EVAN AGOSTINI FILE INVISION AP DUBAI - No one has the right to level accusations against Iran over Friday's attack on Salman Rushdie, for which he and his supporters are solely to blame, the foreign ministry in Tehran said on Monday.
The novelist who has been under threat for decades since enraging clerical authorities in Iran through his writing, is recovering after being stabbed repeatedly at a public appearance in New York.
In Iran's first official reaction to Friday's attack, ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said freedom of speech did not justify Rushdie's insults against religion. His 1988 novel The Satanic Verses is viewed by some Muslims as containing blasphemous passages.
Kanaani said at a news conference that they did not consider anyone other than himself and his supporters worthy of reproach, reproach and condemnation during the attack on Salman Rushdie. No one has a right to accuse Iran in this regard. Writers and politicians around the world have condemned the attack.
US 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.
Since The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, the Indian-born writer has had a bounty on his head. The following year, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in the book's publication.
The Iranian government said in 1998 it would no longer back the fatwa.
But in 2019 Twitter suspended Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's account over a tweet that said Rushdie's fatwa against Rushdie was solid and irrevocable ALSO READ: Salman Rushdie still hospitalized as attack suspect pleads not guilty.
Rushdie, 75, has lived relatively openly in recent years.
He was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on the importance of the United States as a haven for targeted artists when a 24 year-old man rushed the stage and stabbed him.
The suspect in the stabbing, Hadi Matar, of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance on Saturday, his court-appointed lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, told Reuters.
According to NBC New York, an initial law enforcement review of Matar's social media accounts showed he was sympathetic to Shi'ite extremism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Washington accuses the IRGC of carrying out a global extremist campaign.
According to Kanaani, Rushdie had exposed himself to popular outrage by insulting Islamic sanctities and crossing the red lines of 1.5 billion Muslims. He said Iran had no other information about the novelist's suspected assailant except what appeared in media.
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Hardline Iranian state media outlets celebrated the attack with headlines including Satan has been blinded and some Iranians have voiced support online for the stabbing.
According to Ali Tehfe, the city's mayor, Matar was the son of a man from Yaroun in southern Lebanon. The mayor said Matar's parents emigrated to the United States, where he was born and raised, and he had no information on their political views.
The Iranian armed group Hezbollah holds a major sway in Yaroun, where posters of Khomeini and IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani were slain at the weekend, who was killed by a US drone strike in 2020.
A Hezbollah official told Reuters on Saturday that the group had no additional information on the attack on Rushdie.