The man who attacked novelist Salman Rushdie says he respects Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini -- the founder of the Islamic Republic -- but stopped short of saying if he was inspired by his fatwa.
According to a New York Post interview published on Wednesday, Hadi Matar said he had only "read a couple pages" of Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" and that a tweet in the winter announcing the author's visit to the Chautauqua Institution gave him the idea of going there.
Rushdie has lived with a bounty on his head since "The Satanic Verses" published in 1988 prompted Khomeini to issue a fatwa urging Muslims to kill him.
"I respect the Ayatollah. I think he's a great person. That's as far as I will say about that," the Post cited Matar as saying in a video interview from the Chautauqua County Jail.
"I don't like him very much," Matar said of Rushdie, adding that "He's someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems."
Some Western politicians and media have said that Iran's death fatwa against Rushdie makes it responsible for the incident and the United States should not continue nuclear talks with Tehran.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Monday, August 15, denied any links with the 24-year-old who stabbed the 75-year-old Indian-born author on August 12.
Vice News reported on Sunday, August 14, that according to European and Middle Eastern intelligence sources, Matar had been in contact with elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), a charge Matar denied. Matar was charged with attempted murder on Saturday.