Imran Khan says he 'understood' Muslim anger at Salman Rushdie as he condemns knife attack

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan said anger at Sir Salman's book, the Satanic Verses, was understandable

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Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he understood Muslim anger towards author Salman Rushdie, after he was stabbed as he was about to give a talk in New York.

Sir Salman, 75, has suffered life changing injuries from the attack and could lose an eye.

His alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, accused Sir Salman of attacking Islam over the release of his book.

Sir Salman’s life has been in jeopardy since 1989, when Iran’s supreme leader at the time, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued an edict demanding his death over his novel The Satanic Verses, which was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims.

Imran Khan
Imran Khan

A semi-official Iranian foundation had posted a bounty of more than £2.5million.

Commenting on the incident, Mr Khan described it as terrible and sad, but said he did understand the anger directed as Sir Salman.

“Rushdie understood, because he came from a Muslim family. He knows the love, respect, reverence of a prophet that lives in our hearts. He knew that.

"So the anger I understood but you can't justify what happened."

Hadi Matar
Hadi Matar

Matar has been charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, and one count of second-degree assault.

Judge David Foley refused to grant Matar bail, according to court papers.

Mitigating, lawyer Nathaniel Barone argued Matar had no criminal record and would not flee the country if released.

Mr Foley ordered the lawyers involved in the case not to give interviews to the media.

Chautauqua County district attorney Jason Schmidt told the court that Matar travelled to the area on Thursday August 11 from his home in New Jersey carrying “false identification, cash, prepaid Visa cards and multiple knives”.