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Sunday, October 18, 1998 Published at 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK

World: Middle East

Village offers carpets for Rushdie's death

Mr Rushdie: Out of hiding, but keeping his bodyguards

Residents of a village in Iran are promising farmland and carpets to anyone who kills Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie, a Tehran newspaper has reported.

The offer from Kiyapay village also includes a house and fruit gardens, according to the hardline daily newspaper Kayhan.

It comes after an Islamic foundation reportedly raised its reward for Mr Rushdie's death to $2.8m.

A Kiyapay village official told the paper: "The residents will give 4,500 square metres of farmland, 1,500 square metres of fruit gardens, a house and 10 carpets, as a reward for carrying out the execution sentence against the author of the blasphemous book The Satanic Verses."

He said villagers had also opened a bank account to gather donations by the 2,000 members of their community near the Caspian coast.

The late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa or religious decree in 1989, shortly before his death, declaring Muslims had a duty to kill Mr Rushdie for alleged blasphemy in his novel.

Britain and Iran upgraded diplomatic relations last month after Tehran dissociated itself from the fatwa and the $2.5m bounty offered by the 15th Khordad foundation.

Last week an Iranian newspaper said the bounty had been increased by $300,000.

A hardline student group was also reported to have offered $333,000 to anyone who carried out the fatwa.

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