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Reward, fear in Iran after Rushdie assault; authorities quiet

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iranians reacted with reward and fear Saturday over the assault on novelist Salman Rushdie, the goal of a decades-old fatwa by the late Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for his dying.

It stays unclear why Rushdie’s attacker, recognized by police as Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, stabbed the creator as he ready to talk at an occasion Friday in western New York. Iran’s theocratic authorities and its state-run media have assigned no motive to the assault.

However in Tehran, some prepared to talk to The Related Press supplied reward for an assault focusing on a author they imagine tarnished the Islamic religion together with his 1988 guide “The Satanic Verses.” Within the streets of Iran’s capital, pictures of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini nonetheless peer down at passers-by.

“I don’t know Salman Rushdie, however I’m blissful to listen to that he was attacked since he insulted Islam,” mentioned Reza Amiri, a 27-year-old deliveryman. “That is the destiny for anyone who insults sanctities.”

Others, nonetheless, fearful aloud that Iran might grow to be much more reduce off from the world as tensions stay excessive over its tattered nuclear deal.

“I really feel those that did it try to isolate Iran,” mentioned Mahshid Barati, a 39-year-old geography trainer. “It will negatively have an effect on relations with many — even Russia and China.”

Khomeini, sick within the final yr of his life after the grinding, stalemate Nineteen Eighties Iran-Iraq battle decimated the nation’s economic system, issued the fatwa on Rushdie in 1989. The Islamic edict got here amid a violent uproar within the Muslim world over the novel, which some seen as blasphemously making options concerning the Prophet Muhammad’s life.

“I wish to inform all of the intrepid Muslims on the planet that the creator of the guide entitled ‘Satanic Verses’ … in addition to these publishers who have been conscious of its contents, are hereby sentenced to dying,” Khomeini mentioned in February 1989, based on Tehran Radio.

He added: “Whoever is killed doing this might be thought to be a martyr and can go on to heaven.”

Early on Saturday, Iranian state media made a degree to notice one man recognized as being killed whereas making an attempt to hold out the fatwa. Lebanese nationwide Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh died when a guide bomb he had prematurely exploded in a London lodge on Aug. 3, 1989, simply over 33 years in the past.

At newstands Saturday, front-page headlines supplied their very own takes on the assault. The hard-line Vatan-e Emrouz’s important story coated what it described as: “A knife within the neck of Salman Rushdie.” The reformist newspaper Etemad’s headline requested: “Salman Rushdie in neighborhood of dying?”

However the fifteenth Khordad Basis — which put the over $3 million bounty on Rushdie — remained quiet firstly of the working week. Staffers there declined to right away remark to the AP, referring inquiries to an official not within the workplace.

The inspiration, whose identify refers back to the 1963 protests towards Iran’s former shah by Khomeini’s supporters, usually focuses on offering assist to the disabled and others affected by battle. Nevertheless it, like different foundations often known as “bonyads” in Iran funded partly by confiscated belongings from the shah’s time, usually serve the political pursuits of the nation’s hard-liners.

Reformists in Iran, those that wish to slowly liberalize the nation’s Shiite theocracy from inside and have higher relations with the West, have sought to distance the nation’s authorities from the edict. Notably, reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s international minister in 1998 mentioned that the “authorities disassociates itself from any reward which has been supplied on this regard and doesn’t help it.”

Rushdie slowly started to re-emerge into public life round that point. However some in Iran have by no means forgotten the fatwa towards him.

On Saturday, Mohammad Mahdi Movaghar, a 34-year-old Tehran resident, described having a “good feeling” after seeing Rushdie attacked.

“That is pleasing and reveals those that insult the sacred issues of we Muslims, along with punishment within the hereafter, will get punished on this world too by the hands of individuals,” he mentioned.

Others, nonetheless, fearful the assault — no matter why it was carried out — might harm Iran because it tries to barter over its nuclear take care of world powers.

Since then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, Tehran has seen its rial foreign money plummet and its economic system crater. In the meantime, Tehran enriches uranium now nearer than ever to weapons-grade ranges amid a sequence of assaults throughout the Mideast.

“It can make Iran extra remoted,” warned former Iranian diplomat Mashallah Sefatzadeh.

Whereas fatwas will be revised or revoked, Iran’s present Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who took over after Khomeini has by no means carried out so.

“The choice made about Salman Rushdie continues to be legitimate,” Khamenei mentioned in 1989. “As I’ve already mentioned, it is a bullet for which there’s a goal. It has been shot. It can someday in the end hit the goal.”

As just lately as February 2017, Khamenei tersely answered this query posed to him: “Is the fatwa on the apostasy of the cursed liar Salman Rushdie nonetheless in impact? What’s a Muslim’s obligation on this regard?”

Khamenei responded: “The decree is as Imam Khomeini issued.”

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Related Press journalist Mehdi Fattahi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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