A high-level Iranian cleric said Friday that the religious edict calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie cannot be revoked, and he warned Britain was defying the Islamic world by granting the author knighthood.The continued existence of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie is more than just a threat against one man and his publisher; it is a threat against a fundamental tenant our civilization, which is that each individual is free to express himself and his ideas without fear of threats or physical coercion. That Iran's clerics continue to attack the very cornerstone of our civilization reveals yet again that Iran itself continues to be uncivilized. No one had the right to coercively edit Salman Rushdie or any citizen of the West. No government cleric had the right to call for any free man's murder.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reminded worshippers of the 1989 fatwa during a sermon at Tehran University, aired live on state radio. Thousands of worshippers chanted "Death to the English."
Khatami does not hold a government position but has the influential post of delivering the sermon during Friday prayers once a month in the Iranian capital. He did not directly call for the fatwa to be carried out.
"Awarding him means confronting 1.5 billion Muslims around the world," Khatami said. "In Islamic Iran, the revolutionary fatwa ... is still alive and cannot be changed."
Then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued the fatwa in 1989, calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie because his book "The Satanic Verses" was deemed insulting to Islam. Rushdie was forced into hiding for a decade, and the edict deeply damaged Britain's relations with Iran. In 1998, the Iranian government sought to patch up ties by declaring that it would not support the fatwa but that it could not be rescinded.
Queen Elizabeth II's decision to knight Rushdie drew a complaint from the Iranian government and protests around the Muslim world.
Rather than continue to sit idly by while Iran's clerics boast of their savage edict, it's high time that the West respond in kind. At bare minimum, if a jihadist issues a fatwa threatening the life and freedom of a citizen of the West, that jihadist must die.
I think a few 1,000 lb bombs would do the work nicely.