According to information from those around him, author Salman Rushdie is doing better. “Despite his serious and life-changing injuries, his usual fierce and defiant sense of humor remains intact,” his son Zafar Rushdie wrote in a statement on Twitter on Sunday.
The 75-year-old is no longer connected to a ventilator and an additional oxygen supply. He was also able to speak a few words. In addition to the alleged perpetrator, the Iranian leadership is increasingly coming under international criticism.
Rushdie was attacked by a man at an event in Chautauqua, western New York, on Friday and has since been treated at a hospital in neighboring Pennsylvania. The British-Indian writer has been persecuted by religious fanatics for decades, but the police have not yet confirmed a motive for the attack.
The Internet portal “Vice News” reported on Sunday, citing secret service sources from Europe and the Middle East, that suspect Hadi Matar had been in contact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on social media. However, there is no evidence that Iran was involved in organizing or carrying out the attack.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, criticized Iran in a statement on Sunday. “Iranian state entities in particular have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state media have recently gloated over the attack on his life,” it said. This is “despicable”. The US and its partners confronted such threats.
Earlier, British prime ministerial candidate Rishi Sunak had called for sanctions against Iran. Sunak told the Telegraph on Sunday that the attack must be a “wake-up call for the West” and advocates designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. One must also ask oneself whether a potential agreement with Iran in the nuclear dispute has “arrived at a dead end”.
Because of Rushdie’s work “The Satanic Verses” from 1988, the then Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for the author to be killed. He accused him of insulting Islam, the Prophet and the Koran. Among other things, the book features a character who resembles the Prophet Mohammed. The criticism is that Rushdie questioned the divine origin of the Koran. The death sentence was followed by Rushdie’s dramatic escape and years of hiding. He has lived in New York for more than 20 years.
The alleged perpetrator Matar was silent in court on Saturday and had his public defender declare him “not guilty”, as the “New York Times” and other US media reported. He was charged with attempted second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon and intent to cause bodily harm, police said. Second-degree murder is a separate offense in the US legal system for the death of a human being. For this, the accused in the state of New York can be sentenced to years in prison.
The publicist Günter Wallraff again condemned the assassination attempt on Rushdie. It was “disgusting” that the Iranian state media celebrated the alleged assassin frenetically, Wallraff told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” on Monday. Wallraff (79) hid Rushdie in his house in Cologne-Ehrenfeld in 1993.
At the weekend, celebrities and politicians from all over the world criticized the attack in no uncertain terms and wished Rushdie a speedy recovery. US President Joe Biden had vowed that Rushdie was not intimidated and stood for “essential, universal values” such as truth, courage and resilience.