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Iran Boycotts Book Fair Over Rushdie Invite

British writer Salman Rushdie has faced death threats since the publication of his 1989 novel The Satanic Verses.

Iran says it will boycott next week's Frankfurt Book Fair because the event has invited author Salman Rushdie to be a guest speaker.

The Iranian Culture Ministry said on its website on October 8 that Rushdie is hated in the Islamic world for writing "books insulting to Islam."

Rushdie, a British citizen who lives in the United States, had a fatwa, or religious edict, issued against him by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 because he found Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, to be "blasphemous against Islam."

Deputy Culture Minister Abbas Salehi told the ISNA news agency on October 5 that it had sent a letter of protest about Rushdie's appearance to organizers of the book fair, which is one of the largest in the world.

Salehi said Iran urged other Muslim countries to join in the boycott of the October 14-18 fair.

The fatwa forced Rushdie into hiding for many years and put him under nonstop police protection.

Khomeini died in 1989 but his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in 2005 that the fatwa still stands.

Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, and Tehran Times