The man arrested in connection with the assassination of Salman Rushdie expresses his admiration for Ayatollah Khomeini, but refuses to say whether he was inspired by the religious decree (fatfa) issued by the former supreme leader of Iran in 1989, in an interview published today by the newspaper New York Post.
Hadi Mattar says he had read “only a few pages” of Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses and claims a Twitter post announcing the author’s visit to the Chotoku Foundation gave him the idea to attend the event.
Rushdie, 75, was preparing to deliver a speech on artistic freedom at this New York institution last Friday when – according to police – 24-year-old Mattar rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born author.
Rushdie lived for years in the limelight after the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988 caused an uproar in the Muslim world, with Khomeini issuing a fatfa calling for the “blasphemous” author’s murder.
“I respect the Ayatollah (Khomeini). I think he was a great man. I won’t say anything more about that,” Mattar said in a video interview with the New York Post from the Chotocqua County Jail.
“I don’t really like him,” Mattar said afterward when asked about Rushdie. “He is someone who attacked Islam, the beliefs of Muslims,” he claimed, noting that he had watched interviews with the author on YouTube.
Hadi Matar denied having contacts with the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.
The lawyer appointed by a court to handle Mattar’s defense said he was unaware of his client’s interview with the American newspaper. “I did not give permission for anyone to contact my client,” Nathaniel Baron told Reuters.
At his court appearance on Saturday, Hadi Mattar had pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault against Salman Rushdie, who is in a serious condition in hospital but is said to have escaped danger.