Fears for Rushdie's safety after knighthood angers Iran
BRITAIN'S former ambassador to Iran warned of "serious grounds for concern" for Salman Rushdie's safety after the news the novelist has received a knighthood ignited uproar in Iran over the weekend.
Sir Salman was denounced as "one of the Islamic world's most hated figures" by Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini.
He declared: "Honouring and commending an apostate and hated figure will definitely put the British officials [in a position] of confrontation with Islamic societies."
Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to the Islamic Republic, said there were "serious grounds for concern" for Sir Salman, whose death was demanded in a fatwa, or edict, by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. The Indian-born novelist was deemed to have blasphemed against Islam in his novel, The Satanic Verses.
Nearly a decade later, the Iranian government formally guaranteed that it would not attempt to enforce the fatwa, but fears have continued that individual Muslim extremists could take it upon themselves to do the Ayatollah's bidding.
"I can't rule that out," said Sir Richard. "Look at the terms of the statement's elements of the revolutionary guards make each year on the anniversary of the fatwa."
Many in Iran will also see the decision to knight Rushdie for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, as London's retaliation for Iran's seizure of 15 British sailors and marines three months ago. Tehran portrayed that episode as a humiliating defeat for the "little Satan" Britain.
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