Rushdie Suspect Only Read 'Like 2 Pages'

Hadi Matar is surprised author survived
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2022 11:51 AM CDT
Rushdie Suspect Only Read 'Like 2 Pages'
Hadi Matar, 24, center, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(Newser) – The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie apparently didn't bother reading The Satanic Verses before allegedly trying to murder the author. In a jailhouse interview, Hadi Matar told the New York Post that he only read "like two pages" of the 1989 novel, which led to a fatwa against Rushdie from Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. "I read a couple pages. I didn’t read the whole thing cover to cover," said Matar, who praised the late Iranian leader as a "great person" but denied having been in contact with Iranian authorities. He declined to say whether he was following Khomeini's fatwa. Iran has denied involvement and blames Rushdie and his supporters for the attack.

"I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person," Matar said of Rushdie. "He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief system." The 24-year-old New Jersey resident, who is accused of stabbing Rushdie multiple times in the Friday attack in Chautauqua, New York, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault. He told the Post he was "surprised" to hear that Rushdie had survived the attack. Matar said he decided to travel to Chautauqua after seeing a tweet months ago announcing the Rushdie lecture. He said he slept in grass outside the Chautauqua Institution the night before the attack.

Matar is being held at the Chautauqua County Jail, with bail denied because authorities fear he could collect a bounty for attacking Rushdie, the Post reports. The AP reports that Matar's mother says he changed and became withdrawn after visiting his father in Lebanon in 2018. Rushdie, 75, suffered serious injuries including a damaged liver but he has been taken off a ventilator and is expected to survive. In a show of solidarity, literary figures including Tina Brown, Paul Auster, and Kiran Desai plan to read from his works on the steps of the New York Public Library's flagship location Friday, the BBC reports. (Read more Salman Rushdie stories.)

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