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Iran denies connection to Rushdie’s attacker, blames writer

#Iran #denies #connection #Rushdies #attacker #blames #writer

Iran on Monday denied any connection with British author Salman Rushdie’s assailant but accused the author himself of “insulting” Islam in the novel The Satanic Verses.

“We categorically” deny any connection to the attack and “nobody has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in Tehran’s first official response to Friday’s stabbing.

“In this attack, we do not find anyone to be blamed or even condemned except for Salman Rushdie and his supporters,” he said at his weekly news conference in Tehran.

“By insulting the sacred causes of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than 1.5 billion Muslims and all followers of the divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the wrath and fury of the people.”

Rushdie, 75, was left with multiple stab wounds on a ventilator after being attacked at a literary event Friday in upstate New York.

But on Sunday he was off the ventilator and “on the road to recovery” despite suffering from serious injuries, his agent Andrew Wylie said.

The award-winning writer had spent years under police protection after Iranian leaders called for the assassination of Rushdie in 1989 over his portrayal of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed in the novel.

The alleged attacker, 24-year-old New Jersey resident Hadi Matar, was wrestled to the ground by staff and bystanders before being taken into police custody.

He was later arraigned in court and pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

In 1989, Iran’s then supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a religious decree or fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie for what he believed to be the blasphemous nature of The Satanic Verses.

The fatwa was never officially repealed and translators of the novel were attacked.

– Highly flammable –

The stabbing of Rushdie comes at a sensitive juncture in Iran’s talks with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by the United States in 2018 in exchange for lifting crippling US sanctions.

State Department spokesman Kanani on Monday emphasized the position that Rushdie, not Iran, was responsible for the attack on him.

Commenting on the novel, Kanani said: “The anger at the time at this inappropriate action was not limited to Iran and the Islamic Republic.

“Millions of people in Arab, Islamic and non-Islamic countries have reacted with anger.

“To condemn the act of the attacker on the one hand and to acquit the act of the one who insults sacred and Islamic matters on the other hand is completely contradictory.”

More than 30 years after its publication, the book and its author remain deeply seditious in Iran.

When asked by AFP at Tehran’s book market on Saturday for comments on the attack, Iranians did not openly condemn the stabbing, sparking outrage in the West.

The ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper, whose director will be appointed by the current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, welcomed the attack.

“Bravo to this brave and dutiful man who attacked the renegade and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York,” it said.

With the exception of the reformist publication Etemad, Iranian media followed a similar line, also labeling Rushdie a “renegade”.

A state newspaper in Iran said the “devil’s throat” had been “cut with a razor blade.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday condemned the Iranian state media for “glaring” at the attack, saying it was “despicable”.

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