Three weeks have passed since the violent attack on the renowned British writer Salman Rushdie, the author of the controversial book the Satanic Verses. When it was published in 1988 it earned him a death fatwa from Ruhollah Khomeini the leader of the Iranian revolution At the time, Khomeini’s fatwa drove Rushdie underground as he had to spend his days in hiding under the protection of two Scotland Yard police officers.
Rushdie’s assailant, 24-year old Hadi Matar, a dual Lebanese-American citizen was indoctrinated into Khomeini’s brand of Shia and its Lebanese chapter Hezbollah. He admitted that he only read two pages from the book, but nevertheless decided to carry out the attack which Rushdie survived.
Interestingly, Matar’s crime, at least in the western media, was misrepresented as an act committed by a disturbed young man rather than of the birth, or rather the launch of a new terrorist lone wolf.
While it might be impossible to prove any direct link between Matar and Iran’s brand of terrorism what is certain is that this young Shia holding dual nationality will become a textbook description of a lone wolf terrorist. His ideological recruitment process differs little from that of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers or the tens of similar terrorist attacks triggered by Islamic radicalization.
For the Lebanese who are cautious about the image of their diaspora and their seminal role in the building of many of the success stories of the nation states they decided to emigrate to and call home, Hadi Matar is another earnest reminder of the level their country has stooped to.
Adding insult to injury, Hezbollah and its cohort went beyond rejoicing for Matar’s crime to attack anyone who was brave and decent enough to call the Iranian revolution’s culture of hate and blood and expose them for the criminals they really are. Amongst those brave souls come the Lebanese journalist Dima Sadek who shortly after the Rushdie attack tweeted a picture of Khomeini along with the assassinated Iranian General Kassem Soleimani with the comment: “Satanic Verses.”
Consequently, Sadek, and anyone who denounced the attack, became the target of a huge cyber bullying campaign orchestrated by Jawad Nasrallah the son of Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan. Jawad is one of the organization’s self-proclaimed social media influencers operating a series of coffee shops and uses them to recruit foot solders for his cyber army.
While they used to export poets, scientists and top tier physicians and engineers, now Lebanon’s most renowned export is Matar. Him and other fanatics have a religious zeal that does not prevent them from engaging in the manufacturing and the distribution of drugs and other illegal activities.
Perhaps more dangerously many western media outlets were consciously lazy in reporting about the violent backlash that opponents of Hezbollah were subjected to after bravely calling out Iran’s violence and abduction of Lebanon.
Interestingly, Hezbollah’s whole ideological premise stems from its claim that they are agents of God. It’s preposterous, but Hassan Nasrallah reiterated in his latest speech. Yet, his supposed moral high ground and supposed defense of Islam against the fiction of Salam Rushdie disregards basic human rights. It has no respect whatsoever for freedom of expression, unless it fits with his apocalyptic vision of the world.
The Rushdie stabbing might be brushed aside by the so-called liberal West and the Biden team. It is particularly true for those heavily invested in pushing through the Iran nuclear deal. They continue to whitewash crimes committed by the Iranian regime and its satellites. They are deemed inconsequential.
Yet, Hadi Matar or what he stands for is at the crux of Lebanon and the region’s dilemma. Iran is permitted to continue to run its terror project, and with it, push the many countries it occupies further into the abyss. It is a disaster in the making if action is not taken to reign in Iran’s violent expansion.
There are lessons to be learned from the attempt on Rushdie’s life. Amongst them is an understanding that Iran and its regional project is no less satanic than the verses it claims to oppose.