An Iranian government official denied Tehran was involved in the attack on writer Salman Rushdie on Monday, though he justified the stabbing in comments that represent the Islamic Republic’s first public comments on the attack.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani’s remarks came more than two days after Rushdie was attacked in New York. According to his family, the writer has now been taken off the ventilator and is recovering.

However, Iran has denied carrying out other operations abroad to target dissidents in the years following the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, despite prosecutors and Western governments holding Tehran responsible for such attacks. is ordained. And while Iran hasn’t focused on the author in recent years, a decades-old fatwa calling for his assassination still stands.

“With regard to the attack against Salman Rushdie in the US, we do not deem anyone worthy of condemnation, blame or censure except himself (Rushdie) and his supporters,” Canaani said.

“In this regard, no one can blame the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “We believe that the insult and the support he received was an insult to followers of all religions.”

Rushdie, 75, was stabbed Friday while attending an event in western New York. His agent, Andrew Wyllie, said his liver was damaged and nerves in an arm and an eye were broken. Rushdie was likely to lose his injured eye.

His attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to the charges stemming from the assault.

Rushdie has faced death threats for “The Satanic Verses” for more than 30 years. Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or Islamic fatwa, demanding his death. A semi-official Iranian foundation had placed a bounty of more than $3 million for the author, although it has yet to comment on the attack.

Police in New York have yet to state a motive for the attack, though District Attorney Jason Schmidt pointed to a bounty on Rushdie in his arguments against bail during a hearing on Saturday.

“Even if this court sets a million-dollar bail, we still risk getting bail,” Schmidt said.

According to the village mayor, Matar was born in the United States to parents who immigrated from Yarun in southern Lebanon, near the Israeli border. Flags of the Iranian-backed Shia terrorist group Hezbollah, along with pictures of Hezbollah and Iranian leaders, hang across the village. Israel has also bombed Hezbollah targets near there in the past.

In his remarks on Monday, Canaanite said Iran had “no other information than what the US media reports.” He also said that Rushdie attacked himself.

“Salman Rushdie exposed himself to popular anger and fury by insulting the sanctity of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than 1.5 billion Muslims and followers of all divine religions,” the Canaanite said. .

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while not directly blaming Tehran for the attack on Rushdie, praised the author’s efforts in support of freedom of expression and religion, referring to Iran in a statement early Monday.

“Iranian state institutions have instigated violence against Rushdie for generations, and state media have reported recent attempts on his life,” Blinken said. “It’s despicable.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul condemned the attack on Rushdie in a lecture Sunday, saying that “a man with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen.”

Khomeini, in poor health in the last year of his life after the grinding, Iran-Iraq war that devastated the country’s economy in the 1980s, issued a fatwa on Rushdie in 1989. The Islamic fatwa came amid violent uproar in the Muslim world. The novel, which was seen by some as blasphemy, as suggesting about the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

While the fatwa could be amended or repealed, Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – who took over after Khomeini – never did so. As recently as February 2017, Khamenei said: “The decree is the same as that issued by Imam Khomeini.”

Iran has targeted dissidents abroad in attacks since 1979. Tensions with the West – particularly the United States – have risen since President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.

Trump-ordered drone strikes killed a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard general in 2020, fueling those tensions.

Last week, the US once charged a Guard member in absentia for allegedly plotting to kill Trump adviser and Iran hawk John Bolton. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an aide are under 24-hour security over alleged threats from Iran.

Meanwhile, US prosecutors say Iran tried to kidnap an Iranian opposition activist and writer living in New York in 2021.

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