A senior Iranian government official has denied Tehran’s involvement in the assault on writer Sir Salman Rushdie.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman asser Kanaani said at a briefing to journalists.

“We do not believe that anyone, except him and his supporters, deserves condemnation and accusation in the attack on Salman Rushdie in the United States,” Kanani said. No one has the right to accuse Iran on the point.”

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Sir Salman Rushdie recovering in hospital (Matt Crossick/PA)

“We believe the insults and support he received are an insult to believers of all religions.”

He also hinted that Lord Salman attacked himself.

“Salman Rushdie has drawn public anger and outrage by insulting the sanctity of Islam and crossing the red line of more than 1.5 billion Muslims and adherents of all sacred religions. It was done,” Kanani said.

Lord Salman, 75, was stabbed Friday while attending an event in western New York. His agent said he had suffered liver damage and severed nerves in his arms and eyes. He was likely to lose his injured eye.

His attacker, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to the charges resulting from the assault through his lawyer.

For over 30 years, the award-winning author has faced death threats over his book The Satanic Verses.

The late Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, demanding his death. An Iranian foundation was offering the author a bounty of more than his $3 million (£2.5 million).

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Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 (Hussein Malla/AP)

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Kanani said Iran “has no information beyond what the American media reports.”

“It is a contradictory attitude for Western countries to condemn the actions of the attackers and instead praise the actions of those who insult the Islamic faith,” Kanani added.

Khomeini had been in failing health in the last years of his life after the Iran-Iraq War devastated the country’s economy.

The Islamic edict was seen as a blasphemous allusion to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, amid violent uproar in the Muslim world over the novel.

A fatwa can be amended or revoked, but Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini, has never done so. In February 2017 Ayatollah Khamenei said:

Since 1979, Iran has targeted dissidents abroad. Tensions with the West, particularly the United States, have soared since then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal with Iran’s world powers in 2018.

In 2020, a drone strike ordered by President Trump killed the commander-in-chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, adding to these tensions.

Last week, the United States indicted an absentee security guard for plotting to kill Trump’s former adviser and Iranian hawk John Bolton. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his aides are under 24-hour security over suspected threats from Iran.

Meanwhile, US prosecutors say Iran attempted to kidnap an Iranian opposition activist and writer living in New York in 2021. A man with an assault rifle was recently arrested near her house.

Other denials from the Foreign Ministry include Tehran handing over weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels amid the country’s long civil war. Independent, Western, and UN experts trace components of the weapon back to Iran.

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