The assailant of Salman Rushdie, a young Lebanese-American, was produced before a New York State judge, before whom he pleaded not guilty to the “attempted murder” of the writer, who was still hospitalized in serious condition, but was able to say a few words on Saturday night.
Since a “fatwa” issued by Iran in 1989, a year after the publication of The Satanic Verses, had been threatened with death, Salman Rushdie was stabbed a dozen times on Friday, an attack outraged in the West but cracked down by extremists in the United States Iran is celebrated and Pakistan.
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During a trial hearing in Chautauqua Court, the 24-year-old man charged with “attempted murder and assault” appeared handcuffed and masked and didn’t say a word, according to the New York Times (NYT) and local press photos.
Prosecutors said Friday’s attack was premeditated. The suspect, who lives in New Jersey, pled not guilty using his attorney’s voice and will appear again on August 19.
Salman Rushie’s health ‘improving’
On Saturday, the authorities and relatives of Salman Rushdie remained silent about the health of the naturalized American Brit. At the age of 75, he was stabbed at least ten times in the neck and stomach. He was admitted to the hospital on life support in Erie, Pennsylvania on Friday.
Alarmist Friday night to The New York Times when he declared his client had been “stabbed in the liver” and that he was “probably going to lose an eye, the nerves in his arm were severed,” his literary agent Andrew Wylie told the NYT on Sunday, that his client started talking again on Saturday evening.
Later in the day he added that the writer’s health was improving. “He is no longer on a ventilator so the road to recovery has begun,” he wrote in a statement. “It will take a long time, the injuries are serious, but his condition is going in the right direction.”
Joe Biden attack convicted
The attack triggered shock waves, especially in Western countries: US President Joe Biden condemned “a brutal attack” and praised Salman Rushdie for his “refusal to be intimidated and silenced”.
Salman Rushdie, who had lived in New York for 20 years, had resumed an almost normal life while continuing to defend satire and irreverence in his books.
Coincidentally, the German magazine Stern interviewed him a few days ago before the attack: “Since I’ve been living in the United States, I haven’t had any more problems (…) My life is back to normal,” assures the writer, in this interview that took place on August 18 fully released, said he was “optimistic” despite “daily death threats.”
No reaction from the Iranian government
The Iranian government has not officially responded to the attack on Salman Rushdie, but several uncompromising Iranian newspapers have praised his attacker.
The most important Iranian ultra-conservative daily newspaper “Kayhan” on Saturday congratulated the man who had stabbed the British writer Salman Rushdie to death in the USA the previous day. “Congratulations to this brave and dutiful man who attacked the renegade and the vicious Salman Rushdie,” writes the newspaper, whose chief is appointed by Iran’s supreme leader. “Let us kiss the hand of him who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife,” the text continues.
Attack is a US conspiracy, says Iranian newspaper
The Javanese newspaper also raises the hypothesis of an American conspiracy: “Another scenario is that the United States probably wants to spread Islamophobia in the world,” Javan adds. For the daily Kayhan, “the attack on Salman Rushdie showed the weakness of the US intelligence community and showed that even strict security measures cannot prevent attacks”.
“The attack on Salman Rushdie also proves that taking revenge on criminals on American soil is not difficult. Now (ex-President Donald) Trump and (ex-Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo will feel most threatened,” the newspaper adds.
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