Rushdie’s Death Sentence Stands, Iran Says

<i> from United Press International</i>

Iran’s spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruled Wednesday that the death sentence issued last year against British author Salman Rushdie remains in force, Tehran Radio reported.

Khamenei issued a statement two days after Rushdie renounced his novel “The Satanic Verses.” The statement described Rushdie as an apostate--an apparent rejection of the author’s announcement that he had embraced Islam.

The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued the controversial death edict against Rushdie in February, 1989, for writing the novel, which many Muslims believe is blasphemous.


Khamenei said that Khomeini ruled before his death last year that the edict against Rushdie would remain in place even if the author repented and that Khomeini’s order therefore still stands.

The statement said Rushdie’s renunciation of his novel was the first fruit of Khomeini’s order against the author.

On Tuesday, the Tehran newspaper Abrar, owned by hard-line Iranian clerics, said: “Imam Khomeini’s historical edict against Rushdie is irrevocable even if he repents.”

The official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Abrar as saying the author’s latest moves were “propaganda maneuvers by the British government aimed at bringing Rushdie out of isolation and making Muslims neglect the verdict.”

Rushdie made his announcement Monday after meeting with British Muslim leaders. He said he will not permit the publication of paperback editions or further translations of the book.

The British Broadcasting Corp. quoted Rushdie as saying, “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed was his last prophet.”


The 43-year-old author, born in India of Muslim parents, has been in hiding since the death edict was handed down.