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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Refuses to Lift 'Fatwa' on Rushdie

PARIS -- Iran refused Thursday to withdraw a death sentence against British writer Salman Rushdie and failed to promise it would take no action against him on European Union soil as the EU had requested, Iranian officials said.


Iran's visiting deputy foreign minister, Mahmoud Vaezi, failed to provide a written commitment not to act on the "fatwa,'' or religious edict, delivered in 1989, condemning Rushdie to death.


There had been recent reports that Iran would provide such a statement during Vaezi's meeting in Paris with a delegation of EU representatives from France, Germany and Spain.


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who has since died, delivered the death order in response to Rushdie's book, "The Satanic Verses," for allegedly blaspheming Islam. Rushdie has been forced to live in hiding for the past six years.


The French Foreign Ministry confirmed that Iran communicated its response to the EU demand, but refused to divulge the contents. The ministry said it was now up to European foreign ministers to respond to the question.


An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Morteza Sarmadi, said in Tehran that the Paris talks were not aimed at replying to the EU's demands concerning Rushdie, although it was likely the issue would come up.


Sarmadi stressed that, in that case, Iran would insist on its previous stand that the "fatwa'' cannot be rescinded and on its commitment to respect international regulations.


The 15-nation European Union formally asked Iran on April 19 to make a commitment not to carry out the death sentence on EU soil.


Thursday's talks came just four days after the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations meeting in Halifax, including France and Germany, asked Iran to stop supporting terrorist movements and exhorted nations not to help Iran develop nuclear capabilities.