A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday denied that the country had any involvement in the attack on Salman Rushdie, in what was Tehran’s first official statement since the violent attack, blaming the author himself.
Rushdie was stabbed about 10 times Friday while speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York. He suffered multiple injuries, including a damaged liver, and is expected to lose an eye.
Iranian spokesman Nasser Kanaani blamed Rushdie for the attack.
According to Iran’s Students’ News Agency, Mr Kanaani said Mr Rushdie had crossed “red lines” and was “exposing himself to the anger and wrath of the people”. He said Tehran had no information about the attacker other than what was reported in the US news media.
“In this case, we are not accusing or condemning anyone except Salman Rushdie and his supporters,” Mr Kanaani said.
Police arrested Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, in the attack.
Mr Rushdie, an award-winning author, had been the subject of a fatwa issued in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the Supreme Leader of Iran, ordering Muslims to kill him and putting a multi-million dollar bounty on his head. He was the target of his novel “The Satanic Verses,” which caused a furore in many parts of the Islamic world for its portrayal of Islam and the prophet Muhammad.
In 1998, Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami, who was considered relatively liberal, said the country no longer supported the assassination. But the fatwa remains in place.
Mr Rushdie has lived under police protection for years, but lately he had traveled freely and largely without security.
mr. Rushdie has since been removed from a ventilator and his “road to recovery has begun,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, told DailyExpertNews on Sunday. “It will be long; the injuries are serious, but his condition is improving.”
Prosecutors said in court on Saturday that the attack was premeditated. According to prosecutors, Mr. Matar had traveled by bus to the intellectual retreat and had bought a pass that allowed him to attend Mr Rushdie’s speech on Friday morning.