Silvana Fardos, mother of Hadi Matar, 24 who is accused of repeatedly stabbing Indian-born-British author, Sir Salman Rushdie in western New York State on Friday morning as he prepared to give a lecture, told the MailOnline in an interview that her outgoing American-raised son turned moody and introverted after he visited his father in Lebanon in 2018, The Telegraph informs.
According to Silvana, her son turned into a religious zealot after returning from Lebanon where he is reported to have spent a month. She informs that Hadi locked himself away in the basement of their home in New Jersey and banned her from entering.
“I was expecting him to come back motivated, to complete school, to get his degree and a job,” she stated.
“But instead, he locked himself in the basement. He had changed a lot; he didn’t say anything to me or his sisters for months,” she told MailOnline.
Sir Salman was reportedly stabbed three times in the neck, and four times in the stomach by Hadi. He is also reported to have suffered puncture wounds to his chest and right eye, including a laceration to his right thigh, The Telegraph said.
Hadi is reported to have been brought before a court on charges of attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree. He was also reportedly remanded without bail at Chautauqua County Jail, TimesNow informs.
Since 1989, following the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, Sir Salman has lived under a fatwa (an Islamic religious ruling) imposed by Ayatollah Khomeini, Iranian political and religious leader.
Media reports and Silvana describe Hadi as very quiet. The mother of the 24-year-old is also reported to have expressed disbelief that her son was capable of such an attack. She is quoted as saying, “As I said to the FBI, I’m not going to bother talking to him again. He’s responsible for his actions.”
The Telegraph informs Hadi was born in the US to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun (a village in Lebanon). On Saturday, Hadi appeared in court where he reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges of attempted murder and assault on Sir Salman.
Though the extent of the involvement in the attack on Sir Salman remains unclear, Hadi is believed to have had contact with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Vice World News informs.
Additionally, a Middle Eastern intelligence official is reported to have stated that it was “clear” that Hadi had been in direct contact with “people either directly involved with or adjacent to the Quds Force” via social media. The Quds Force is one of five branches of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Meanwhile, Sir Salman’s son, Zafar is reported to have said the author’s “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact” despite suffering life-changing injuries, said The Telegraph.
Zafar also confirmed that his father has been taken off a ventilator and was able to say a few words. Additionally, the author is reported to have paid tribute to members of the audience who “bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid.”
On Saturday fellow author, Aatish Taseer, tweeted that Sir Salman was talking and joking.
Furthermore, Andrew Wylie, Sir Salman’s agent stated that the author is “off the ventilator and on the road to recovery.” However, “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction,” he states.
Henry Reese, 73, the moderator of the event (who was on stage and who also suffered a minor head injury) when Sir Salman was attacked is reported to have told CNN, though Hadi had made a reference to the fatwa on the author, it was difficult to understand.
He is quoted as saying, “It looked like a sort of bad prank in any sense of reality and there was blood behind him that became real.”
Before being taken into custody, the alleged assailant, Hadi was wrestled to the ground by staff and other audience members, states The Telegraph.
Ever since the disastrous event took place, The Chautauqua Institution, which hosted the event, has been facing criticism for not bringing in security measures, such as metal detectors, as a precaution.
However, the institution has reportedly defended the arrangements.
A spokesman is reported to have said, “We have worked with security consultants, local law enforcement, New York State Police and the FBI, and have implemented many of their top recommendations.
“We also talk about security procedures on a regular basis with colleagues at festivals, lecture series and universities, and will continue to have those conversations to make sure we are following best practices.”
The attack on Sir Salman has also gained wide international condemnation, Times Now reports.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to have said in a tweet, “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Right now, my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”
The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was shocked and appalled to hear of the unprovoked and senseless attack on Sir Salman. “Freedom of expression is a value we hold dear and attempts to undermine it must not be tolerated. My thoughts are with Sir Salman and his family.”
Also astounded by the attack on the author, Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, reportedly told Asian News International (ANI) they can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil.
She is quoted as saying, “PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at the word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie, who was reportedly stabbed multiple times while on stage speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York.”