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The Times: March 8, 1989: Tehran breaks with UK over Rushdie controversy: Iran formally broke diplomatic relations with Britain yesterday, so shattering any chance of a compromise over Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, and setting back hopes of progress for Britons held in Iran and Lebanon.
The Times

March 8, 1989: Tehran breaks with UK over Rushdie controversy

Iran formally broke diplomatic relations with Britain yesterday, so shattering any chance of a compromise over Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, and setting back hopes of progress for Britons held in Iran and Lebanon.

The Foreign Office reacted by blaming the Iranians for causing the rupture and accusing them of going back on their word in halting a scheduled consular visit yesterday to the British prisoner in Tehran, Mr Roger Cooper.

The Iranian announcement of the move, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, declared: “In the past two centuries, Britain has been in the frontline of plots and treachery against Islam and Muslims.” It claimed that Britain worked against Islamic movements in Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan, and that the controversy over the book was part of a sophisticated cultural and “anti-Islamic campaign”.

The Foreign Office said that it had not received any official message about the break, although the move was widely expected following a vote in the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) last week which gave Britain seven days to take legal action against the book and its author or face the severing of ties. A spokesman for the Foreign Office gave notice that London “would make its response known in due course”, and said the rupture was “entirely of Iran’s making” because Tehran’s behaviour made normal relations impossible. He said: “Incitement to murder is a violation of the most elementary principles and obligations that govern relations between sovereign states.”

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