TEHRAN: Iran on Monday denied any link with the attacker of British author Salman Rushdie but blamed the writer himself for "insulting" Islam in the novel "The Satanic Verses".
"We categorically deny" any link with the attack and "no one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran," said foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani in Tehran's first official reaction to Friday's stabbing.
"In this attack, we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation," he said at 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."
Rushdie, 75, was left on a ventilator with multiple stab wounds after he was attacked at a literary event Friday in upstate New York.
The prize-winning writer had spent years under police protection after Iranian leaders in 1989 called for Rushdie's killing over his portrayal of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed in the novel.
The suspected assailant, 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey, was wrestled to the ground by staff and audience members before being taken into police custody.
He was later arraigned in court and pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges.
In 1989, Iran's then-supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a religious decree, or fatwa, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie for what he deemed the blasphemous nature of "The Satanic Verses".
The fatwa was never officially lifted and several translators of the novel were attacked.