An Iranian government official blamed Salman Rushdie and “his supporters” on Monday after the author was stabbed repeatedly in an attack, claiming Iran does not bare any responsibility.
“We, in the incident of the attack on Salman Rushdie in the U.S., do not consider that anyone deserves blame and accusations except him and his supporters,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a briefing, marking the first government response to the attack, the Associated Press reported.
“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 after a suspect rushed on stage while he was preparing to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He was stabbed in the neck and abdomen, suffered damage to his liver and arm, and is likely to lose his eye, according to his agent, Andrew Wylie.
He has been taken off the ventilator, is able to speak again, and is on the road to recovery, Wylie said Sunday.
The author was under threat for years after publishing his book, The Satanic Verses, in 1988. The book included what the former and first supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, thought to be a blasphemous depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the author to be killed in 1989 and an Iranian religious foundation issued a reward of over $3 million for the death of Rushdie.
Twenty-four-year-old Hadi Matar, the suspect, was charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree. A review of his social media account found that he “is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGS) causes,” but there are no definitive links between Matar and the IRGS, and he has [pleaded] not guilty.