Hard-liners Renew Death Sentence on Rushdie

Hard-line Iranian bodies today renewed a death sentence on Salman Rushdie ahead of the 12th anniversary of the "fatwah" against the British author issued by former supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"We ask world Muslims to carry out this divine edict and cleanse the world of such mercenary Satans," the Islamic Propagation Organization said in a statement quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

The elite Revolutionary Guards also issued a statement in support of the fatwah issued by Khomeini on Feb. 14, 1989, against the Indian-born writer for alleged blasphemy against Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses.

"The fatwah against the apostate Rushdie is irrevocable. We ask our government to use diplomatic means to prevent the fatwah from being phased out," IRNA quoted the Guards' statement as saying.

Contradicting the Government

The Propagation Organization was created after the 1979 Islamic revolution to promote radical Islamic views around the world.

The calls came despite a 1998 pledge by the Iranian government not to seek to carry out the fatwah, a move that led to warmer ties with Britain.

Ignoring the pledge, a hard-line Iranian foundation last year offered to add interest to its $2.8 million bounty on Rushdie's head.

The Guards, the foundation and the Propagation Organization are among bodies controlled by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, widely seen to be closer to hard-line conservatives opposed to President Mohammad Khatami's liberal reforms.

Khatami Saturday accused hardliners of seeking to harm Iran's international image and undermine democracy at home.