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Rafsanjani: Opposition to Novel Spreading Islamic Revolution With AM-Satanic Verses-Impact,

March 11, 1989

Rafsanjani: Opposition to Novel Spreading Islamic Revolution With AM-Satanic Verses-Impact, Bjt

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ An Iranian envoy has been dispatched to encourage other Moslem nations to support Iran’s position on the novel ″The Satanic Verses″ at a conference this week, according to news reports Saturday.

In England, home of the novel’s author, Salman Rushdie, Moslems staged demonstrations in two cities.

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Parliament speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani said during an audience with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini the controversy over the book was helping export the Islamic revolution.

Khomeini did not speak during the meeting at a mosque in a Tehran suburb, said IRNA, monitored in Nicosia.

IRNA said Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati, a special envoy, was touring Moslem states in the region to try to forge a united front on the issue at the Organization of Islamic Conference meeting scheduled to begin Monday in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan said in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Velayati, that he hoped the OIC ″will take a decisive stand to condemn the book,″ IRNA reported.

Observers expect a showdown between the majority Sunni and the minority Shiite Moslems over the issue.

There are 100 million Shiites among the world’s estimated 1 billion Moslems. More than half the Shiites live in Iran, which has called on Moslems to kill Rushdie.

Many Moslems say ″The Satanic Verses″ blasphemes Islam by portraying the prophet Mohammed’s wives as prostitutes and suggesting Mohammed wrote the Koran rather than receiving it from God.

Most nations in the Middle East have banned the book, as have Asian countries with large Moslem populations.

At least 19 people have been killed in India and Pakistan in riots over the novel.

Rushdie, a naturalized British citizen born to a Moslem family in India, went into hiding after Khomeini issued his death threat last month and Iranian religious leaders put a $5.2 million bounty on his head.

Iran broke diplomatic relations with Britain on March 7 over its refusal to suppress the novel.

On Saturday, 2,000 Moslems marched five miles through the town of Slough west of London and burned an effigy of Rushdie.

Dozens of police officers escorted the marchers and lines of officers stood guard outside bookshops. Police said the march was peaceful and there were no arrests.

Busloads of protesters from around the English Midlands converged on the central England town of Leicester, and about 5,000 marched three miles through the city center.

Police stopped the protesters from burning an effigy of Rushdie. No one was arrested.

Update hourly