Iran has “categorically” denied any link with Salman Rushdie’s attacker, and instead blamed the writer himself, media reports said.
Rushdie, 75, was left severely injured after being stabbed on stage at an event in New York state. He is now able to breathe unaided, BBC reported.
He has faced years of death threats for his 1988 novel, ‘The Satanic Verses’.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accused Iran’s state media of gloating about the attack, calling its behaviour “despicable”, BBC reported.
Iranian media have extensively commented on the attack, calling it “divine retribution”.
Iran’s state broadcaster daily Jaam-e Jam highlighted the news that Rushdie might lose an eye following the attack, saying “an eye of the Satan has been blinded”, BBC reported.
As news emerged of Friday’s attack, eyes turned to Tehran where the fatwa – religious edict – calling for the writer’s assassination was first issued more than three decades ago.
But on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani – giving the country’s first official reaction – said Tehran “categorically” denied any link, adding “no-one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
However, he said freedom of speech did not justify Rushdie insulting religion in his writing, BBC reported.
“In this attack, we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation,” the spokesman said during his weekly press conference in Tehran.
“By insulting the sacred matters of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than 1.5 billion Muslims and all followers of the divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the anger and rage of the people.”
Iran had no other information about Rushdie’s assailant except what has appeared in media, he added, BBC reported.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “ludicrous” to suggest Rushdie was in any way to blame for the attack, adding it “was not just an attack on him, it was an attack on the right to free speech and expression”.
Earlier, the UK’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy had pressed the government to urgently put diplomatic pressure on Iran to apologise and withdraw the “truly sickening” comments, BBC reported.