Salman Rushdie attack: FBI weighing hate crime investigation as suspect Hadi Matar pleads not guilty

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The FBI is considering investigating the Aug. 12 stabbing of “The Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution as a hate crime, the agency said Thursday as suspect Hadi Matar pleaded not guilty to charges related to the assault.

Matar appeared in the Mayville courtroom Thursday just hours after a grand jury indicted him on charges of attempted murder in the second degree and second-degree assault.

Rushdie was hospitalized in critical condition after the attack.

FBI Public Information Officer Beau Duffy told Fox News Digital in a Thursday statement that its investigation is “ongoing,” and the agency is evaluating the possibility of investigating the stabbing as a hate crime, “but no hate crime charges have been filed at this time.”

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“When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess,” Matar told the New York Post from prison.

The suspect went on to admit he had not actually read Rushdie’s book at the source of the controversy, “The Satanic Verses.”

Rushdie’s 1988 novel, “The Satanic Verses,” which references the Quran’s Satanic Verses, sparked controversy in 1989. Iran’s supreme leader at the time, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued an edict or “fatwa” demanding the author’s death over the novel, which many Muslims viewed as blasphemous.

A semiofficial Iranian foundation posted a bounty of over $3 million at the time.

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Chautauqua Institution Senior Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Emily Morris told Fox News Digital after the attack that its Aug. 12 plan “was developed in consultation with the FBI, New York State Police and the Chautauqua County Sheriffs’ Office.”

FBI agents approaching a crime scene

FBI agents approaching a crime scene
(Getty Images)

“We enhanced our normal protocols according to that consultation. And, we continue to consult on what we need to do moving forward.” Morris said in an Aug. 13 statement. “In addition, [New York] Gov. Kathy Hochul reached out Friday to our president, Michael Hill. The two had several conversations during the day and she promised additional security resources from New York State Police. We are grateful for her interest and support.”

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller and Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.

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