Hadi Matar, the bland executioner who wanted to execute the fatwa against Salman Rushdie | International
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The echo of the drums of Ashura, the Shiite celebration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, which this year was on August 9, was still resounding, when a young man of Lebanese origin, a clerk in a discount store and an amateur boxer, pounced with a knife against the writer Salman Rushdie, sentenced to death in 1989 by the Iranian theocratic regime. Rushdie was preparing to give a lecture on the 12th, Friday – the holy day for Muslims – in western New York State. It was then that Hadi Matar burst onto the stand and the 33-year wait since the publication of the fatwa against the Anglo-Indian author was about to dissolve into a bloodbath.
The aggressor, 24 years old and the son of Lebanese refugee parents in the US, has confessed that he had not read more than a couple of pages of the satanic versesthe book described as blasphemous by the great Ayatollah Ruholá Khomeini, architect of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. It is probable that he did not understand the meaning of those lines, endowed with a life of their own thanks to the powerful inventiveness of Rushdie, but he did not lack to blindly obey the sentence: to kill the wicked who insulted Islam, and for whose head Tehran offered more than three million dollars.
From prison, in statements to the newspaper The New York PostMatar on Wednesday expressed his surprise that Rushdie, badly injured, is still alive, although he may lose an eye. He had seen footage of his target on YouTube videos to identify him, and decided the most propitious occasion was a lecture on America’s role as a haven for threatened writers that Rushdie was planning to deliver before his life came his way. of him the clumsy executioner.
Matar decided to go to the town of Chautauqua after the writer announced his presence on social networks. “He is someone who attacked Islam,” he told the New York newspaper, justifying the attack, although without confirming that he acted on the Tehran fatwa. “I respect the Ayatollah. I think he is a great person. It is all I can say”, he limited himself to answering the newspaper. In almost identical terms, in the first official reaction after the event, Tehran expressed itself, which held Rushdie responsible for the attack for having insulted Islam, while denying any relationship with the aggressor. A judge on Thursday prohibited the parties from discussing or discussing the case with the media.
Everything that is known about Matar, with a nondescript existence until a week ago, is due to brushstrokes in the media and social networks. The first information about his identity emerged on Twitter on Friday: an acolyte of the Iranian grand ayatollahs and holder of a false driving license, issued in New Jersey, in the name of Hassan Mughniyah. A wink, also a secret tribute, to a quasi-sacred surname for the hosts of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia-party: that of the martyr Imad Mughniyah, who was head of security and one of the most important commanders of the formation, eliminated by Israel in Damascus in 2008. Various Iranian media, all in the official orbit, immediately praised Matar as “a Lebanese hero”.
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overturn in lebanon
It was precisely in Lebanon where Hadi Matar’s beliefs were turned upside down. In 2018 he spent a whole month in Yarun, a town in Nabatiyeh, in the south of the country and a Hezbollah stronghold. He had gone to visit his father, back home after divorcing Matar’s mother. South Lebanon, an area with a Shia majority, is so strictly observant that men avoid even shaking hands with foreign women (unfaithful by nature) who visit their homes, something contradictory, or at least shocking, with traditional hospitality. Arab.
From that stay in Yarun the boy returned transformed, his mother told this week, in almost monosyllabic statements, to the newspaper New York Times. He stopped talking to her brothers and confronted her because, like any mother, he insisted on the value of studies to forge a future in the so-called country of opportunities. Matar turned a deaf ear, and her daily existence took place between the discount clothing store where she worked with a garbage contract and a gym about three kilometers from her home, where she practiced boxing. In an email that she sent to the director of the center to cancel her registration just three days before the attack, an image of Ali Khamenei, the current spiritual leader of Iran, appears as an avatar of her account, as she was able to verify. the New York Times. The manager of the gym, who describes Matar as a thin and clumsy young man, always sad-looking, noticed the photograph after the event.
Nothing in Matar’s existence seemed to indicate that a terrorist was being forged, perhaps his insistence on religion to respond to his mother’s complaints that he should study. But a review of events that coincide with what the Iranian media have baptized as a feat allows conclusions to be drawn, or at least certain connections. The attack on Rushdie came two days after the US accused a member of the Revolutionary Guards, the elite Iranian force, of trying to assassinate John Bolton, who was Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser. That same day, a Sunni Afghan was arrested in Albuquerque, in the State of New Mexico, for the murder of four Muslims, three of them Shiites, which sparked fears of sectarian revenge between the two branches of Islam. Meanwhile, rumors of the revival of the Iranian nuclear pact were reaching Washington in waves. Whether or not Matar is a link in the chain of events, or a simple lone wolf, as the police believe, will be determined by justice. earthly justice. He has enough, for now, to face the consequences of trying to apply the divine.
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