'He attacked Islam': Salman Rushdie's attacker 'surprised' author is alive
The New Jersey man accused of attacking renowned author Salman Rushdie last week is reportedly "surprised" that he is alive. Admitting he didn't think Rushdie would survive, he also praised former Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for his "fatwa" against Rushdie. Meanwhile, Rushdie, who was stabbed at least 10 times, has been taken off the ventilator and is "on the road to recovery."
Why does this story matter?
To recall, Rushdie sparked a major controversy with his fourth book, The Satanic Verses, released in 1988. The Indian-born British author has also faced death threats, which forced him to go into hiding. Some Muslims were outraged by his novel's theme. They regarded it as blasphemous, which led to its ban in some countries. Anti-Rushdie riots in India and Iran also claimed several lives.
'Surprised that Rusdhie is alive'
The attacker, Hadi Matar, spoke to New York Post at the Chautauqua County Jail, where he is currently being detained. "When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess," Matar said, admitting that he has only read a few pages of The Satanic Verses. "I read a couple [of] pages. I didn't read the whole thing cover to cover," he added.
Praise for Khomeini, dislike for Rushdie
The 24-year-old reportedly remained silent when asked about being inspired by Khomeini's edict calling for Rushdie's death in 1989. However, he praised Khomeini and said, "I respect Ayatollah, I think he is a great person." He also denied being in touch with Iran's security forces and said that he acted completely alone. Matar further added, "Rushdie attacked Islam... I don't like him very much."
Matar's mysterious visit to Iran in 2018
According to Matar's mother, the 24-year-old "changed" after his visit to Iran in 2018. Matar went on a trip to the Middle Eastern country to visit his father and allegedly became more religious after returning. "He isolated himself in my basement... He had changed a lot, he didn't say anything to me or his sisters for months," his mother, Silvana Fardos, told Daily Mail.
'Slept on the grass outside the night before'
Matar was taken into custody almost immediately after he attacked Rushdie at a seminar in Chautauqua last week. He informed New York Post that he traveled to the venue from New Jersey by bus a day before. "I was hanging around pretty much. Not doing anything in particular, just walking around," Matar said, adding that he slept on the grass outside the night before.
Author stabbed 10 times in neck
The author was attacked on Friday during a seminar at the Chautauqua Institution, New York. He was reportedly stabbed 10 times in the neck and is suffering from severed nerves in his arm and eye. His liver has also been damaged, as per his literary agent Andrew Wylie. Rushdie was airlifted from the venue after the attack but is said to be recovering now.