Salman Rushdie’s alleged assailant has claimed he has only ever read two pages of the author’s novel The Satanic Verses.
Hadi Matar has been charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault, after the incident a week ago, when the Booker prize-winning author was stabbed on stage at a conference where he was about to talk about free speech. Matar has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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The Iran-supporting extremist is being held in jail, from where he gave an interview to The New York Post, in which:
He said he had only read two pages of The Satanic Verses, Rushdie’s 1988 novel that caused Iran’s then leader to declare a fatwa against him.
Matar did not confirm his alleged actions were driven by the fatwa, saying only that he respected the Ayatollah – “he’s a great person” – and that Rushdie was “someone who attacked Islam.”
He said he was surprised that Rushdie had survived the attack.
The Post reported Matar saying of Rushdie: “I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person. I don’t like him very much. He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”
Rushdie remains in hospital following last week’s attack, when he suffered a damaged liver as well as severed nerves in an arm and eye injuries. His family has reported that he has been taken off a ventilator and is in good spirits.
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