British author JK Rowling has received a death threat from an Iran-backing Islamist extremist who appears to have praised Salman Rushdie‘s suspected attacker, repeatedly expressed support for Tehran’s theocratic dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and branded Israel, Ukraine and India ‘terrorist states’.
The Harry Potter writer and free speech campaigner – who has been pilloried by trans activists for her beliefs on gender – had expressed her horror at the sickening attempt on Rushdie’s life in upstate New York when she was issued the chilling threat on Twitter.
Meer Asif Aziz, who describes himself on Twitter as a ‘student, social activist, political activist and research activist’ based in Karachi, has made tasteless ‘jokes’ about how to destroy Israel and branded it and Putin-savaged Ukraine – as well as Pakistan’s chief geopolitical rival India – ‘terrorist states’.
Aziz also appears to support the Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei, who frequently rants about Israel in deranged, genocidal tweets. In one of Khamenei’s posts about the ‘oppressive Yazidis’, for instance, Aziz responded with a heart emoji.
And responding to another tweet from the Iranian dictator, Aziz gushed : ‘Dear leader your struggle for Islamic world will not be wasted until we young generation are with you’.
Rowling, 57, had posted last night about Rushdie’s stabbing: ‘Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok’.
Aziz, who had described Rushdie’s alleged attacker Hadi Matar, 24, as a ‘revolutionary Shia fighter’, then threatened: ‘Don’t worry you are next’. MailOnline has contacted Twitter for comment
In a bid to get Aziz booted off Twitter, Rowling this afternoon posted: ‘@TwitterSupport any chance of some support?’. Critics have accused the social media giant of ‘double standards’ over which accounts it chooses to kick off the site. Twitter dramatically chose to shut down Donald Trump’s account over his role in the invasion of the US Capitol by a mob wearing MAGA caps on January 6 last year – but still allows Khamenei to make threats against Israel.
Rowling also confirmed that police are involved, telling her followers: ‘To all sending supportive messages: thank you. Police are involved (were already involved on other threats).’
She and horror writer Stephen King are among the authors and notable faces voicing their disbelief after Rushdie, 75, was stabbed up to 15 times – including once in the neck – in upstate New York at a lecture about free speech. The Indian-born British author, whose writing led to unprecedented death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution when the incident occurred, leaving him with an apparent stab wound to the neck.
It comes as:
- Rushdie’s agent said that the author would likely lose one eye and has suffered damage to nerves in one of his arms and his liver;
- US law enforcement said that initial enquiries suggested Rushdie’s alleged attacker was sympathetic to the Iranian regime;
- Iranian state media gleefully praised Sir Salman’s attacker and branded the author an ‘apostate’ and ‘heretic-writer’;
- Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron led condemnation of the attack, with the French President branding it an assault on liberty and saying: ‘His fight is our fight’.
British author JK Rowling has received a death threat on Twitter after Salman Rushdie was stabbed
Meer Asif Aziz describes as a ‘student, social activist, political activist and research activist’ based in Karachi
The Harry Potter writer said on Twitter last night: ‘Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok’. She received the chilling reply: ‘Don’t worry you are next’
Aziz has made tasteless ‘jokes’ about how to destroy Israel and branded it and Putin-savaged Ukraine – as well as Pakistan’s chief geopolitical rival India – ‘terrorist states’. He also appears to support the Supreme Leader of Iran, who frequently rants about Israel in genocidal tweets. In one of Khamenei’s posts about the ‘oppressive Yazidis’, Aziz responded with a heart emoji
Matar being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution
On stage at the lecture theatre: Sir Salman Rushdie is seen on the left at the the Chautauqua Institution
Man, 24, who stabbed Salman Rushdie had fake driver’s license in name of HEZBOLLAH commander and praised Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on social media
The fake driver’s license that was found on 24-year-old Hadi Mater bore the name Hassan Mughniyah. Both, the first and second names are linked to infamous terrorist organization Hezbollah
The man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie held a fake driver’s license bearing the surname of an infamous Hezbollah commander, it has been claimed.
That driver’s license, which was was found on 24-year-old Hadi Mater bore the name Hassan Mughniyah. Both the first and second names are linked to infamous terrorist organization Hezbollah. The group’s current leader is named Hassan Nasrallah. While one of the group’s most notorious figures was Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a CIA-linked assassination in Syria in 2008.
NBC New York reports that Mater’s social media accounts showed that he was sympathetic to Shia causes, including supporting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Since the 1980s, the IRGC have been linked to Hezbollah, offering training and funding to the primarily Lebanon-based terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s logo is based on the IRGC’s.
