Salman Rushdie himself to blame for attack – Iran

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The writer crossed “the red lines” of 1.5 billion Muslims, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran said

Iran on Monday denied any involvement in the attack on Salman Rushdie and claimed that the award-winning novelist himself and his supporters are to blame for the incident.

The Indian-born British-American writer was stabbed on Friday at an education center in New York state as he was preparing to give a lecture in front of a packed audience. A possible motive for the assault is his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, which was condemned by some Muslims for its allegedly blasphemous references to Islam and its holy book, the Koran.

Speaking at a weekly press conference, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said that Tehran “has no information about the person who had attacked Rushdie other than what was announced by the US media.” He added that his country “seriously and categorically” denies any link to the attack and stressed that “no one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

No one deserves to be blamed except Rushdie and his supporters,” Kanaani said, adding that anger over Rushdie’s works “has not been limited to Iran and the Islamic Republic.

By crossing the red lines of more than one and a half billion Muslims and followers of all divine religions, he {Rushdie} exposed himself to the wrath of the people,” the spokesman explained.

Kanaani’s statement marks the first official reaction of Tehran to the shocking attack. It came the day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life.”

This is despicable,” the top US diplomat said.

Meanwhile, the writer, who was stabbed 12 times, remains in critical condition but has been taken off a ventilator and “was able to say a few words,” his son Zafar said on Sunday.

Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact,” Zafar Rushdie said in a statement.

In 1989, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death. As a result, the writer was forced to spend years in hiding with round-the-clock police protection.

The fatwa is still viewed by many as active, despite the Iranian government’s public commitment in 1998 to “neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie.

In 2005, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards declared that the death sentence on Rushdie is still valid. In 2012, an Iranian religious organization called the 15 Khordad Foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie’s killing by $500,000 to $3.3 million. Four years later, 40 state-run media outlets in Iran pooled together to raise $600,000 to add to the reward for carrying out the fatwa.

In 2019, Twitter suspended the account of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, over a tweet that said the fatwa against Rushdie was “solid and irrevocable.”

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