The New Jersey man who allegedly stabbed author Salman Rushdie has justified his action to the court.
Hadi Matar, 24, appeared at his arraignment in the Chautauqua County Court on Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.
The New Jersey man could not believe Rushdie survived the attack after being stabbed about 10 times.
“When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess,” he told the New York Post in a video interview from jail.
During his interview, Matar did not reveal if he had been inspired the late Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who in 1989 issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for the death of the author over his controversial novel.
“I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” he said, admitting he’s only “read like two pages” of the Rushdie novel.
“I read a couple pages. I didn’t read the whole thing cover to cover,” he said.
Matar added his knowledge of Rushdie came more from videos he had watched of him: “I saw a lot of lectures. I don’t like people who are disingenuous like that.”
He also suggested he acted alone and decided to head to the Chautauqua Convention after seeing a tweet that Rushdie would be speaking there.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” Matar said about the author.
“I don’t like him. I don’t like him very much. He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”
Rushdie received three stab wounds to his neck, four in the stomach, a puncture in his right eye and two to the chest and a laceration to his right thigh.
The court heard Rushdie may lose his eye as a result of the attack.