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A FATWA against the author Salman Rushdie was reaffirmed by Iran’s spiritual leader last night in a message to Muslim pilgrims.
British officials anxiously played down comments after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Muslims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Rushdie was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam, according to the Iranian media.
However, senior British officials swiftly made plain last night that the Iranian Government, which had disassociated itself from the fatwa in 1998, had not changed its position.They pointed out that because the fatwa was issued in February 1989 by Iran’s revolutionary founder and Khamenei’s predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, who had since died, it would always remain in existence.