Hadi Mater, 24, the man charged with stabbing celebrated author and winner of the world’s top literary prizes, Salman Rushdie on a lecture stage in western New York, has said he was surprised to learn the victim survived the attack.
Mater said this in an interview with the New York Post from jail.
The suspect said he decided to see Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution after he saw a tweet last winter about the writer’s planned appearance, Politico reports.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” Matar told the newspaper. “He’s someone who attacked Islam. He attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”
Matar, however, said he considered late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini “a great person” but wouldn’t say whether he was following a fatwa, or edict, issued by Khomeini in Iran in 1989 that called for Rushdie’s death after the author published “The Satanic Verses.”
Matar was arraigned in court in New York state but he pleaded not guilty.
According to prosecutors, Rushdie was stabbed approximately 10 times in what they described as a planned, premeditated assault.
Rushdie, whose writings generated death threats, was stabbed in the neck at a literary event in upstate New York, United States last Friday.
The assailant stormed the stage soon after his introduction.
Iran has denied involvement in the attack. Matar, who lives in Fairview, New Jersey, said he hadn’t had any contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He told the Post he had only read “a couple pages” of “The Satanic Verses.”
Rushdie was earlier taken off a ventilator and can talk again.
His son, Zafar Rushdie said his father was able to say a few words after he was taken off a ventilator, adding that he had his sense of humour.
He had been placed on a ventilator as he was battling for life.
After the on-stage attack on Friday, Rushdie had been helicoptered to hospital and underwent emergency surgery before being placed on a ventilator.
On Sunday, the acclaimed author’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said Rushdie had come off the ventilator and that his condition was improving.
“The road to recovery has begun,” Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”
Wylie also told the New York Times that Rushdie had started to speak again on Sunday, suggesting his condition had improved.
SaharaReporters saw a note his son, Zafara, celebrity relations, event and PR consultant tweeted on Sunday that his father was still in critical condition.
He said, “Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment. We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.
“Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact. We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world. We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.”
Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, according to Wylie in the attack Friday.
Also injured was Henry Reese, who was to host the event with Rushdie.
Matar, who is charged with attempted murder and assault, told the Post he took a bus to Buffalo the day before the attack and then took a Lyft to Chautauqua, about 40 miles away.
He bought a pass to the Chautauqua Institution grounds and then slept in the grass the night before Rushdie’s planned talk.
Matar was born in the U.S. but holds dual citizenship in Lebanon, where his parents were born. His mother has told reporters in interviews that Matar came back changed from a visit to see his father in Lebanon in 2018. After that, he became moody and withdrew from his family, she said