The Iranian government on Monday denied involvement in the attempted murder of author Salman Rushdie on Friday and claimed that Rushdie brought the attack on himself by "insulting Islam."
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told reporters that "we categorically deny" any involvement in the attack, adding: “No one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“In this attack, we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation," Kanaani said
“By insulting the sacred matters of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than one and a half billion Muslims and all followers of the divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the anger and rage of the people.”
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.
On Sunday, Rushdie’s son Zafar Rushdie wrote on Twitter that his father was in critical condition and had sustained “life changing” injuries, but had been taken off a ventilator and had been able to speak.
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.