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Ninth anniversary of fatwa against Salman Rushdie



(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - In a 12 February 1998 press release, ARTICLE 19
states that, in the run up to the ninth anniversary of the fatwa
threatening the lives of writer Salman Rushdie and his associates, the
International Rushdie Defence Committee has written to European Union
(EU) President Robin Cook asking if it would be possible for Rushdie to
have a brief, but publicised, meeting with him on or around the time of
the ninth anniversary of the fatwa -- that is 14 February 1998.





**Updates IFEX alerts and press releases of 30, 11 April and 14 February
1997, 15 February 1996 and others**

The joint Rushdie Defence Committees believe that the ninth anniversary
of the fatwa is an appropriate time to remind governments, including the
government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that the bounty money offered
for Mr Rushdie's life is a clear incitement to terrorism. The Committees
believe that the issue of continuing terrorist threat from the Iranian
State must be dealt with before there can be a resumption of full
diplomatic relations between EU Member States and Iran.

Following is the full text of a 4 February letter to Cook. Letters were
also sent to the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister, wondering if he
"would raise the question of the bounty money at the next meeting of the
Nordic cooperation, with the objective of obtaining a joint Nordic
response on the issue," and asking for a meeting between Foreign Affairs
and Rushdie to "confirm that renewed efforts to resolve the fatwa will be
made during the tenure of the present Norwegian government." An appeal
was also sent to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (appended to this
document).

"We write on behalf of the joint Rushdie Defence Committees on the
occasion of the ninth anniversary of the Iranian fatwa which continues to
threaten the lives of Salman Rushdie and his associates.

"While we welcome recent statements made by President Mohammad Khatami in
an interview with CNN [Cable News Network] TV, which stressed the
necessity of the rule of law and justice in Iran, we remain concerned
that the $2.5 million bounty, offered by the Iranian 15 Khordad
Foundation, is a clear incitement to murder.

"We are alarmed, also, by threats uttered by Mr Ibrahim Rahimpoor,
Director of the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran, against Salman
Rushdie, William Nygaard, Norwegian Publisher of 'The Satanic Verses',
and others associated with the publication of the novel.

"We are anxious to know if Mr Rahimpoor's threats, recorded by Norwegian
TV2 and broadcast in part on 15 December 1997, and at length on 16
December 1997, represent the current policy of the Government of the
Islamic Republic of Iran .

"On 26 January, the EU's General Affairs Council invited its Political
Committee to prepare a review of the EU's policy towards Iran. This would
take into account recent developments in Iran as well as progress in the
areas of concern set out in the EU's 1992 Edinburgh Declaration and the
declaration of 29 April 1997.

"We fully expect that any review of the EU's policy towards Iran will
also take into account the bounty money on Mr Rushdie's life and the
continuing threat to his publishers, translators and other associates.

"We also ask that any negotiation of EU policy on Iran will include
within its framework a mechanism to provide for an immediate response to
further statements of the kind made by Director Rahimpoor."

(Signed)

Dr Frances D'Souza, on behalf of:
The International Rushdie Defence Committee
Den Danske Rushdie-Komite
Deutsches Salman Rushdie-Komitee
Suomen Rushdiekomitea - Rushdiekommitten I Finland
Comite de Defense de Salman Rushdie en France
Rushdie Defence Committee Nederland
Den Norske Stottekomiteen for Salman Rushdie
Svenska Rushdie-Kommitten
Rushdie Defense Committee USA

Appeals To



The Rt Hon Robin Cook MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and
President of the EU Council of Ministers
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
London SW1A 2AH United Kingdom

Mr Knut Vollebaek
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
7 Juni Plassenl
Postboks 8114 Dep
N-0032
Oslo, Norway
Fax: +47 22 83 39 34

Appeals should also be sent to:

His Excellency Mohammad Khatami
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax via: +98 21 3114943 (try +98 21 67 47 90 if number does not work)








Appendix:

10 February letter to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami:

"Your Excellency,

"We write to you on behalf of the writer Salman Rushdie and his
associates whose lives continue to be threatened by the fatwa issued by
the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"In your recent interview with CNN [Cable News Network] TV you eloquently
described the aspirations of the Islamic Revolution, as it enters the
21st century, as those of religiosity, liberty and justice. You also
discussed the historical confrontation between religion and liberty and,
repeatedly, stressed the necessity of the rule of law and justice in Iran.

"However, it would appear that other members of your government do not
share these sentiments. In December, Mr Ibrahim Rahimpoor, Director of
the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran, made serious threats against
Salman Rushdie, William Nygaard, Norwegian Publisher of 'The Satanic
Verses', and others associated with the publication of the novel.

"We are anxious to know if Mr Rahimpoor's threats, recorded by Norwegian
TV2 and broadcast in Norway in part on 15 December 1997, and at length on
16 December 1997, represent the current policy of the Government of the
Islamic Republic of Iran.

"In your CNN interview you also claimed that if you received proof that
an Iranian official had used funds to reward or finance any group or
individual involved in an act of terrorism you would deal with it, as
would the 'Leader' and Iran's 'entire system.'

"We believe that the bounty offered by the 15 Khordad Foundation for the
life of Salman Rushdie, which was increased to $2.5 million on 12
February 1997, is a clear incitement to terrorism. This degrading and
demeaning offer of blood money has contributed to a backlash against
members of Muslim communities in Europe which, in turn, has resulted in
ugly incidents of violence and racism which we totally oppose.

"We welcome your call for a dialogue and understanding between our
cultures and a discourse between scholars, thinkers, writers, artists,
journalists and academics.

"In the interests of such exchanges, and as representatives of scholars,
thinkers, writers, artists, journalists and academics, we earnestly
request that you call upon the 15 Khordad Foundation to revoke the bounty
money on Mr Rushdie's life and take the necessary measures to support
international peace and security founded on justice."


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