Iran: Rushdie and supporters to blame for attack

STORY: Iran's government on Monday said that the vicious knife attack that landed novelist Salman Rushdie in the hospital was the fault of the author, and his supporters, not the Islamic Republic.

In Iran's first official Statement since the attack, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said freedom of speech did not justify Rushdie's insults against religion.

“We don’t see any other parties who should be blamed or condemned, other than his own person and his supporters. [FLASH] Freedom of expression of ideas and such similar slogans, cannot justify insults against religious beliefs and fundamental of Islam."

Writers and politicians around the world have condemned the attack.

The seventy-five-year-old Rushdie was stabbed repeatedly on stage last week at an event in Chautauqua, in upstate New York.

Rushdie rose to fame with the 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses," which some Muslim religious authorities deemed blasphemous and prompted Iran's Supreme Leader to issue a fatwa, or edict, calling on Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in the book's publication.

Living with a bounty on his head, the Indian-born Rushdie became a symbol of artistic freedom in the face of state repression and religious censorship.

"A man with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen.”

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on Sunday traveled to Chautauqua and condemned the attack.

“Mr. Rushdie spent more than a decade of his life in hiding and finally said, ‘No more. I'm coming out. I'm coming out of the shadows. I will not be bound by fear or a threat.’ And to those of us who go about our daily lives, if that's not an inspiration, I don't know what is."

Rushdie was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on the importance of the United States as a haven for targeted artists, when police say a 24-year-old man rushed the stage and stabbed him.

The author was airlifted to a hospital in Rochester. His agent told Reuters that Rushdie had sustained severe injuries, including nerve damage to his arm and wounds to his liver, and was likely to lose an eye.

The suspect, Hadi Matar of New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault on Saturday.

"We don't have any information about the individual who carried out this action other than what's been reported in the U.S. media."

Iran on Monday denied any association with the alleged attacker.

In 1998, the Iranian government said the fatwa on Rushdie was over.

But just three years ago, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that the edict was “irrevocable.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that Iranian state institutions had incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media had gloated about the attempt on his life.