Iran Praises Attack on Salman Rushdie, Denies Involvement

Iran’s foreign ministry denied responsibility for the attempted assassination of Salman Rushdie and said the author’s writings justified the stabbing attack.


Iran’s foreign ministry denied responsibility for the attempted assassination of Salman Rushdie and said the author’s writings justified the stabbing attack.

  • A spokesman said Iran “categorically” denies any link with the stabbing but made clear “we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation” and Rushdie’s writings “exposed himself to the anger and rage of the people.”
  • The foreign ministry’s comments are the first official statement from the Islamic Republic, although state-affiliated newspapers praised the attack. An ayatollah-appointed newspaper editor wrote, “A thousand bravoes…to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie.”
  • The official denial came one day after Vice News reported the suspect in the stabbing attack on the celebrated author, Hadi Matar, “had contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.” A NATO official told Vice the stabbing had “all the hallmarks of a ‘guided’ attack.”
  • Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel The Satanic Verses sparked outrage in some corners of the Muslim world. The author lived in hiding for years after Iran’s religious dictatorship issued a fatwa calling for his murder in 1989. A Japanese translator of the novel was murdered in 1991 and two other translators were assaulted in the early 1990s.
  • Western leaders uniformly condemned the attack on Rushdie as an assault on free expression and freedom of religion. Rushdie’s agent said Sunday he is “on the road to recovery” from his “severe,” “life-changing injuries.”
  • The stabbing attack is the latest assassination attempt against Iran’s enemies on American soil. Dissident Masih Alinejad has twice faced attempts to kidnap or murder her, while three former Trump administration officials – John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Brian Hook – are under 24-hour security due to threats from the Islamic Republic.
  • Matar, the alleged attacker, pled not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times covered Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement on the “despicable” attack on Rushdie. Blinken slammed Iran for having “incited violence against Rushdie for generations” and where “state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life.”
  • The Guardian reported Rushdie suffered 10 knife injuries: three stab wounds in his neck, four to his stomach, and one each to his right eye, his chest, and his stomach. The celebrated author has nerve and liver damage and will likely lose his right eye.
  • CNN noted it is still unclear how Rushdie’s attacker was able to enter the event with a knife. Rushdie’s attacker had no prior criminal history and could face up to 32 years in prison for his crimes.



  • The Wall Street Journal wrote that while a reformist Iranian president said the threats on Rushdie’s life were “completely over” in 1998, later Iranian leaders have made clear the 1989 fatwa calling for Rushdie’s murder remained in effect.
  • The Telegraph reported the American-born attacker became radicalized after visiting his father in Lebanon in 2018. The father has refused to comment on his son’s actions, while his mother said, “I’m not going to bother talking to him again. He’s responsible for his actions.”
  • Per Fox News, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi expressed “relief” and hopes for “swift healing” for Salman Rushdie, her ex-husband. The longtime TV personality said she had been “worried and wordless” but news of his recovery meant she “can finally exhale.”

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© Dominic Moore, 2022