The man accused of stabbing Sir Salman Rushdie has reportedly said he has only read two pages of the author’s controversial novel The Satanic Verses.
Hadi Matar, 24, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the assault at an event in New York last week.
In an interview with the New York Post from jail, Mr Matar said Sir Salman was “someone who attacked Islam”.
But he did not confirm that his alleged actions were driven by a fatwa issued by Iran in the 1980s.
Mr Matar is currently being held at Chautauqua County Jail, in New York state.
Sir Salman published his famous and controversial novel The Satanic Verses in 1988, sparking outrage among some Muslims, who considered its content to be blasphemous.
The book’s release prompted the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa, or edict, calling for the writer’s death in 1989.
Mr Matar told the New York Post he had only read “a couple of pages” of the book and did not say whether the fatwa had inspired him.
“I respect the Ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” he said.
Mr Matar also told the newspaper he was “surprised” to hear that Sir Salman had survived the attack.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person. I don’t like him very much,” Mr Matar said, according to the paper. “He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”
Earlier this week, Mr Matar’s mother said she had disowned her son after his alleged behaviour. “I’m done with him,” Silvana Fardos said on Monday, adding: “I have nothing to say to him.”
Sir Salman suffered a damaged liver as well as severed nerves in an arm and an eye in the attack, but was taken off a ventilator on Saturday.
Despite his “life-changing” injuries, the Booker Prize-winning author has retained his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour”, his family said earlier this week.
On Friday, a number of literary figures will read from his works on the steps on New York’s public library to show solidarity with the novelist.
Tina Brown, Paul Auster, Kiran Desai, Andrea Elliott, Hari Kunzru and Gay Talese will be among those taking part in Stand With Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write. (BBC)