Aug 15, 2022 - World

Iran denies involvement in Rushdie attack, blames author and his supporters

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie at an event in March 2020 in New York City. Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The Iranian government on Monday denied any involvement in the stabbing of author Salman Rushdie that took place on Friday, but placed the blame for the attack on Rushdie and his supporters.

Why it matters: The comments are the first official reaction by Iran to the stabbing of Rushdie on stage at an event in New York last week.

What they're saying: “We do not consider anyone other than him and his supporters worthy of blame or even condemnation,” Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said at a press briefing Monday, NBC News reported.

  • “We have not seen anything other than what we heard from the American media,” Kanaani added.
  • “We firmly and strictly deny any connection between the assailant and Iran.”
  • "By insulting the sacred matters 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 anger and rage of the people," Kanaani added, per CBS News.

The big picture: Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and abdomen before being airlifted to a local hospital.

  • An update from his agent Friday evening said that he was on a ventilator unable to speak and that he could lose one eye, the nerves in his arm were severed, and that his liver was stabbed and damaged.
  • On Saturday, Rushdie was taken off the ventilator and could speak a few words.
  • The suspect in the attack, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has been charged with attempted murder.

State of play: In 1989, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran called for Rushdie's death and put a bounty of more than $3 million on his head over his book "The Satanic Verses," which was inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

  • Rushdie subsequently spent nine years in hiding under a British government protection program.
  • Many Muslims consider the book to be blasphemous, and it has been banned in several countries.

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