Rishi Sunak, one of two candidates seeking to become Britain’s next Prime Minister, said that Friday’s attack on author Salman Rushdie should serve as a wake-up call to the West over Iran, Reuters reported, citing the Sunday Telegraph.
Indian-born author Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and torso on stage at a lecture in New York state. After hours of surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak as of Friday evening.
While there has been no official government reaction in Iran to the attack on Rushdie, several hard-line Iranian newspapers praised his assailant.
“The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie should be a wake-up call for the West, and Iran’s reaction to the attack strengthens the case for proscribing the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps),” Sunak, Britain’s former Finance Minister, said, according to the paper.
Sunak, referring to stuttering talks between Iran and the West to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, added, “We urgently need a new, strengthened deal and much tougher sanctions, and if we can’t get results then we have to start asking whether the JCPOA is at a dead end.”
“The situation in Iran is extremely serious and in standing up to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin we can’t take our eye off the ball elsewhere,” Sunak said.
Eyewitnesses said that Rushdie was stabbed 10 to 15 times during Friday’s attack. Rushdie fell to the floor immediately, as the attacker was restrained, they added.
Rushdie, who was taken to hospital by helicopter and treated for stab wounds to his liver, arm, and one eye, may lose the use of one of his eyes.
The suspect in the attack, Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested at the scene by a state trooper. He is charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree, and was remanded without bail.
Rushdie since 1989 has been the target of an Iranian fatwa calling for his murder for allegedly blaspheming Islam and its prophet Mohammed in his book "The Satanic Verses."
In 2012, an Iranian foundation added another $500,000 to the reward for killing Rushdie, raising the total bounty for his death to $3.3 million.
Rushdie spent a decade in hiding after Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the 1989 fatwa against him for his book.
Although Iran's foreign ministry in 1998 assured Britain that Iran would do nothing to implement the fatwa, current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January 2005 reaffirmed that Rushdie was considered an apostate whose murder was authorized under Islam.
In 2019, Twitter temporarily banned an account connected to Khamenei after it posted a message threatening Rushdie.