The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie said he respected Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but would not say whether he was inspired by a fatwa issued by the former Iranian leader, according to a New York Post interview published Wednesday.
Hadi Matar also told the Post that he had “only read a few pages” of Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” and that a tweet last winter announcing the author’s visit to the Chautauqua Institution gave him a idea to go there.
Rushdie, 75, was scheduled to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at the western New York venue when police said 24-year-old Matar rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer on Friday last week.
Rushdie has lived with a bounty on his head since “The Satanic Verses” published in 1988 prompted Khomeini to issue a fatwa urging Muslims to kill him.
“I respect the Ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” the Post quoted Matar as saying in a video interview from the Chautauqua County Jail.
“I didn’t like him very much,” Matar said of Rushdie.
“He was someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, their belief systems,” he told the Post, adding that he had watched Rushdie’s YouTube videos.
Matar denied that he was in contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the Post reported.
Matar, of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault in a court appearance on Saturday, Barone told Reuters.
Matar also told the Post that he took a bus to Buffalo the day before the attack and then took a Lyft to Chautauqua.
“I was hanging around pretty much. Not doing anything in particular, just walking around,” he told the Post, adding that he slept on the grass Thursday night.
“I was outside the whole time,” the paper quoted him as saying.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)