Rushdie 'fatwa' is irrevocable

TEHRAN (AFP) - The Iranian death sentence on the author Salman Rushdie cannot be revoked as it was passed by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said yesterday.

Only Ayatollah Khomeini himself could have revoked the decree, but 'alas, he is dead', President Rafsanjani said. The President also attacked Western countries for giving the Rushdie issue a 'political character'.

Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa, or religious decree, against Mr Rushdie on 14 February 1989, charging that his book The Satanic Verses had committed blasphemy against Islam.