Iran conservative media hail Salman Rushdie attacker

The majority of Iranian media described British author Salman Rushdie as an "apostate". PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TEHERAN (AFP) - Iranian ultra-conservative newspaper Kayhan on Saturday (Aug 13) hailed the assailant who attacked British author Salman Rushdie - the target of a 1989 Iranian fatwa calling for his death.

Mr Rushdie was on a ventilator after he was stabbed during a literary event in New York state Friday (Aug 12), more than 30 years after he went into hiding following former supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa.

"Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York," wrote the paper, whose chief is appointed by current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife," the daily added.

With the exception of reformist publications, including Etemad, the majority of Iranian media followed a similar line, describing Mr Rushdie as an "apostate".

The Iranian authorities have yet to make any official comment on the stabbing attack against Mr Rushdie.

Mr Rushdie, 75, was propelled into the spotlight with his second novel Midnight's Children in 1981, which won international praise and Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for its portrayal of post-independence India.

But his 1988 book, The Satanic Verses, transformed his life when Mr Khomeini issued a religious decree ordering his killing.

In 1998, the government of Iran's reformist president Mohammad Khatami assured Britain that Iran would not implement the fatwa.

But Mr Khamenei said in 2005 he still believed Mr Rushdie was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam.

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