Author JK Rowling on Saturday said the police are investigating a potential death threat after a Twitter user hinted of a possible target on her in response to her posts on the stabbing of novelist Salman Rushdie during a literary event in New York. Rushdie, who has long faced death threats for his fourth novel, “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed in the neck and torso by Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey. The incident took place 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s first supreme leader pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling upon Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in the book’s publication for blasphemy.
Following the attack on the author on Friday, the “Harry Potter” author in a tweet expressed her disbelief on Twitter. “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok,” she said.
Rowling later posted screenshots of replies to her tweet by user Meer Asif Aziz who gave information about the attacker Hadi Matar and said he is a “revolutionary Shia fighter followed the fatwa of late ayotallah rohullah khomeini”.
To all sending supportive messages: thank you 💕
Police are involved (were already involved on other threats).
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 13, 2022
In another tweet by the author on the attack on Rushdie, Aziz responded to Rowling stating, “Don’t worry, you are next.” Rowling tagged the Twitter support team and asked for assistance in view of the threat.
Shortly later, the British author thanked her well-wishers who had raised safety concerns and said she has received help and the police is looking into the threat and information. “To all sending supportive messages: thank you 💕 Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Iran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah said it was not involved in the attack on Salman Rushdie and had no additional information. “We don’t know anything about this subject so we will not comment,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The attacker, Matar, is originally Lebanese and his family hails from the south Lebanon town of Yaroun, Yaroun mayor Ali Tehfe told Reuters. The Matar’s parents emigrated to the United States and he was born and raised there, Tehfe said. When asked if Matar or his parents were affiliated with or supported Hezbollah, Tehfe said he had “no information at all” on the political views of the parents or Matar as they lived abroad.
Iranian state media has praised Matar following the attack on Rushdie. Kayhan newspaper, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote, “A thousand bravos … to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York,” adding, “The hand of the man who tore the neck of God’s enemy must be kissed”. The headline of the hardline Vatan Emrooz newspaper read, “Knife in Salman Rushdie’s neck”. The Khorasan daily carried the headline, “Satan on the way to hell”.
Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak after the incident. His agent Andrew Wylie said that “the news is not good.” “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” he said in a statement.