(New York, N.Y.) — Last Friday, Hadi Matar allegedly stabbed Salman Rushdie while the author was lecturing in western New York. The attack came over 30 years after the Islamic Republic of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa ordering Rushdie’s death for his novel The Satanic Verses. Khomeini declared the book ran counter to the tenets of Islam, the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and the Quran, and Rushdie must therefore face death. Khomeini’s teachings emphasized the necessity of defending against blasphemy against Islam. Khomeini also set the tone for decades of failed U.S.-Iran relations and mistrust by labeling the United States as Iran’s primary enemy. Though Khomeini himself died in 1989, core components of Khomeini’s philosophies and teachings—known as Khomeinism—continue to influence the actions of Iran and its terrorist proxies today.
To read CEP’s resource Khomeinism, please click here.
Khomeinism promotes absolute religious authority in government and rejects Western interference and influence. Khomeini’s attitudes have translated into human rights violations both at home and abroad, as well as at least five attacks against Rushdie and others involved in publishing, translating, and distributing his book worldwide.
Khomeini cast the United States as the root cause of Iran’s socio-economic problems and “the foremost enemy of Islam.” He further accused the United States of leading an international anti-Islamic front. As a result, Irani-sponsored terrorist groups and actors have frequently targeted U.S. interests, beginning with the 1979 hostage crisis and continuing through the present day.
Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, relies on Khomeinist ideals to continue his authoritarian domestic policies and support for terrorism abroad. The Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Khomeinism explores how Khomeini’s legacy has directly spawned or influenced major violent extremist organizations, including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah, and more recently formed Iraq-based Shiite militias.
To read CEP’s resource Ruhollah Khomeini, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource Ali Khamenei, please click here.