The country’s first official public denial of involvement in the assault on author Salman Rushdie came from an Iranian government official on Monday.
The remarks by Nasser Kanaani, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, come more than two days after Rushdie was attacked in New York.
However, despite Western governments and prosecutors attributing previous operations targeting dissidents to Tehran in the years following the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran has denied carrying them out.
“We, in the incident of the attack on Salman Rushdie in the US, do not consider that anyone deserves blame and accusations except him and his supporters,” Kanaani said. “Nobody has right to accuse Iran in this regard.”
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The attack on Rushdie, 75, happened on Friday when he was at an event in western New York. According to his agency, he had a damaged liver as well as severed nerves in one arm and an eye. He was probably going to lose the damaged eye.
Through a lawyer, his attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, entered a not-guilty plea to the counts related to the assault.
For more over 30 years, the acclaimed novelist has received death threats because of “The Satanic Verses.” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran, had demanded his execution in a fatwa, or Islamic decree. A bounty of more than $3 million had been offered for the author by an Iranian foundation.
Kanaani added that Iran did not “have any other information more than what the American media has reported.”
Kanaani argued that Rushdie’s writings’ insults of religion are not justified by the right to free expression.
The West “condemning the actions of the attacker and in return glorifying the actions of the insulter to Islamic beliefs is a contradictory attitude,” Kanaani said.