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Salman Rushdie's alleged attacker says 'he was surprised the author survived'

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Salman Rushdies alleged attacker says he was surprised the author survived
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New York: The man charged with stabbing Salman Rushdie on a lecture stage in western New York said in an interview that he was surprised to learn the accomplished author had survived the attack.

"When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess," Hadi Matar, 24, told the New York Post, which said they held a video interview with the jailed suspect.

The suspected assailant was mum on whether he was inspired by the late Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie's death in 1989 over the author's book "The Satanic Verses," citing a warning by his defense attorney.

"I respect the ayatollah. I think he's a great person. That's as far as I will say about that," said Matar.

Matar told the paper he had "read a couple of pages" of Rushdie's novel.

"I don't like the person. I don't think he's a very good person," he said of 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."

Matar said he was not in contact with Iran's Revolutionary Guard. He said he had learned Rushdie would speak at the Chautauqua Institution's literary series via a tweet earlier this year.

He told the Post he had taken a bus to Buffalo one day prior to the attack, before taking a Lyft to Chautauqua.

"I was hanging around pretty much. Not doing anything in particular, just walking around," he told the paper. "I was just outside the whole time."

Last Friday as Rushdie was set to deliver a talk as part of a lecture series, a man stormed the stage and stabbed him several times in the neck and abdomen.

Rushdie was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for life-threatening injuries.

The 75-year-old's condition remains serious but he was taken off a ventilator and has shown signs of improvement.

Matar told the Post he had watched YouTube videos of Rushdie speaking, and called the author "disingenuous."

On Monday Matar's mother, Lebanese-born Silvana Fardos of Fairview, New Jersey, described Matar as "a moody introvert" who became increasingly fixated on Islam after visiting Lebanon to see his estranged father, in an interview with Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

He is set to appear in court Friday.

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