Conservative Iranian media hailed on Saturday the attacker who stabbed novelist Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday.
Iran has yet to officially comment on the incident, but the Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by the supreme leader, declared “a thousand salutes” to the brave man who attacked “the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York.”
“One must kiss the hand of the man who wounded the enemy of God,” it added.
Rushdie remained hospitalized on Saturday with serious injuries a day after he was repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in New York state, while police sought to determine the motive behind an attack that drew international condemnation.
The accused attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance on Saturday.
Rushdie, 75, was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at Chautauqua Institution in western New York when police say Matar rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer, who has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” prompted Iran to urge his killing.
Rushdie, who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay, now Mumbai, before moving to Britain, has long faced death threats for “The Satanic Verses,” viewed by some Muslims as containing blasphemous passages. The book was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations.
In 1989, Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to kill the author and anyone involved in the book's publication for blasphemy. Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the novel, was stabbed to death in 1991 in a case that remains unsolved.
Iranian organizations, some linked to the government, have raised a bounty worth millions of dollars for Rushdie's murder. Khomeini's successor as supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said as recently as 2019 that the fatwa was “irrevocable.”
The Asr-e Iran quoted on Saturday Khamenei as once saying that the “arrow” once fired by Khomeini “will one day hit its target”, meaning Rushdie.
The Vatan-e Emrooz daily’s main headline read: “A knife in Salma Rushdie’s neck” and Khorasan News headlined: “The devil on his way to Hell”.