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Iranian Cleric Insists Rushdie Death Sentence Irrevocable

February 14, 1991

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ On the second anniversary of Tehran’s death sentence against author Salman Rushdie, a senior Iranian cleric today insisted the edict was irrevocable and still in force, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Mohammad Vaez-Zadeh Khorasani told Muslims that the fatwa, or religious edict, could not be superseded by any other religious figure, according to Iran’s official news agency.

The West is plotting ″to pardon the infidel Salman Rushdie with a fatwa from a religious figure and keep its subservient author for future services,″ said the report by IRNA, monitored in Nicosia.

Two years ago, Iran’s late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called on Muslims worldwide to seek out and kill Rushdie for defaming Islam in his novel ″The Satanic Verses.″

The Indian-born British writer has been hiding ever since, although he emerged for a few interviews and unannounced public appearances over the past few months.

He said he had embraced Islam and distanced himself from statements made by characters in his book, which many Muslims consider blashphemous.

Referring to Khomeini as the imam, or supreme religious leader, today’s statement by Khorasani said that ″the imam’s edict on this issue is not a usual fatwa or a religious edict that can be changed by another fatwa.″

Khorasani is secretary general of Iran’s Islamic Inter-Denomination Society, IRNA said.