The mom of the New Jersey man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie says her son was a basement-dwelling loner who barely worked, never had a girlfriend — and “changed” after visiting the Mideast.
“’I feel sorry for Mr Rushdie,” Fardos said.
As for her son, the mom added, “As I said to the FBI, I’m not going to bother talking to him again.
“He’s responsible for his actions,” she said.
The mom said she was born Muslim but is not religious. She said she hadn’t even heard of Rushdie until after the famed “Satanic Verses” author was attacked in western New York and the FBI began contacting her family.
Her son is accused of rushing Rushdie as the writer was about to give a lecture, stabbing him in the neck and abdomen. The author remained in critical condition as of Sunday but is expected to recover, although he may lose an eye.
Sources have told The Post that Matar’s motive appears to be religiously driven. In 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie after alleging “Satanic Verses” mocked the religion.
“I didn’t push my kids into religion or force anything on my son,” Fardos told the Mail. “I don’t know anyone in Iran, all my family are here. I’m living a simple life as a single mom, trying to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table for my kids.”
But Fardos, who also has twin 14-year-olds, said her eldest child grew more religious as he got older.
She noted that her son’s demeanor particularly changed in 2018 after he returned from a trip to Lebanon, her home country, where he was visiting his father.
“I was expecting him to come back motivated, to complete school, to get his degree and a job. But instead he locked himself in the basement,” the mom said. “He had changed a lot, he didn’t say anything to me or his sisters for months.
“I couldn’t tell you much about his life after that because he has isolated me since 2018. If I approach him sometimes he says hi, sometimes he just ignores me and walks away.
“One time he argued with me, asking why I encouraged him to get an education instead of focusing on religion. He was angry that I did not introduce him to Islam from a young age,” she said.
Matar often slept all day and would spend his nights on the computer in her home’s basement, which he barred his mom from entering, Fardos said.
She said he had never worked before a few months ago, when he got a job at Marshalls, although it is unclear if he was employed there at the time of the attack.
“To tell you the truth, I never heard of this writer before,” Fardos said of Rushdie. “I never read any of his books, I didn’t know that such a writer even exists. I have no knowledge that my son ever read his book.”
Matar pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in connection with the shocking public attack at The Chautauqua Institute, a nonprofit education and retreat center.
“I am unable to comment on any other matters or discussions I’ve had with Mr. Matar since that is confidential and privileged information,” his lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, told The Post in a statement. “We look forward to the scheduled Preliminary Hearing on August 19, 2022 and having the opportunity to aggressively exercise Mr. Matar’s constitutional rights.”
Matar is currently being held in jail without bail.
Despite his issues, his mother claimed, “everyone loved” her son.
“I just cannot believe he was capable of doing something like this,” said the mom, who did not return calls from The Post for comment.
She said she hopes Rushdie recovers.
“But there’s nothing much I can say or do because this wasn’t my act,” she added.
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