It is an infamous pastiche of Shakespeare that the Iranian daily, Kayhan, post this Sunday. “Cowards die a thousand times before they die”wrote the playwright in 1599 in Julius Caesar. Rejoicing in the violent knife attack on Salman Rushdie this Friday, the ultra-conservative newspaper dares to headline the editorial of its Sunday edition as follows: “Condemned apostates die many times before they die”.
The attack on the British writer threatened with death since a “fatwa” from Iran in 1989, a year after the publication of the satanic verses, is celebrated by extremists in the country. Thereby Kayhan welcomes the gesture of Hadi Matar, the alleged attacker: “It doesn’t matter whether the Indian-born British author of the blasphemous novel dies these days or lives for a few more years. What is important is the courage of American Muslim Hadi Matar..
Presented to a judge in the State of New York, the latter pleaded, through the voice of his lawyer, “not guilty” of “attempted murder” on Salman Rushdie. US prosecutors, however, considered that Friday’s attack was premeditated. But this Sunday, while the Islamic Republic has so far given no official reaction, several titles in the Iranian press are advancing conspiratorial hypotheses. Thus another conservative newspaper, Javan, evokes the hypothesis of a plot hatched by the Americans: “Another scenario is that the United States probably wants to spread Islamophobia around the world”theorizes everyday life.
In another article, the newspaper Kayhan brandishes a threat against Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo. The two former American officials, who are “the main perpetrators of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani”eliminated in a US raid in Iraq in 2020. “The attack on Salman Rushdie showed the weakness of US intelligence and demonstrated that even strict security measures cannot prevent attacks. It also proves that getting revenge on criminals on American soil is not difficult. Now Trump and Pompeo will feel more threatened.”writes the ultraconservative newspaper.
Reconciliation with the nuclear agreement
The same headline, in an article listing Iranian reactions to Friday’s attack, quotes the tweet of a professor of English literature at the University of Tehran, Mohammad Marandi. “I will not shed tears for a writer who pours out endless hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam”, writes this Iranian born in the United States. And to pour into conspiracy: “Isn’t it strange that, as we approach a potential nuclear deal, the United States is claiming that it was intended to kill [John] Bolton… And two days later this happened?” The academic is referring here to a statement from the US Department of Justice dated Wednesday. The latter claimed that an Iranian had been indicted for offering to pay $300,000 to individuals in the United States to kill the former White House national security adviser.
Another daily, Hamshahri, drew the parallel with the negotiations of an Iranian nuclear agreement which took place last week in Vienna – umpteenth attempt to save the agreement concluded in 2015 and torpedoed by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 under Donald Trump. A time deemed ‘moderate’ until he organized an ‘international Holocaust cartoon competition’ in 2006 the newspaper wonders in the title of an article published this Sunday: “Was the attack on Salman Rushdie planned?” To answer it, he gives the floor to several “deputies and experts on international and American issues”. None of the five men interviewed supports this conspiratorial thesis. But everyone considers that Salman Rushdie, “guilty” in their eyes to have “insulted the prophet, deserves the harshest treatment”.