Precede: NICOSIA Iranian President Says Death Threat Against Rushdie Stands
BEIJING (AP) _ Iranian President Ali Khamenei said today Iran still demands the execution of British author Salman Rushdie for his novel ″The Satanic Verses,″ which some say insults Islam.
Khamenei, speaking at a news conference, also denied that Iran’s parliament speaker, Hashemi Rafsanjani, had called for the murder of Westerners. He said Rafanjani’s words were distorted by the Western media.
Rafsanjani, previously regarded as a moderate who supported better ties with the West, is expected to succeed Khamenei when he finishes his term in office later this year.
″The decision made about Salman Rushdie is still valid,″ Khamenei said. ″As I have already said, this is a bullet for which there is a target. It has been shot. It will one day sooner or later hit the target.″
Iran’s spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, in February said Rushdie must be killed for writing ″The Satanic Verses,″ which contains passages many Moslems say are insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.
Rushdie has been in hiding since the death threat was issued.
Khamenei, on a six-day visit to China, also said Rafsanjani ″has not recommended anybody kill anybody.″
The Iranian speaker, he said, was offering an analysis that U.S. policies toward ″the oppressed people of Palestine would only lead to such a situation.″
In a speech Friday, Rafsanjani reportedly called on Palestinians to kill five American, French or British citizens in retaliation for each Arab slain in the uprising in the Israeli-occupied territories.
He later denied that he supported the killing of Western civilians.
Earlier today, Khamenei met with China’s senior leader, Deng Xiaoping, who expressed hope that Iran and Iraq, which have agreed to a cease-fire after their eight-year war, will live in peace.
″All the Third World countries should unite and refrain from wasting their strength on disputes,″ Deng was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying. ″We also hope to see a stable Middle East.″
Deng, 84, looking frail and meeting Khamenei for only 20 minutes, noted that China is also working for international stability.
Khamenei also has met Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and Premier Li Peng for talks that have included China’s participation in reconstruction of Iran’s war-torn economy.
Khamenei leaves Friday for Xinjiang, China’s far-western province which has a large Moslem minority.