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Calls for Rushdie’s Death Renewed

February 13, 2001

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Hard-line groups have renewed calls for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie, saying the United States, where the Indian-born novelist now lives, is a better place to do it.

Iran’s late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa _ or Islamic edict _ against Rushdie on Feb. 14, 1989. He ordered Muslims to kill the Indian-born author because he had allegedly insulted Islam in his best-selling novel, ``The Satanic Verses.″

Khomeini’s fatwa sent Rushdie into hiding, under police protection.

In 1998, the Iranian government ended its endorsement of the Khomeini edict. But it could not rescind it, because according to Islamic law only the person who issued the decree can revoke it. Khomeini died of cancer in June 1989.

All Iranian newspapers ignored the anniversary of the edict in their Tuesday editions except the hard-line daily Jomhuri Islami. The Farsi-language newspaper ran a 16-page special supplement with the edict splashed across its front page above a cartoon depicting Rushdie, who now lives in New York, looking at a mirror reflection of himself headless.

The daily said in an editorial that Rushdie’s move to the United States would make his killing easier, saying his new location offered ``more possibilities of executing this traitor in America.″ It did not elaborate.

On Monday, the Revolutionary Guards, the country’s main military force, issued a statement saying the death sentence against Rushdie still stands, according to a report by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Ayatollah Hassan Saneii, head of the semi-official Khordad foundation, which has allocated a $2.8-million bounty on Rushdie’s head, was quoted by Jomhuri Islami as saying that Khomeini’s verdict is unchangeable. Last year Saneii said the foundation’s reward ``will be paid with the accumulated interest″ to those who enforce the decree.

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