Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Who knew that old fatwa was still in force?

Who knew the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie was still in force?
The fatwa, or religious edict, for killing Salman Rushdie, author of the hugely popular, but apparently unliked in some quarters, novel The Satanic Verses, was established back in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and a wealthy Iranian religious organization offered $2.7 million to anyone undertaking the holy act of killing the author. This bounty was later increased to $3.3 million in 2012, and now, some 27 years after the book's publication, various Iranian media outlets have upped it by another $600,000, apparently "to show it [the fatwa] is still alive".
More recent Iranian leaders, with the notable exception of hardliner Ayatollah Ali Khameini, have largely tried to distance themselves from the fatwa, although without going so far as to prosecute those who are actively promoting it.
Current president, Hassan Rouhani, is generally considered a moderate, and genuinely seems to be trying to build bridges with the West. If he wanted to send a very clear message, he could easily denounce the fatwa, and take to task those in his country who are publicly calling for the murder of foreign nationals. However, there is very little chance of that in a benighted country still largely run by religious nuts.

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