Iran Denies Involvement But Justifies Salman Rushdie Attack

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Iranian authorities official denied on Monday that Tehran was concerned within the assault on writer Salman Rushdie, although he justified the stabbing in remarks that represented the Islamic Republic’s first public feedback on the assault.

The feedback by Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman of Iran’s International Ministry, got here greater than two days after the assault on Rushdie in New York. The author has now been taken off a ventilator and is “on the road to recovery,” in response to his agent.

Nevertheless, Iran has denied finishing up different operations overseas concentrating on dissidents within the years for the reason that nation’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, regardless of prosecutors and Western governments attributing such assaults again to Tehran. And whereas Iran hasn’t centered on the author lately, a decades-old fatwa demanding his killing nonetheless stands.

“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 mentioned.

“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.”

Rushdie, 75, was stabbed Friday whereas attending an occasion in western New York. He suffered a broken liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye fixed, his agent Andrew Wylie mentioned. Rushdie was more likely to lose the injured eye.

His assailant, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not responsible to fees stemming from the assault via his lawyer.

Creator Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked throughout a lecture, on Aug. 12, 2022, on the Chautauqua Establishment in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo.

Rushdie has for greater than 30 years confronted dying threats for “The Satanic Verses.” Iran’s late Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, demanding his dying. A semiofficial Iranian basis had put up a bounty of over $3 million for the writer, although it has but to supply any touch upon the assault.

Police in New York have provided no motive but for the assault, although District Lawyer Jason Schmidt alluded to the bounty on Rushdie in arguing towards bail throughout a listening to Saturday.

“Even if this court were to set a million dollars bail, we stand a risk that bail could be met,” Schmidt mentioned.

Matar was born in the US to oldsters who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon close to the Israeli border, in response to the village’s mayor. Flags of the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah, together with portraits of Hezbollah and Iranian leaders, grasp throughout the village. Israel additionally has bombarded Hezbollah positions close to there up to now.

In Yaroun, village information present Matar holds Lebanese citizenship and is recognized as a Shiite, an official there mentioned. The official, who spoke on situation of anonymity out of safety issues, mentioned Matar’s father nonetheless lives there however has been in seclusion for the reason that assault.

In his remarks Monday, Kanaani added that Iran didn’t “have any other information more than what the American media has reported.” He additionally implied that Rushdie introduced the assault on himself.

“Salman Rushdie exposed himself to popular anger and fury through insulting the sacredness of Islam and crossing the red lines of over 1.5 billion Muslims and also red lines of followers of all divine religions,” Kanaani mentioned.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whereas in a roundabout way blaming Tehran for the assault on Rushdie, made a degree to say Iran in a press release early Monday praising the author’s efforts in supporting freedom of expression and faith.

“Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life,” Blinken mentioned. “This is despicable.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul condemned the assault on Rushdie at a lecture Sunday, saying that “a man with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen.”

Khomeini, ill within the final yr of his life after the grinding, stalemated Eighties Iran-Iraq conflict had decimated the nation’s financial system, issued the fatwa on Rushdie in 1989. The Islamic edict got here amid a violent uproar within the Muslim world over the novel, which some seen as blasphemously making options in regards to the Prophet Muhammad’s life.

Whereas fatwas could be revised or revoked, Iran’s present Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — who took over after Khomeini — has by no means performed so. As not too long ago as February 2017, Khamenei mentioned: “The decree is as Imam Khomeini issued.”

Since 1979, Iran has focused dissidents overseas in assaults. Tensions with the West — significantly the US — have spiked since then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled America out of Iran’s nuclear take care of world powers in 2018.

A Trump-ordered drone strike killed a high Iranian Revolutionary Guard normal in 2020, additional fueling these tensions.

Final week, the U.S. charged a Guard member in absentia for allegedly plotting to kill one-time Trump adviser and Iran hawk John Bolton. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an aide are beneath 24-hour safety over alleged threats from Iran.

In the meantime, U.S. prosecutors say Iran tried to kidnap in 2021 an Iranian opposition activist and author dwelling in New York. In current days, a person with an assault rifle was arrested close to her house.

Different denials from the International Ministry have included Tehran’s switch of weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid that nation’s lengthy civil conflict. Impartial consultants, Western nations and U.N. consultants have traced weapon parts again to Iran.

Related Press author Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

Comply with Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.