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British Indian author Salman Rushdie's attacker, Hadi Matar pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault, according to CNN reports as quoted by news agency ANI. The accused, who attacked the renowned writer last week in New York, made the plea in a courtroom in Chatauqua County in the city.

Hadi Matar, who allegedly stabbed Indian-born-British writer Rushdie in western New York last week during a lecture, hails from New Jersey. He praised Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and admitted that he didn't think that the author would survive.

"I was surprised when I heard about he survived," Matar said as quoted by the New York Post.

The 24-year-old accused was asked whether he was inspired by the late Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah and Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued a fatwa against Rushdie over his book "The Satanic Verses".

He replied, "I respect Ayatollah as he is a great person. I only read a couple of pages of Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. I did not read the whole thing."

"I was inspired to go to Chautauqua after seeing a tweet sometime in the winter announcing Rushdie's visit. I don't like the person. I don't think that he's a very good person. He is someone who attacked Islam. He attacked their beliefs," he added.

The Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday stated that Matar also has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Friday.

Hardline reactions on Salman Rushdie's attack

Rushdie, 75, has lived relatively openly in recent years. He was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on the importance of the United States as a haven for targeted artists when police say a 24-year-old man rushed the stage and stabbed him.

Ministry spokesperson Kanaani said Rushdie had "exposed himself to popular outrage by insulting Islamic sanctities and crossing the red lines of 1.5 billion Muslims."

Kanaani said Iran had no other information about the novelist's suspected assailant except what had appeared in media. IRGC-affiliated Jam-e Jam and other hardline Iranian state media outlets celebrated the attack.

Who is Hadi Matar?

Matar is the son of a man from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, according to Ali Tehfe, the town's mayor. Matar's parents immigrated to the United States, where he was born and raised, the mayor said, adding he had no information on their political views.

The Iran-backed armed group Hezbollah holds significant sway in Yaroun, where posters of Khomeini and IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020, adorned walls at the weekend.

 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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