Reuters: Iran accused Britain on Sunday of insulting Islam by awarding a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” prompted the late Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa death warrant for him. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran accused Britain on Sunday of insulting Islam by awarding a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” prompted the late Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa death warrant for him.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Rushdie, awarded for services to literature in Queen Elizabeth’s birthday honors list published on Saturday, was “one of the most hated figures” in the Islamic world.
Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini portrayed the decision as an act directed against Islam by Britain, which is among world powers involved in an escalating standoff with Iran over Tehran’s disputed nuclear ambitions.
“Honoring and commending an apostate and hated figure will definitely put the British officials (in a position) of confrontation with Islamic societies,” Hosseini said.
“This act shows that insulting Islamic sacred (values) is not accidental. It is planned, organized, guided and supported by some Western countries,” he told a regular briefing.
The Islamic Republic’s government formally distanced itself in 1998 from the original fatwa against Rushdie, issued in 1989 by Khomeini who said the book committed blasphemy against Islam. Rushdie lived in hiding for nine years.
But shortly after it disavowed the death edict under a deal with Britain, Iranian media said three Iranian clerics called on followers to kill Rushdie, saying the fatwa was irrevocable and that it was the duty of Muslims to carry it out.
Britain’s twice-yearly honors ritual — designed to recognize outstanding achievement — is part of an ancient and complex honors system. A total of 946 honors were handed out in the birthday list, including 21 knighthoods.
Hosseini said: “Giving a badge to one of the most hated figures in Islamic society is … an obvious example of fighting against Islam by high-ranking British officials.”
London’s history of imperial intervention in Iran still overshadows ties between the two countries.
On Thursday, demonstrators pelted the British embassy in Tehran with stones and eggs and condemned anyone attending the queen’s annual birthday party as “traitors” and supporters of the “Old Fox” Britain.
In March, Iranian forces seized 15 British servicemen in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that separates Iran and Iraq, triggering a diplomatic crisis. Tehran, which said the Britons were in Iranian waters, released them in early April.
Britain and other Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to build atom bombs. Iran says its nuclear program is solely aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.