THE suspect accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie has said he’s surprised the author survived the attack.
Sir Salman published his famous novel The Satanic Verses in 1988, which resulted in Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa, or edict calling for his death with a $3million reward.
Matar has denied attempted murder charges and is currently being held at Chautauqua County Jail, in New York state.
Speaking to the New York Post in a video interview from jail, he spoke of his loathing for the author and his surprise he survived the knife attack.
“When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess,” he said.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person. I don’t like him very much.
“He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”
Matar also said he considered late Ayatollah Khomeini a great person but wouldn’t say whether he was following the fatwa.
He told the Post he had only read a couple pages of The Satanic Verses.
A preliminary review of Matar’s social media showed he had sympathies for Shia extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, NBC News reports.
Matar, who lives in Fairview, New Jersey, said he hadn’t had any contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Tehran has denied involvement in the attack.
Sir Salman was attacked as he was being introduced at a summer literature festival at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater in western New York.
He suffered a damaged eyeball struggling with the knifeman but is now off a ventilator.
Despite his “life-changing” injuries Sir Salman has retained his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour”, his family has said.
It comes as the moderator of the event said attack highlighted the values that Sir Salman stands for.
Henry Reese, who sustained severe bruising himself during the incident, told the BBC it would be “my ideal” to one day return to the venue and continue the conversation with Sir Salman.
“That would be my ideal to do that, and to see that happen and to not be in any way impeded in doing what we set out to do,” he said.
“To both show that these values will be defended and that they can be defended.”
Sir Salman spent about 10 years under police protection in the United Kingdom.
Over the years, there have been several failed assassination attempts on Rushdie, including attacks on several people connected to its publication.