Sir: Iran's protestation that Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie is inviolable because it is a religious edict ("Rushdie's killing `a Muslim duty' ", 12 April), not a political decision, must not be taken at face value. For was it not Khomeini himself who declared, shortly before he died, that the Islamic state "could even ban praying, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca" if it thought its interests endangered?
Vigilance is, of course, advised for as long as Rushdie lives. Khomeini also approved of the (pragmatic) practice of taqiyan, which allows the Muslim to lie under duress.
Realistically, we may expect the threat to the writer's life to be lifted only when the struggle for undisputed leadership in Tehran is resolved. Once a new leader can afford to emerge from under Khomeini's shadow, then, in the footsteps of another revolutionary, Stalin, he will be able to enter into a pact with the greatest of the Satanic forces!
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