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'Surprised He Survived': Salman Rushdie's Attacker in Interview

The attack, Hadi Matar, said that he had read only a couple of pages from Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses'.

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Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old man from New Jersey's Fairview who had allegedly stabbed Salman Rushdie on Friday, 12 August, told the New York Post that he was surprised to learn that the Indian-origin British author had survived the attack.

In a video interview for the publication, which was put out on Wednesday, the jailed suspect who has pleaded not guilty for the attempted murder and assault charges in the case, said, "When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess."

The interview was taken at Chautauqua County Jail where Matar is currently lodged.

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'Respect Ayatollah, He's a Great Person': Matar

Although Matar didn't explicitly admit that he had attacked the author after being motivated by the fatwa issued by late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which called for Rushdie's death in 1989, he said that he respected Khomeini.

"I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” Matar said, adding that he had read only a couple of pages from the The Satanic Verses.

Matar further indicated that he carried out the attack on his own and was not in touch with Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Stating that he doesn't like Rushdie, Matar said he was inspired to go to Chautauqua after he came across a tweet which announced author's visit to the place.

"I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person. He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems," Matar told the New York Post.

He also said that he watched Rushdie's video on YouTube. "I saw a lot of lectures," he said. "I don’t like people who are disingenuous like that," Matar said.

Further, the New Jersey resident told the publication that he took a bus to Buffalo a day before the attack, and later reached Chautauqua by a Lyft. Matar said he was hanging around the place and slept on the grass outside the Chautauqua Institution on Thursday night. "I was just outside the whole time," he said.

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In an interview with Britain's Daily Mail, Matar's mother Silvana Fardos said that her son was a "moody introvert" who became increasingly religious after he visited his estranged father in Lebanon

Matar is set to appear for a preliminary court hearing on Friday.

The Attack on Rushdie

Salman Rushdie was attacked ahead of a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on Friday, 12 August. His assailant had leaped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie during the introduction, following which the suspect was taken into custody.

Besides Rushdie, the moderator of the event was also attacked and had to be rushed to a hospital. On Saturday, Rushdie was taken off the ventilator and was able to speak, the author’s agent had said.

Rushdie had been in hiding for years after The Satanic Verses was published in 1988, one year after which, Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa, calling for Rushdie's death. The country had also offered over $3 million in reward to anyone who would kill Rushdie.

While the Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to death in 1991, its Italian translator Ettore Capriolo was seriously injured in a stabbing the same year. The Norway publisher of the book William Nygaard was shot three times in an attempted assassination in 1993, but survived.

(With inputs from New York Post and Daily Mail.)

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