Iranian foundation offers land to Salman Rushdie's alleged attacker

Novelist lost eye and use of one hand after assault on stage at literary event

Author Salman Rushdie, who wrote The Satanic Verses. Reuters
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An Iranian foundation has praised the man who attacked novelist Salman Rushdie last year, leaving him severely injured, state TV reported on Tuesday through its Telegram channel.

It also said it would reward him with 1,000 square metres of agricultural land.

Rushdie lost an eye and the use of one hand after the assault allegedly carried out by Hadi Matar, a Shiite Muslim American from New Jersey, on the stage of a literary event held near Lake Erie in western New York State in August.

"We sincerely thank the brave action of the young American who made Muslims happy by blinding one of Rushdie's eyes and disabling one of his hands," said Mohammad Esmail Zarei, secretary of the Foundation to Implement Imam Khomeini's Fatwas.

"Rushdie is now no more than living dead and to honour this brave action, about 1,000 square metres of agricultural land will be donated to the person or any of his legal representatives."

The 24 year old accused of the attack has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.

It came 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to assassinate Rushdie a few months after The Satanic Verses was published.

Hadi Matar appears in court on charges of attempted murder and assault on author Salman Rushdie, in Mayville, New York. Reuters

Some Muslims regarded passages in the novel about the Prophet Mohammed as blasphemous.

Rushdie, 75, who was born in India to a Muslim Kashmiri family, has lived with a bounty on his head and spent nine years in hiding under British police protection.

While Iran's pro-reform government under president Mohammad Khatami distanced itself from the fatwa in the late 1990s, the multimillion-dollar bounty hanging over Rushdie's head kept growing and the fatwa was never lifted.

Mr Khomeini's successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was suspended from Twitter in 2019 for saying the fatwa against Rushdie was "irrevocable."

Updated: February 21, 2023, 12:26 PM