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Iran slams British knighthood for Rushdie

world Updated: Jun 17, 2007 18:07 IST

AFP
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Iran on Saturday accused British leaders of "Islamophobia" for knighting Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, who was issued with a death fatwa by Iran's revolutionary leader 18 years ago.

"Knighting one of the most hated figures in the Islamic world is a clear sign of Islamophobia among high-ranking British officials," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.

"Honouring a hated apostate will definitely put the British statesmen against the Islamic community and hurts their feeling once again," he said of the novelist, who was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday.

"Insulting Islamic religious sanctities is not accidental but organised and is taking place with the support and direction of some Western countries."

Rushdie, 59, was forced to go into hiding for a decade after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death sentence in 1989 over his book "The Satanic Verses," claiming it insulted Islam.

The fatwa triggered violent protests from radical Muslims worldwide and a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the West.

In 1998, Iran's government said it would not apply the fatwa, despite a 2.8 million dollar bounty placed on Rushdie's head by a Tehran-based foundation.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in January 2005 that he still believed the British novelist was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam.

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