Crime & Justice

Rushdie stabbing in US triggers varying reactions in Iran

Tehran, Aug 14 (EFE).- Reactions in Iran to the attack against prominent author Salman Rushdie have ranged from blessings from religious leaders and newspapers, silence from the authorities and conflicting opinions in the streets.

The Indian-born British-American writer was at a literary event in upstate New York when he was allegedly stabbed by Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey on Friday.

Matar is believed to be a sympathizer of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, considered the hardliners within the Iranian regime.

The author has been the subject of death threats for years due to a 1989 fatwa – an Islamic legal decree – issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s then-supreme leader, that called for Rushdie’s assassination in response to his book The Satanic Verses, which many Muslims regard as blasphemous and insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran’s authorities have been conspicuously silent, with hardly any officials this week discussing the attack or Khomeini’s fatwa.

The only exception is cleric Jalal Mohebi, who defended the attack on the “cursed” writer because he “insulted the Koran and the Prophet of Islam” in his book.

“Imam Khomeini declared him an apostate, and when someone is declared an apostate it is permissible to kill him,” Mohebi told Efe at the Saleh shrine in Tehran, adding that he believes that the attack was not “enough” because the writer did not die.

Most of the people at the sanctuary declined to comment on the attack. One of the few people who agreed to speak to Efe, Mohamad Mashadi, celebrated it.

“We appreciate what he (Matar) did. I would have done the same,” the 57-year-old metalworker said.

Most of the conservative media outlets have also welcomed the attack, including Keyhan, which is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which wrote “Divine vengeance reaches Salman Rushdie; Trump and Pompeo are next”.

The daily “Jaam-e Jam” headlined its front page: “The devil’s eye has been blinded”, accompanied by a photo of Rushdie portrayed as a demon surrounded by fire with one eye missing.

In the streets of Tehran, the opinions of pedestrians ranged from little support to indifference to rejection, with the majority of those Efe asked refusing to comment.

“Rushdie insulted the prophet and at the time something should have been done against him, but after so many years not even Iran remembered him. It was better to forget the subject,” a middle-aged businessman told Efe.

Javad, a 37-year-old theater director, was against the attack: “I am against violence, what has happened does not seem right to me”, while some, particularly younger people, did not even know who Rushdie is. EFE


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