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The front pages of the August 13 edition of the Iranian newspapers focused on the knife attack on Salman Rushdie
Iranian media marked the knifing of Salman Rushdie in rural New York as front page news 33 years after Iran's clerical leadership placed a fatwa on Rushdie's headImage: Vahid Salemi/AP Photo/picture alliance

Iran's hard-line press hail Salman Rushdie attack

August 13, 2022

There was praise from Iran's strongly conservative press for the attack on world-renowned author Salman Rushdie, which has left him on a ventilator. Iran-backed armed group Hezbollah has denied any knowledge.


Iran's religious-leaning newspapers on Saturday heaped praise on the attacker who seriously wounded author Salman Rushdie a day earlier.

The 75-year-old writer, who was the subject of a 1989 Iranian death fatwa for perceived blasphemy in his novel "The Satanic Verses," was badly wounded in an attack on Friday.

What's the response from Iran's hardliners?

While there has been no official reaction from Iran to the stabbing, the hard-line Kayhan newspaper praised the alleged assailant, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey. The man, who was charged Saturday with attempted murder, is being held without bond, prosecutors in Chautauqua County, New York said.

The paper, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote that the suspect deserved "a thousand bravos."

Khamenei has himself refused to revoke the fatwa, or edict, against Rushdie and has been quoted as saying that the "arrow" shot by his predecessor who issued it "will one day hit the target."

The Asr Iran news site on Saturday carried that quote, while the Khorasan daily carried the headline: "Satan on the way to hell."

Hezbollah denies any knowledge

An official from Iran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah on Saturday said the group had no additional information on Rushdie's stabbing.

"We don't know anything about this subject so we will not comment," the official told Reuters news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Novelist Salman Rushdie stabbed in New York

What happened to the writer?

Rushdie was due to deliver a lecture on how the United States offers asylum for artists in exile when the stabbing took place at the Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) southwest of Buffalo in New York state.

A man ran to the stage as Rushdie was about to deliver a lecture. He attacked the author and stabbed him repeatedly, witnesses said.

Audience members ran to the stage and took the suspect to the ground, before a trooper arrested him. A doctor in the audience administered medical care until emergency first responders arrived.

Rushdie still had a pulse and did not require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after the attack, but was put on a ventilator later.

There are fears that he could lose one eye. Rushdie also suffered severed nerves in his arms and damage to his liver during the attack.

Who is Salman Rushdie?

Rushdie spent years in hiding after Iran's late leader Grand Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, that called for Rushdie's death.

Some Muslims considered his book "The Satanic Verses" to be disrespectful of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

Questions have arisen over the level of security for the event, given the threats against Rushdie and the fact that he had a bounty on his head.

Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC, said, "There's no other reason this young man did what he did. He thought he was doing something on behalf of his culture and his faith." Ahmed added, "It's easy to understand where this is coming from, and that is why this is such a terrible and tragic event."

In a recent, yet-to-be-published interview with the German news magazine Stern, Rushdie said his life was now "relatively normal" having lived more openly in recent years.

Rushdie has received worldwide accolades for his work, including winning the Booker Prize in 1981 for his book Midnight's Children. As one of Britain's most esteemed authors, he was knighted in 2007 for his services to literature.

Rushdie was born into an Indian Muslim family in 1947 and identifies as an atheist. He obtained US citizenship in 2016 and lives in New York City.

rc/aw (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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