Iranian Media Add $600,000 to Bounty Offered for Death of Salman Rushdie

The British author became the subject of an Iranian fatwa in 1989, after the publication of his book 'The Satanic Verses.'

AP

Iran's 27-year-long fatwa against author Salman Rushdie is now $600,000 richer, after 40 state-run media outlets pooled together to increase the bounty offered for Rushdie's killing, the Guardian website reported.

The fatwa was issued by late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, after the publication of Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses," which Khomeini regarded as being blasphemous against Islam.

By now, millions of dollars have been allocated to reward Rushdie's killer.

The fatwa, which caused Rushdie to go into hiding and hire full-time bodyguards, caused an international outcry. Britain, Rushdie's country of residence, severed diplomatic relations with Iran for close to a decade.

Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami said in 1998 that the fatwa was “finished,” but it was never officially lifted. Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader, and other religious officials have reiterated it several times since.

“Imam Khomeini’s fatwa is a religious decree and it will never lose its power or fade out,” Iran’s deputy culture minister Seyed Abbas Salehi told Fars, Iran's official news agency, which reported the new funding.

"The Satanic Verses" was banned in several countries, including India, Sudan, Bangladesh and South Africa.

While Rushdie has survived the fatwa unscathed, several other people involved in the publication of the book have been less lucky. Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death in 1991 and the Italian translator Ettore Capriolo barely survived a stabbing attack at his Milan apartment in 1991.

In addition, the Turkish translator Aziz Nesin escaped an arson attack on a hotel in 1993 in which 37 people were killed and the Norwegian publisher William Nygaard survived being shot three times in Oslo in 1993.

Iran withdrew from the Frankfurt Book Fair last year after Rushdie was announced as a speaker.