Author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and abdomen by an attacker identified as 25-year-old Hadi Matar in New York last week. The celebrated 75-year-old author has faced years of death threats since the publication of his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ in 1988. Soon after the reports of the attack came out, the fingers were pointed toward the fatwa that was issued in Tehran three decades ago calling for Rushdie’s assassination. Iran, trying to deny any link between the attack and the fatwa, washed its hands off the attack and instead blamed Rushdie and his supporters for the attack.
Notably, Iranian media have been extensively gloating over the attack and have called it ‘divine retribution’. Reacting to the media reports that Rushdie may lose one eye following the attack, Iran’s state broadcaster Jaam-e Jam said, “An eye of Satan has been blinded.” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had termed Iran’s media’s behavior ‘despicable.’
On August 15 (local time), Nasser Kanaani Tehran, foreign ministry spokesperson of Iran, categorically denied any links between the attacker and the Islamic country. He said, “No one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Notably, he said Freedom of Speech does not give the right to Rushdie to insult Islam in his writings.
Blaming Salman Rushdie for the attack, Nasser said, “In this attack, we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation,” during the weekly press conference. He added, “By insulting the sacred matters of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than 1.5 billion Muslims and all followers of the divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the anger and rage of the people.”
Furthermore, according to Nasser, Iran did not have any information about the attacker except what was publicly available in international media reports. Notably, the accused named Hadi Matar had used a fake driver’s license bearing the name Hassan Mughniyah. This name is a mix of two senior officials of the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah. The Hezbollah’s current leader is Hassan Nasrallah while Imad Mughniyeh was a senior Hezbollah official close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani.
It is noteworthy that when Satanic Verses was launched, then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, calling for his assassination, and placed a bounty of $3 million on his head. The fatwa is still active though the Iranian government has distanced itself from the decree. Later in 2012, a quasi-official Iranian religious foundation added $500,000 to the bounty.
Nupur Sharma blamed for the murders of Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kohle
Blaming Rushdie and his supporters for the attack has striking similarities to former Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokesperson Nupur Sharma getting blamed for the murders of Hindu tailor Kanhaiya Lal from Udaipur and Hindu Businessman Umesh Kohle from Amravati.
Both Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kohle were killed for extending their support to Nupur Sharma on social media platforms. Notably, Sharma was suspended from the party for her comments on Prophet Mohammed. Sharma is constantly facing threats to her life and has been hiding ever since Alt News’ co-founder Mohammed Zubair opened a floodgate of threats against her by publishing an out-of-context video on Twitter.
Following their brutal murder of Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kohle, several hashtags blaming Sharma went viral on social media. Even the Supreme Court Judges blamed her for the unrest in the country instead of pointing fingers at the actual perpetrators of the violence. In its oral observations, SC Judges blamed Nupur Sharma for her ‘loose tongue’ and refused to give her interim relief. It was only after the public uproar that Sharma got some relief from the court, and all FIRs against her were clubbed and transferred to Delhi.