Iranian state media on Friday condemned author Salman Rushdie, calling him an “apostate” and his writings “blasphemous” after the Indian-born writer was stabbed before a speech in New York.
Rushdie was stabbed in the neck by an attacker before giving a speech at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday after living for more than 30 years under a fatwa calling for his death issued by the Iranian ayatollah in response to his book “The Satanic Verses.”
The Islamic Republic News Agency, which described Rushdie as having been “attacked by knife,” called him an “apostate author.”
It also described “The Satanic Verses” as a “blasphemous novel about Islam.”
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Meanwhile, FARS News, another regime-owned outlet, also described him as an “apostate” and accused him of having “insulted the Prophet of Islam (PBUH)” with the book’s “anti-religious content.”
“The Satanic Verses” was published in 1988 and sparked violent protests across the globe from Muslims at what they viewed as blasphemous writing. The fatwa was issued shortly after in 1989. Rushdie has been an outspoken supporter and a symbol of freedom of expression against religious extremism — but has required around-the-clock security.
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“It is free speech that makes it possible for us to be free people. Unfortunately, there are those who wish us not to be free, who would rather use the assassin’s veto to compel belief and silence dissent,” the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression told Fox News Digital in a statement following the attack on Rushdie. “Mr. Rushdie has long understood free speech’s necessity. He is among its strongest advocates: ‘Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game.’”
The Iranian regime has stood by the fatwa, with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeting in 2019 that the fatwa “is based on divine verses, and just like divine verses, it is solid and irrevocable.”
The attack comes days after the Justice Department revealed charges against an Iran Revolutionary Guards Corp member for an alleged plot to kill former national security adviser John Bolton. The plot is believed to be in retaliation for the 2020 killing of IRGC Quds Forces Leader Qassem Soleimani, who was taken out in an airstrike.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.