushdie, said in a statement on Sunday. 

Ralph Henry Reese, another speaker at the event, also suffered a minor head injury during the attack.

Rushdie, whose writing has earned him literary acclaim, has also faced criticisms and threats over the years. 

Among his most controversial works is his fourth novel “The Satanic Verses,” which was denounced by some Muslims who considered it blasphemous. Islamic extremists have cited the book as the motivation for bombings, killings and riots. 

The novel, a 1988 Booker Prize finalist and winner of the 1988 Whitbread Award for the novel of the year, also resulted in several failed assassination attempts on Rushdie after Iranian political and religious leader Ruhollah Khomeini called for his death. 

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani pointed the blame on Rushdie and “his supporters” and stated via Iranian state media that they “categorically and seriously deny any connection of the assailant with Iran.”

“Regarding the attack against Salman Rushdie in America, we don’t consider anyone deserving reproach, blame or even condemnation, except for [Rushdie] himself and his supporters,” Kanaani said.

“In this regard, no one can blame the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added. “We believe that the insults made and the support he received was an insult against followers of all religions.”

Schmidt noted that the suspect traveled to Chautauqua by bus with cash, prepaid Visa cards and false identification. He called the stabbing a “targeted, preplanned, unprovoked attack on Mr. Rushdie.”

The suspect’s motive for the attack remains under investigation, according to New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen. Authorities say Matar had no criminal history prior to the incident. 

Public lawyer Nathaniel Barone, who represents the suspect, shared that Matar pleaded not guilty to both charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury with a deadly weapon. If convicted of both charges, he could face a maximum prison sentence of 32 years.

According to Barone, Matar has been “very cooperative” and so far communicated openly with authorities. 

 

Featured Image via Emory University

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