BEIRUT — The parents of Hadi Matar, the man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie, are from the village of Yaroun, in south Lebanon, the village's mayor, Ali Kassem Tehfeh, confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour Saturday.
He explained, however, that the parents, divorced, have resided in the United States "for 30 years" and that they no longer have any relatives in Lebanon.
Tehfeh had earlier told the newspaper Annahar that Matar's parents were from the village but that 24-year-old Matar, a resident of New Jersey, was "born, studied and lived in the United States and never visited Yaroun."
The director of Lebanese General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, told L'Orient-Le Jour earlier on Saturday morning that he did not know "for the time being" whether Hadi Matar, the man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie, was of Lebanese origin or not.
General Security head Ibrahim told L'Orient-Le Jour, however, "We do not know at this time if he is of Lebanese origin. We need more information about him to determine his identity. The Americans have not yet contacted us about this. We have learned that he was born in the United States and he has never set foot here [in Lebanon]."
"In principle, this incident should not affect Lebanon. As soon as we have more information about him, we will try to find out his affiliations," he added.
Rushdie — whose novel, "The Satanic Verses," was the subject of a fatwa issued by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, in 1989 calling upon Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in its publication for blasphemy —was stabbed in the neck onstage at a lecture in New York state on Friday and is currently on a ventilator.
According to a law enforcement source in direct contact with the investigation interviewed by NBC News, Matar's social media accounts showed sympathy for Shiite extremism and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. But this source notes that no direct link between the suspect and the latter has been established.
L'Orient-Le Jour contacted two Hezbollah officials on Saturday morning, both of whom refused to comment on the affair.
On Saturday morning, the conservative Iranian press also hailed the assailant. The main ultra-conservative Iranian daily, Kayhan, congratulated the man who stabbed the author of "Satanic Verses", the target for more than 30 years of a fatwa from Iran.
"Congratulations to this brave and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and vicious Salman Rushdie," writes the newspaper, whose boss is appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "Let us kiss the hand of him who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife," continues the text.
Also on Saturday morning, the Iranian government had not officially commented on the assassination attempt on the 75-year-old intellectual.
"I will not shed tears for a writer who denounces with infinite hatred and contempt Muslims and Islam," however wrote in a tweet Mohammad Marandi, adviser to the team of negotiators on the nuclear file.
"Rushdie is an empire pawn posing as a postcolonial novelist," he added.
BEIRUT — The parents of Hadi Matar, the man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie, are from the village of Yaroun, in south Lebanon, the village's mayor, Ali Kassem Tehfeh, confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour Saturday. He explained, however, that the parents, divorced, have resided in the United States "for 30 years" and that they no longer have any relatives in Lebanon.Tehfeh had earlier told...