Rushdie attack suspect ‘changed’ by visiting Lebanon, says mother

LONDON: The accused attacker of British author Salman Rushdie was transformed by a trip to Lebanon in 2018, when he became more religious and less outgoing, his mother has said.

Lebanon-born Silvana Fardos, from Fairview, New Jersey, described her 24-year-old son Hadi Matar as “a moody introvert” who became increasingly obsessed with Islam after the visit to see his estranged father.

“He once argued with me asking why I was encouraging him to study instead of focusing on religion,” she told Britain’s Daily Mail website.

“He was angry that I didn’t introduce him to Islam from an early age,” she said in an interview.

Matar was arrested at the scene of the attack on Rushdie, 75, at a literary event in upstate New York on Friday.

He pleaded not guilty the next day to attempted murder and assault with a weapon and is being held without bond.

Prosecutors described a planned and premeditated assault on Rushdie, who was stabbed approximately 10 times. Police have not provided any information about the suspect’s background or possible motive.

Fardos said she was “shocked” to receive a call from one of her 14-year-old twin daughters telling her the FBI was at the family’s home and her son would be responsible.

“I just can’t believe he was capable of doing something like this. He was very calm, everyone loved him,” she said.

Fardos said federal agents removed Matar’s computer, PlayStation, books and other items, including knives and a sharpener. Her son “changed a lot” after his trip to Lebanon, she said.

“I expected him to come back motivated, to finish school, to get his degree and a job, but instead he locked himself in the basement,” he said. she declared.

“I couldn’t tell you much about his life after that because he isolated me since 2018,” and also said little to the rest of his family for months. “He sleeps during the day and wakes up and eats during the night,” she said.

Fardos, a teaching assistant and translator, said she was born a Muslim, but wasn’t religious and didn’t care about politics – and had never even heard of Rushdie. “I didn’t know my son had read his book,” she said.

Matar was born in the United States and raised in California. His parents divorced in 2004, his father Hassan Matar moved back to Lebanon, while Fardos moved to New Jersey, according to the Mail.

Posted in Dawn, August 16, 2022

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