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Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Iran on Sunday for inciting violence against Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed multiple times on Friday while preparing to give a lecture in New York.
“While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the attack, I am reminded of the pernicious forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence,” Blinken said in a statement.
“Specifically, Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life. This is despicable.”
Rushdie was removed from a ventilator on Saturday and was able to say a few words, his son said. His 1988 book, “The Satanic Verses,” generated controversy in Iran, where the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issue a fatwa, or ruling, calling for his death. Rushdie has lived with this threat across the decades since, including years spent living in hiding.
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with attempted murder and other counts.
Iran’s government has not commented on the attack, but state news outlets have praised the suspect.
“A thousand bravos … to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York,” the Kayhan newspaper, which is overseen by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote over the weekend, according to Reuters.
Twitter suspended Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s account in 2019 for saying that the fatwa against Rushdie was “solid and irrevocable”.
Several Republican lawmakers called on the Biden administration end negotiations around a nuclear deal with Iran in the wake of the attack.
“Iran has offered a bounty to anyone who assassinates Salman Rushdie,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted on Friday. “Today he was stabbed in America. Why is Biden still negotiating a ‘deal’ with these terrorists in Tehran?”
A White House statement did not mention Iran on Friday, but Blinken said the United States won’t tolerate threats.
“The United States and partners will not waver in our determination to stand up to these threats, using every appropriate tool at our disposal,” Blinken said on Sunday.
“The strength of Rushdie — and that of all of those around the world who have endured such threats — steels our resolve and underscores the imperative of standing united as an international community against those who would challenge these universal rights.”