ExTrac, a conflict analytics system, is reporting that the Iranian government and pro-Iranian government media and social media have “enthusiastically welcomed” the recent stabbing of British-American novelist Salman Rushdie. According to a report by ExTrac:
August 15, 2022 This report sets out the main contours of how communities associated with and supportive of the Iranian government’s “axis of resistance” have been responding to the 12 August attack on Indian-born British- American novelist Salman Rushdie. Focusing in particular on supporter- and member-level perceptions of the attack, which ExTrac’s systems have been monitoring in real time since Friday, it shows that news of the New York stabbing was enthusiastically welcomed by these audiences, whose reactions centred around one of four core discourses — rationalisation, reverence, relevance, and retaliation — each of which is discussed in detail below.
Read the full report here.
The report says that the reactions of pro-Iranian media and social media accounts centered around rationalization, reverence, relevance, and retaliation:
- Proponents of the rationalization narrative have justified the attack as a “righteous” act against an “apostate” who had “blasphemed against Islam.”
- Proponents of the reverence narrative have praised the “heroism” of the attacker.
- Proponents of the relevance narrative highlighted the relevance of the doctrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first leader of Iran’s “Islamic revolution.”
- Proponents of the retaliation narrative framed the attack as a justified retaliation against Western interests (not “just” an attempt on Rushdie’s life)
The ExTrac report identified what it called the three most prominent Twitter influencers that posted the words “the apostate Salman Rushdie” in Arabic between 12 and 14 August. The report further said that two of these influencers are “explicitly aligned with (and possibly operated on behalf of) the Iranian government, and the third is a key influencer for Lebanese Hizbullah.”
US media recently reported that Iranian officials denied Tehran was involved in the stabbing of Rushdie but still justified the attack, saying they “don’t consider anyone deserving reproach, blame or even condemnation, except for (Rushdie) himself and his supporters.” Rushdie has faced death threats for more than 30 years over his novel “The Satanic Verses,” whose depiction of the Prophet Muhammad was seen by some Muslims as blasphemous. The book and its author were the subjects of a February 1989 fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie and his publishers issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of Iran