The attack on novelist Salman Rushdie should become “a wake-up call for the West,” Rishi Sunak has said
UK prime minister candidate Rishi Sunak on Sunday called for a tightening of sanctions against Iran in response to the recent attack on novelist Salman Rushdie.
The Indian-born British-American writer was stabbed on Friday in New York State as he was preparing to give a lecture. A possible cause for the assault could have been his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, which was condemned by Muslims for its allegedly blasphemous references to Islam and its holy book, the Koran. In 1989, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death, and while Iran officially retracted this edict, an Iranian religious foundation placed a $3.3 million bounty on the writer’s head in 2012.
According to Sunak, the “brutal stabbing” of Rushdie should serve as “a wake-up call for the West” that should prompt Britain to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an influential branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, a terrorist organization. The IRGC is already deemed as such by the US and a number of other countries.
Sunak, the former UK chancellor of the Exchequer, noted that Tehran’s response to the incident further supported the case for blacklisting the Islamic organization. He also said that all attempts to salvage the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), might fail.
“We urgently need a new, strengthened deal and much tougher sanctions, and if we can’t get results then we have to start asking whether the JCPOA is at a dead end,” he stressed, referring to the accord that put limits on Iran's nuclear program.
Rishi Sunak’s comments came after Iranian media quoted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as saying that the “arrow” shot by his predecessor “will one day hit the target.”
Some of the seemingly more hardline outlets even wrote about the attack in positive terms.
The newspaper Kayhan, for instance, touted the assailant as a “brave and dutiful” person, while another Iranian publication, the Khorasan daily, reacted to the incident with a piece entitled “Satan on the way to hell,” an apparent reference to Rushdie.
The suspect Iranian media was referring to is Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey resident. Following the attack, he was charged with second-degree murder. According to preliminary findings, Matar was “sympathetic to Shia extremism and Iran.”
Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed at a public event in New York State on Friday. Following the attack, the author was placed on a ventilator but by Sunday, according to author Aatish Taseer, he has been taken off it and is now able to speak. However, he reportedly sustained nerve damage to his arm, damage to his liver and could even lose an eye.