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Iran Threatens Book Fair Boycott Over Rushdie

Salman Rushdie poses with his 1988 book "The Satanic Verses"

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

Rushdie, a British citizen who lives in the United States, had a fatwa 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."

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

"In the coming days, we will try to convince the leaders of the fair to change their mind [regarding Rushdie's presence]. We will seriously consider not participating [if he is still invited]," Salehi said of the October 14-18.

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 AFP and Tehran Times