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Rushdie attacker praises Ayatollah Khomeini, says he’s surprised author survived

Hadi Matar, 24, center, listens to his public defense attorney Nathaniel Barone, left, addresses the judge while being arraigned in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)
Hadi Matar, 24, center, listens to his public defense attorney Nathaniel Barone, left, addresses the judge while being arraigned in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

The attacker who stabbed British author Salman Rushdie multiple times at a New York event on Friday says he was surprised to hear that Rushdie survived.

“When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess,” says 24-year-old Hadi Matar in a video interview with the New York Post from jail.

Citing a warning from his lawyer, Matar would not say if he was inspired by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989 over the author’s book “The Satanic Verses.”

“I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” Matar says.

“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” he said about Rushdie. “I don’t like him. I don’t like him very much.

“He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems,” Matar says, adding that he only read several pages of Rushdie’s works.

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