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URGENT Million-Dollar Reward Offered for Rushdie’s Killing

February 15, 1989

LONDON (AP) _ A senior Iranian cleric today offered up to $2.6 million for the slaying of Salman Rushdie, whose novel ″The Satanic Verses″ has angered Moslem fundamentalists. Newspapers said the writer was under armed guard.

A representative of Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said any Iranian who kills Rushdie will receive a reward of 200 million rials, or $2.6 million, for bringing ″this mercenary of arrogance to his punishment,″ the Islamic Republic News Agency said in a report from Tehran.

The representative, Hojatoleslam Hassan Saneie, who heads the Islamic charitable foundation 15th Khortad, said the group would pay a foreigner $1 million for killing the 41-year-old author.

Demonstrators in the Iranian capital broke windows at the British Embassy, a diplomat there said. He said no embassy employees were injured. About 2,000 people took part in the protest, expressing support for Khomeini’s decree and anger over the book.

IRNA, in a report monitored in Cyprus, said the Revolutionary Guards Corps today expressed their ″readiness to carry out the Imam’s (Khomeini’s) decree.″

Khomeini, leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, said Tuesday that Rushdie’s novel is so offensive to Islam that he had ordered the author and the novel’s publishers put to death.

A senior British diplomat, reached at the embassy by telephone from Cyprus, said today the ″noisy″ demonstrators paraded outside the walled compound for three hours before dispersing. ″Local authorities provided effective protection,″ said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said the demonstrators hurled stones at the building, breaking some windows. He said all seven British employees were inside the embassy at the time, and that none of them was hurt.

Tehran Radio reported that Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told diplomats in Tehran his government will order the closure of cultural centers belonging to nations that permit publication of the book.

In London, police would not confirm a report in The Times of London that Rushdie was under armed police guard. Scotland Yard said it was police policy not to comment on matters of personal security.

It is rare for British police to guard private citizens.

A spokeswoman for Viking, publisher of the novel, said today it could not confirm or deny that Rushdie, a London resident who was born into a Moslem family in India, was under guard.

Rushdie’s agent, Gillon Aitken, said a decision would be made soon on whether the author should go ahead with a promotional and lecture tour of the United States. The tour had been scheduled to begin Friday.

In Pakistan, fundamentalist and opposition leaders called for a peaceful ″day of mourning″ Friday to protest the book.

Six people were killed and 82 injured when police opened fire Sunday on demonstrators who stormed a U.S. cultural center in Islamabad to demand the novel be banned in the United States, where it recently went on sale. One person was killed in a similar protest Monday in northern India.

″The Satanic Verses″ has sold more than 100,000 copies since it was published in Britain in September to critical acclaim.

At least five countries have formally banned the novel - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and South Africa.

Khomeini’s threat emerged in a Tehran Radio broadcast that quoted him as saying Rushdie and his publishers ″are hereby sentenced to death.″

″I call on all zealous Moslems to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctity,″ it quoted Khomeini as saying of the Bombay-born and Cambridge-educated novelist.

The Foreign Office on Tuesday expressed ″grave concern″ about Khomeini’s reported remarks. Rushdie said he was taking them ″very seriously indeed.″

The Daily Mail printed a picture that it said showed Rushdie and his wife Marianne in London on Tuesday, but they could not be contacted at home.

Moslems revere Mohammed as the prophet who brought Allah’s revelations to mankind in the Koran, the holy book of Islam.

They are especially angered by one sequence in ″The Satanic Verses″ in which prostitutes are given the names of some of Mohammed’s nine wives and by the book’s implication that Mohammed, not Allah, may have been the real author of the Koran.

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