US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday condemned Iran for inciting violence against author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed in New York on Friday.
“We join those across the country and around the world who are keeping Salman Rushdie in our thoughts in the aftermath of this heinous attack. More than a literary giant, Rushdie has consistently stood up for the universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of the press,” said Blinken in a statement.
“While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the attack, I am reminded of the pernicious forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence,” he added.
“Specifically, Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life. This is despicable,” continued Blinken.
“The United States and partners will not waver in our determination to stand up to these threats, using every appropriate tool at our disposal. The strength of Rushdie — and that of all of those around the world who have endured such threats — steels our resolve and underscores the imperative of standing united as an international community against those who would challenge these universal rights,” concluded the Secretary of State.
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.
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.
On Sunday, reports said that Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old man accused of stabbing Rushdie, had been in direct contact with members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on social media.
Despite this, however, sources said there is no evidence Iranian officials were involved in organizing or orchestrating the attack on Rushdie.