An Iranian foundation has praised the man who attacked novelist Salman Rushdie last year, leaving him severely injured, and said it will reward him with 1,000 square metres of agricultural land, state TV reported on Tuesday, February 21 through its Telegram channel.
Acclaimed author, Rushdie, 75, lost an eye and the use of one hand following the assault by a 24-year-old Shi’ite Muslim American from New Jersey on the stage of a literary event held near Lake Erie in western New York in August 2022.
The attack came 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to assassinate Rushdie a few months after “The Satanic Verses” was published. Some Muslims saw passages in the novel about the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.
Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim Kashmiri family, has lived with a bounty on his head, and spent nine years in hiding under British police protection.
While Iran’s pro-reform government of President Mohammad Khatami distanced itself from the fatwa in the late 1990s, the multimillion-dollar bounty hanging over Rushdie’s head kept growing and the fatwa was never lifted.
Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was suspended from Twitter in 2019 for saying the fatwa against Rushdie was “irrevocable.”
“We sincerely thank the brave action of the young American who made Muslims happy by blinding one of Rushdie’s eyes and disabling one of his hands,” said Mohammad Esmail Zarei, secretary of the Foundation to Implement Imam Khomeini’s Fatwas.
“Rushdie is now no more than living dead and to honour this brave action, about 1,000 square metres of agricultural land will be donated to the person or any of his legal representatives,” Zarei added.
The man accused of attacking the novelist has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.