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Israel says Rushdie stabbing ‘an attack on our values,’ evidence of Iran’s brutality

Lapid says author’s attempted murder in the US is result of ‘decades of incitement’; deputy FM adds regime in Tehran is a threat to the free world; Biden condemns ‘vicious’ attack

Hadi Matar, 24, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York, August 13, 2022. Matar is accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Hadi Matar, 24, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York, August 13, 2022. Matar is accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday night condemned the attempted murder of British-Indian author Salman Rushdie the previous day in the United States as an attack on freedom and the consequence of years of incitement by the Iranian regime.

“The attack on Salman Rushdie is an attack on our freedoms and values. It is the result of decades of incitement led by the extremist regime in Tehran,” Lapid tweeted Saturday night.

“On behalf of the people of Israel, we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll also denounced the Iranian regime following the attack on Rushdie during a speaking event in the town of Chautauqua in New York state.

“Yesterday’s shocking attack on Salman Rushdie is further evidence of the brutality & extremism of the Iranian regime, which has gone after and persecuted freethinkers everywhere for decades,” said Roll.

“Iran is a threat to the free world,” he continued.

US President Joe Biden called the attack “vicious” and offered prayers for Rushdie’s recovery.

“Salman Rushdie — with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced — stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience,” Biden said in a statement.

“We reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression,” he added.

In 1989, then-Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a religious edict calling for Rushdie to be killed following his publication of the novel “The Satanic Verses” in 1988. The book enraged some Muslims for what they perceived as blasphemous content.

Salman Rushdie, left, and Shimon Peres, right, at a breakfast honoring Israeli author Amos Oz on September 24, 2008 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. (Flickr/David Shankbone/CC BY)

The edict has never been lifted and a bounty for Rushdie’s assassination still exists. A previous assassination attempt against Rushdie was botched in London in 1989.

According to witnesses, Rushdie was seated on an auditorium stage and preparing to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York when Matar jumped up from the audience and managed to stab him several times before being wrestled to the ground by staff and other spectators. Matar was eventually cuffed and taken into police custody.

Rushdie remained in serious condition and was connected to a ventilator Saturday. According to his agent Andrew Wylie, the nerves in one of Rushdie’s arms were severed and his liver was damaged in the attack, and he “will likely lose one eye.”

On Saturday Matar was charged with attempted murder and assault, prosecutors said.

Also on Saturday, Labor MK Emilie Moatti denounced the attack and its celebration in the Iranian press and on social media.

“The attempted assassination of the author Salman Rushdie is another attempt by extremist fanatics and haters of mankind to raise their heads,” she said on Twitter. “Reports of rejoicing in Tehran are a stab in the heart to all those who believe in the spirit of man.”

Yisrael Beytenu MK Yossi Shain also deplored the celebration of the attack in Iran.

“The cries of happiness in Iran over the stabbing of Salman Rushdie are the direct continuation of the civilizational struggle,” tweeted Shain. “The brutal attack on the freedom of this man is the result of global poison which has permeated deeply, including here.”

Rushdie’s suspected assailant, a man named Hadi Matar, was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted murder on Saturday.

Matar was born in the US but his family is apparently from southern Lebanon.

The attack comes just days after the US Justice Department announced last Wednesday that it had indicted a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on allegations he had offered to pay an individual in the US $300,000 to kill former White House national security adviser John Bolton.

Last month, a man armed with an AK-47 rifle was witnessed trying to break into the home of Iranian journalist and critic of the Tehran regime Masih Alinejad in Brooklyn, New York.

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