Rushdie death threat renewed

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The Independent Online
The death sentence, or fatwa, on the author Salman Rushdie remains active, the leader of Britain's Muslim parliament said last night.

Dr Kalim Siddiqui, quoting from a speech he intends to deliver in London tomorrow, said the fatwa "was and remains an order that must be carried out as and when it becomes possible to do so". The fatwa, pronounced by Ayatollah Khomeini seven years ago, followed the furore resulting from Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses.

Recent statements from Iran appeared to soften the hardline stance, and last month an unnamed diplomat in London, allegedly speaking with the full authority of the government, reportedly gave an assurance that Iran would not send someone to carry out the order.

However,the comments from Dr Siddiqui, will do little to reassure Mr Rushdie that he should be optimistic about resuming a normal life. In part of the speech, Dr Siddiqui says: "We must not take up a defensive position on the fatwa describing it as merely a `religious decree', as Iran does today; the fatwa was and remains an order that must be carried out."

Dr Frances D'Souza, chair of the Rushdie Defence Committee, said: "Mr Siddiqui's comments are absolutely unhelpful . . . He should check back with his Iranian contacts before making statements of this kind. It's completely out of line with the Iranians."