According to the Council on Foreign Relation’s profile on Hezbollah: ‘The Iran-backed group is driven by its opposition to Israel and its resistance to Western influence in the Middle East.’
Witnesses to the stabbing say that the suspect wore black clothing and a black mask during the attack on The Satanic Verses author in Buffalo on Friday.
As he was transported to hospital by helicopter, with his condition unclear, a number of authors took to social media to speak of their shock following the ‘horrific’ incident.
Renowned American author of horror and fantasy novels King added: ‘I hope Salman Rushdie is okay.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: ‘Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.’
Nick Barley, director of Edinburgh International Book Festival, encouraged authors to read from Sir Salman’s books at their events this year, adding: ‘As we open this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, we send love and best wishes to Salman Rushdie.
‘Salman visited us last in 2019 and joined us online last year. We are inspired by his courage and are thinking of him at this difficult time. This tragedy is a painful reminder of the fragility of things we hold dear and a call to action: we won’t be intimidated by those who would use violence rather than words.
‘As a gesture of support and solidarity we are inviting all authors appearing in the adult programme to read a sentence from one of Salman’s books at the beginning of their book festival event.’
Journalist and author of Empireland, Sathnam Sanghera, tweeted: ‘Passage from Midnight’s Children in my last ever exam. Poster of The Moor’s Last Sigh had place on my (pretentious) student bedroom wall. Quote from Satanic Verses opens Empireland.
‘Lots of British Asian writers wouldn’t be writers without him. Pray he’s well.’
Sir Salman’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims view it as blasphemous, and its publication prompted Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa calling for his execution.
Muslim societies on both sides of the Atlantic were quick to condemn the attack. The Muslim Council of Britain tweeted: ‘Such violence is wrong and the perpetrator must be brought to justice,’ while Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, added: ‘American Muslims, like all Americans, condemn any violence targeting anyone in our society.’
Markus Dohle, chief executive of Penguin Random House, the author’s publisher, said: ‘We are deeply shocked and appalled to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie. We condemn this violent public assault, and our thoughts are with Salman and his family at this distressing time.’
Sir Salman was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen, according to police officials, before he was taken to hospital.
According to the NYT Sir Salman’s agent Andrew Wylie said he is on a ventilator and unable to speak.
Mr Wylie added the news was ‘not good’ and the author will ‘likely lose one eye’. He said the nerves in Sir Salman’s arm were severed in the attack and his liver was ‘stabbed and damaged’.
Major Eugene Staniszweski of New York State Police said late on Friday: ‘Earlier today at approximately 10.47am, guest speaker Salman Rushdie, aged 75, and Ralph Henry Reese, age 73, had just arrived on stage at the institution.
‘Shortly thereafter, the suspect jumped on to the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie, stabbing him at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen.
Iran state media hails Salman Rushdie’s attacker as ‘courageous and duty-conscious man’ whose hands should be kissed for ‘tearing the neck of the enemy of God with a knife’
The front pages of the August 13 edition of Iranian newspapers Vatan-e Emrooz, front, with title reading in Farsi: ‘Knife in the neck of Salman Rushdie,’ and Hamshahri, rear, with title: ‘Attack on writer of Satanic Verses’
Iran’s deranged state media has today gleefully celebrated the sickening attack on Salman Rushdie, hailing the British author’s suspected knifeman and branding the novellist an ‘apostate’ and ‘heretic’ whose book The Satanic Verses ‘blasphemed’ the Prophet Muhammad.
Rushdie, 75, was stabbed up to 15 times – including once in the neck – on stage in upstate New York – more than 30 years after the theocratic dictatorship in Tehran issued a fatwa calling for the murder of the writer and anyone involved with the publication of the 1988 novel.
The edict forced Sir Salman to go into hiding for a decade under an alias and round-the-clock police protection – and fuelled worldwide riots and book-burnings.
Last night Iranian state media celebrated the shocking attack on Rushdie, calling him a ‘depraved heretic-writer’ and ‘apostate author’. An apostate is the term for someone who renounces a religious belief, which in Islamic theology is punishable by death.
FARS News, a regime-owned outlet, also called Sir Salman an ‘apostate’ and accused him of having ‘insulted the Prophet of Islam (PBUH)’ with the book’s ‘anti-religious content.’
Iranian ultra-conservative newspaper Kayhan, whose chief Hossein Shariatmadari is a close confidant of current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, praised Rushdie’s suspected attacker, Hadi Matar, 24, from New Jersey – who US law enforcement last night said enquiries suggested was sympathetic to the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
In an editorial in Saturday’s edition, Shariatmadari thundered: ‘Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York. Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife.’
The Iranian regime has long stood by the fatwa, with Khamenei tweeting in 2019 that the fatwa ‘is based on divine verses, and just like divine verses, it is solid and irrevocable.’
