NJ man, Hadi Matar, with sympathies toward Iran arrested in stabbing of Salman Rushdie

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The man arrested in Friday’s stabbing of famed novelist Salman Rushdie was identified by police as a New Jersey man, who law enforcement sources tell The Post he had sympathies toward the Iranian government that has called for Rushdie’s death.

Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested after he stormed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York and allegedly stabbed the author multiple times, New York State Police said Friday.

Rushdie suffered stab wounds to the neck and abdomen, and remained in surgery at a nearby trauma center Friday evening, according to police.

Law enforcement officers detain a person outside the Chautauqua Institution.
Charles Fox via AP

Law enforcement sources told The Post that an initial investigation suggests Matar has made social media posts in support of Iran and its Revolutionary Guard, and in support of Shi’a extremism more broadly.

New York State Police, however, said that Matar’s motive remained unclear.

“We don’t have any indication of a motive at this time,” Major Eugene J. Staniszewski told reporters. He added that police believe Matar acted alone.

Author and social commentator Salman Rushdie
Author and social commentator Salman Rushdie was attacked at an event in New York.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Regardless, the attack comes amid a slew of foiled Iranian plots on American soil, including a plot against former National Security Advisor John Bolton and an apparent attempt on the life of an Iranian-American journalist in Brooklyn.

Rushdie, 75, has been the subject of death threats from the Iranian regime since the late 1980s.

His 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” was considered blasphemous by some Muslims, and led to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989.   

In 1991, two translators involved in the book’s publication abroad were stabbed — one fatally.

By the late 90’s, the Iranian government said the fatwa would not be carried out. 

Law enforcement stand watch outside at the Chautauqua Institution.
Law enforcement stand watch outside at the Chautauqua Institution.
AP Photo/Joshua Goodman

But as recently as 2012 a semi-official religious organization inside Iran placed an over $3 million bounty on the author’s head, and in 2019 Khomeni’s successor was temporarily banned from twitter for calling for Rushdie’s death.

The author was stabbed ahead of a planned talk about “the United States as [an] asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the institution’s website.

Charges against Matar have not yet been announced. 

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