Supporters Of Hizbullah And Iran-Backed Shi'ite Militias On Twitter And Telegram Praise Attack On Salman Rushdie

August 14, 2022

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On August 12, 2022, as he was sitting onstage about to deliver a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, Salman Rushdie, the British-American, 1981 Booker Prize-winning author was stabbed about 10 times. Rushdie's 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses, provoked outrage among many Muslims due to the manner in which the Prophet Muhammad was depicted, and a fatwa calling for Rushdie's assassination was issued in 1989 by Ruhollah Khomeini who was the supreme leader of Iran at the time.

The attacker, who was identified by the authorities as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man born in the U.S., is from a Lebanese family. According to the mayor of Yaroun, a town in South Lebanon, Matar's parents are natives of Yaroun, but their son was born and raised in the U.S.[1]

Reports in Western and Arab media state that on his social media accounts, which have been blocked since the attack, Matar expresses support for the supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei and for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. In the fake driving license he was carrying which was confiscated by the authorities, Matar identifies himself as "Hassan Mughniyeh" – a combination of the names of Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hizbullah official who was assassinated in 2008.

As of this writing no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack and the heads of the Iran-backed militias have refrained from relating to the incident in any formal manner. Media identified with Hizbullah have also confined themselves to relatively brief reports about it. However, supporters of the above on social media have not hesitated to express their approval of the assailant who is often described by them as a "hero."

The following is a review of the responses to the attack on Rushdie by supporters of Hizbullah and Iran-backed militias:

Pro-Iran-Backed Militia Telegram Channels: Matar Delivered a Message from Nasrallah That We'll Avenge Anyone Who Offends the Sacred Figures of Islam

Telegram channels that support the Iran-backed militias in Iraq and in Lebanon rushed to praise the attack which they referred to as, "the implementation of Khomeini's fatwa."[2]

On August 13, the Sabereen News Telegram channel, which supports the Iran-backed militias in Iraq, published a drawing of Matar, with accompanying text which notes that he knew what he was doing and that he included clues in his documents, such as the name he chose for himself –"Hassan Mughniyeh" – "to convey a message from the secretary [general of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah] according to which Mughniyeh's legacy is thousands of trained fighters across the world, and anyone who attacks us is fated to be attacked, even if it takes a long time."[3]

A Telegram channel which describes itself as "a group of young people who belong to revolutionary Islam, from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen," shared a screenshot allegedly showing a message from Matar who is described as, "The hero of the Islamic nation… months before the operation against the apostate Salman Rushdie." The channel claims that Matar wrote the message in response to an assertion that he wouldn't succeed in killing Rushdie. The screenshot, purportedly taken from Matar's Telegram account, reads, "It's not easy But [sic] I mean I was thinking to have faith in Allah. Allah helped imam ali… lift [sic] Khaybar.[4] Maybe he can help a momim [i.e. believer] get through body guards [sic]. Body guards [sic] are not impossible…"[5]

Hizbullah Supporters on Twitter: Matar is a Hero

Similar sentiments were expressed by Hizbullah supporters on Twitter with the hashtags in Arabic and in English: #HadiMatar, #SalmanRushdie, and in Arabic #VersesOfTheMerciful [Allah], and #DivineVerses in an ironic reference to Rushdie's notorious book, The Satanic Verses. Supporters shared a drawing of Matar at the time of his arrest wearing a red headband emblazoned with the words, "I'm at your command Imam."

Twitter user Hassan Al-Jawad tweeted a drawing of Matar with the accompanying text, "We are the sons of the great Khomeini and we are proud of our deeds."[6] Al-Jawad used the drawing as his profile picture.

Twitter user Muhammad Abouraya from Lebanon also shared the drawing with the accompanying English words, "The Hero."[7]

Hawraa Kobayssi tweeted, "Every Rushdie in this world has [his] Hadi even if it takes time."[8]

Another Twitter used named Fatima tweeted, "We are people who do not abandon our mission even after many years. #SalmanRushdie–Allah'sCurseBeUponHim." In another tweet she wrote, "May your hands [deeds] be blessed."[9]



[1], August 13, 2022.

[3] Telegram, August 13, 2022.

[4] The reference is to the Battle of Khaybar, in which the Muslims fought the Jews who inhabited the Khaybar oasis and defeated them. According to Muslim tradition Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib, the Prophet's son-in-law, the person considered by Shi'ites to be the only legitimate heir o the Prophet, carried the banner of Islam into the battle.

[5] Telegram, August 13, 2022.

[6] Twitter, August 13, 2022.

[7] Twitter, August 13, 2022.

[8] Twitter, August 13, 2022.

[9] Twitter, August 13, 2022.

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