Khomeini's Aggression, Cont'd

August 02, 1991

The incitation to murder by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (reiterated by his successor as spiritual leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) continues to violate the sovereignty of other countries. Not only did they command, on religious principles, the murder of the Indian-born British Muslim apostate author, Salman Rushdie, but also of anyone responsible for publication of his novel, "The Satanic Verses," in 1989.

Mr. Rushdie is still in hiding, not trusting to his public reaffirmation of faith in Islam for protection. In Tokyo, Prof. Hitoshi Igarashi, translator of the book into Japanese, was found stabbed to death. This came two weeks after the work's Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was stabbed in Milan. He survived.

Muslims and others have a right to be offended by Rushdie's work. They have a right to denounce, ridicule or excoriate him. No one has a right to harm him physically. Above all, no one in Iran has a right to say who may live and who must die in Britain, Japan or Italy.

The admonition to murder was a fatwa, or religious decree, which the civil authorities of Iran do not dare to contradict. But as long as it is unrepudiated, Iran is claiming a right to execute the nationals of other countries on their own soil.

So long as that is the case, the government of President Hashemi Rafsanjani cannot credibly claim moderation, a willingness to accommodate other nations or to live within the norms of the international community.

The Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rafsanjani have a sovereign power to punish blasphemy and deny freedom of expression in Iran. When they try to extend that power to Britain, Japan and Italy, they are committing crimes or war against those sovereign countries.

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