‘Several members of the staff at the institution and audience members rushed the suspect and took him to the ground, and shortly thereafter, a trooper who was at the institution took the suspect into custody with the assistance of a Chautauqua County Sheriff’s deputy.
‘Mr Rushdie was provided medical treatment by a doctor who was in the audience until EMS arrived on scene.
‘Mr Rushdie was airlifted to a local trauma centre and is still currently undergoing surgery.’
Mr Reese, from the City of Asylum organisation, a residency programme for writers living in exile under threat of persecution, suffered a minor head injury.
They were due to discuss America’s role as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.
A video posted to Twitter by an AP reporter in the audience showed a man dressed in black being led away from the stage.
New York governor Kathy Hochul told a press conference that a state police officer saved Sir Salman’s life.
She added: ‘He is alive, he has been airlifted to safety. But here is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power, someone who’s been out there unafraid, despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life.’
The Chautauqua Institution, which was hosting the lecture, tweeted about the incident, writing: ‘We ask for your prayers for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese, and patience as we fully focus on co-ordinating with police officials following a tragic incident at the amphitheatre today.’
Its president Michael Hill said: ‘What we experienced at Chautauqua today is an incident unlike anything in our nearly 150-year history.
‘We were founded to bring people together and community to learn and in doing so, to create solutions through action, to develop empathy and to take on intractable problems. Today now we’re called to take on fear and the worst of all human traits – hate.’
Jeremy Genovese, 68, from Beachwood, Ohio, a retired academic from Cleveland State University, told the PA news agency he arrived at the amphitheatre as it was being evacuated and people were ‘streaming out’.
He said: ‘People were in shock, many people in tears. Chautauqua has always prided itself as a place where people can engage in civil dialogue.
‘The amphitheatre is a large outdoor venue where people have given lectures since the late 1800s. You need a pass to access the grounds but it is not too difficult to get in.’
Sir Salman’s publisher Penguin Random House said they are ‘deeply shocked and appalled’ by the incident.
Chief executive Markus Dohle said in a statement to PA: ‘We are deeply shocked and appalled to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie while he was speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.
‘We condemn this violent public assault, and our thoughts are with Salman and his family at this distressing time.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was ‘appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend’.
He added: ‘Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.’
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: ‘Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling.
‘All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.’
Sir Salman was previously president of PEN America, which celebrates free expression and speech, and its chief executive Suzanne Nossel was among those reacting to the attack.
She tweeted: ‘PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former president and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie.’
Blood was spattered on the wall behind where Rushdie had been attacked, with some also seen on a chair. New York State Police confirmed that Rushdie was stabbed in the neck
Law enforcement officers detaining Rushdie’s suspected attacker Hadi Matar outside the Chautauqua Institution yesterday
Medics rushed to the scene to take the author to hospital to treat his injuries
She added: ‘Our thoughts and passions now lie with our dauntless Salman, wishing him a full and speedy recovery. We hope and believe fervently that his essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.’
Sir Salman began his writing career in the early 1970s with two unsuccessful books before Midnight’s Children, about the birth of India, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.
It went on to bring him worldwide fame and was named ‘best of the Bookers’ on the literary award’s 25th anniversary.
The author lived in hiding for many years in London under a British government protection programme after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death over The Satanic Verses.
Finally, in 1998, the Iranian government withdrew its support for the death sentence and Sir Salman gradually returned to public life, even appearing as himself in the 2001 hit film Bridget Jones’s Diary.
The Index on Censorship, an organisation promoting free expression, said money was raised to boost the reward for Sir Salman’s killing as recently as 2016, underscoring that the fatwa for his death still stands.
His other works include The Moor’s Last Sigh and Shalimar The Clown, which was long-listed for the Booker.
He was knighted in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
How Salman Rushdie lived under the shadow of a fatwa for 30 years: British author went into hiding when Iran’s spiritual leader ordered he was killed for ‘blasphemous’ The Satanic Verses but he was living a ‘normal life’ in New York before his stabbing
He was first forced into hiding more than 30 years ago by Iran’s theocratic dictatorship after the regime branded The Satanic Verses a work of blasphemy.
From ever-changing safe houses, constant armed guards and a new identity, to finally finding a new home in the US, British author Salman Rushdie has now been stabbed in the neck on stage in New York – the supposed beating heart of free speech.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of the Islamic republic, issued a fatwa – or religious ruling – calling on all Muslims to murder the celebrated atheist author and anyone involved in the publication of The Satanic Verses on February 14, 1989.
