Lebanese-American Hadi Matar, who stabbed author Salman Rushdie several times on August 12th, said he “was surprised” to learn that the writer had survived the attack.
Matar was interviewed from his jail cell when he justified his crime saying that Rushdie “is someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief system.”
He denies charges of attempted murder and assault but, when speaking to the New York Post from his cell in Chautauqua County Jail, he said: “When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess.”
The 75-year-old Salman Rushdie has lived with death threats for decades since the publication of his 1988 novel, the Satanic Verses. The novel is seen as blasphemous by some Muslims and caused the Iranian leader back then, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to issue a fatwa against him in 1989, calling for Rushdie to be killed.
Matar said: “I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person. I don’t like him. I don’t like him very much.”
He added: “I respect the Ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that.”
Matar noted that he had only “read a couple of pages” of Rushdie’s controversial novel. He would not say whether he was inspired by the Ayatollah to execute his attack, citing a warning by his lawyer.
Matar did not respond to any questions about his trip to Lebanon in 2018, which according to his mother, changed his behavior and increased his religious extremism.
Salman Rushdie suffered from around 12 stabs in his neck, stomach, chest, and right eye.
His son Zafar Rushdie said on Sunday that his father has “been able to say a few words and retains his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor.”
He said his father remained in a critical condition but was taken off a ventilator on Saturday.