Salman Rushdie striker ‘surprised’ perpetrator survived

MAYVILLE, NY (AP) — The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie at a conference in western New York said in an interview he was surprised to learn the accomplished author had survived the attack.

Speaking to the New York Post from prison, Hadi Matar said he decided to see Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution after seeing a tweet last winter about the writer’s planned appearance.

“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” Matar told the newspaper. “He is someone who attacked Islam. He attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.

Matar, 24, said he considers late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to be “a great person”, but did not say whether he was following a fatwa, or edict, issued by Khomeini in Iran in 1989 which called for Rushdie’s death after the author published “The Satanic Verses.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack. Matar, who lives in Fairview, New Jersey, said he had no contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He told the Post that he had only read “a few pages” of “The Satanic Verses.”

Rushdie, 75, suffered liver damage and severed nerves in an arm and eye, according to his agent, in Friday’s attack. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said his condition had improved and he was on the road to recovery.

Matar, who is charged with attempted murder and assault, told the Post he took a bus to Buffalo the day before the attack and then a Lyft to Chautauqua, about 40 miles away.

He bought a pass to the grounds of the Chautauqua facility, then slept on the grass the night before Rushdie’s scheduled lecture.

Matar was born in the United States but holds dual citizenship in Lebanon, where his parents were born. His mother told reporters in interviews that Matar returned changed from a visit to see his father in Lebanon in 2018. After that, he became sullen and withdrew from his family, she said .

Lola R. McClure