Rushdie, now 75, was forced to live under the long shadow the fatwa cast until it was finally lifted by Iran’s hardline regime in 1998.
But for nine years, the writer constantly moved between safe houses and was protected by round-the-clock armed guards. He even adopted an alias, Joseph Anton – a combination of the first names of two of his favourite writers, Conrad and Chekhov.
The fatwa also led to the murder of the book’s Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi, the targeting of its translators and publishers in Turkey, Norway and Italy, and worldwide riots and book-burnings – while The Satanic Verses itself was banned in many countries.
Speaking about the controversy with the Mail, Sir Salman said: ‘Being under the fatwa was a jail, but I think that one of the problems is that from the outside it looked glamorous, as I sometimes showed up in places in Jags with people jumping out to open the door and make sure you get in safely and so on. Looks of who the hell does he think he is? Well, from my side it felt like jail.
‘There was this crude argument that I did it in some way for personal advantage, to make myself more famous or to make money. At its most unpleasant it was levelled at me from the Islamic side that the Jews made me do it. They said my [second] wife was Jewish. She wasn’t, she was American.
‘If I had simply wanted to trade on an insult to Islam I could have done it in a sentence rather than writing a 250,000-word novel, a work of fiction.’
Sir Salman Rushdie holding a copy of The Satanic Verses during a 1992 news conference in Arlington
Muslim activists beat a burning effigy of Salman Rushdie in New Delhi
Ayatollah Khomeini at his residence in the leafy Paris suburb of Neauphle-le Chateau during his exile
‘What you have to remember is that The Satanic Verses is not called Islam the Prophet, it is not called Mohammed, the country is not called Arabia – it all happens in the dream of somebody who is losing their mind.’
What shocked him is that no radical Muslims in Britain who backed the call for his assassination were ever prosecuted.
He said: ‘There were these occasions, like in Manchester, where Muslim leaders said to their congregation, ”Tell me who in this audience would be ready to kill Rushdie?” and everyone in the audience raised their hand. And the police thought this was OK.
Rushdie holding a copy of The Satanic Verses in 1989
‘Supposing I had been the Queen and an imam said to his congregation, ”Who would be ready to kill the Queen?” and everybody raised their hand. Would you think the police would not act?
‘I only use the Queen as an example to dramatise this but it seems odd that when it is a novelist of foreign origin, therefore not completely British in some way, that it was allowed to happen with impunity.’
Rushdie remembers his split from his wife Marianne as being a particularly traumatic time. She claimed that the CIA was aware of Rushdie’s whereabouts and so his cover was blown. When he realised that she was lying he decided to end the relationship.
‘It was very shocking. There simply was a point at which I had to choose whether to be alone in the middle of this hurricane with nobody there for companionship or whether I somehow had to put up with this person in whom it was difficult to have faith.
‘It was horrifying to be told by a policeman that they believed that your wife was lying to you. It is an experience most of us don’t have.
‘And then for her to say that it was the police who were to be blamed and that I shouldn’t trust them sets a kind of mindf*** and I had to make my judgments. It became impossible for me to have faith in her veracity. So in the end I thought it was better to separate.’
In an interview three years ago, he said: ‘Islam was not a thing. No one was thinking in that way. One of the things that has happened is that people in the West are more informed than they used to be’.
He ruefully added: ‘I was 41 back then, now I am 71. Things are fine now. We live in a world where the subject changes very fast. And this is a very old subject. There are now many other things to be frightened about – and other people to kill’.
Sir Salman began his writing career in the early 1970s with two unsuccessful books before Midnight’s Children, about the birth of India, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.
It went on to bring him worldwide fame, with it also later crowned the ‘best of the Bookers’ on the literary award’s 25th anniversary.
His other works include the Moor’s Last Sight and Shalimar The Clown, which was long-listed for the Booker, and he also published a memoir called Joseph Anton about the fatwa.
In this file photo taken on February 26, 1989, Hezbollah militants burn an effigy of Rushdie
People rushed to assist the author after the attack in New York
Rushdie was knighted in 2007 for services to literature, a decision that triggered outrage in several Muslim countries, including Malaysia and Pakistan.
In 2017, he risked angering Islamists again by saying he could not face reading the ‘unenjoyable’ Koran.
Asked if Islam’s central text should be edited to make the religion seem ‘more humane’, the author replied: ‘Editing the Koran seems like a mug’s game. It’s not a very enjoyable book because most of it is not narrative. The big difference between the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran is that the Koran has the least narrative of them. Only about a quarter of the book is stories. A third of the book is fulminations against the unbeliever and how they will rot in hell. Another third of the book is laws, how you should behave.
‘So no I wouldn’t edit it because then I’d have to read it, and I don’t want to do that.’