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Jim Muir reports from Tehran
"The Basiji plan to set up a website to publicise their scheme"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 21:12 GMT
Iranians offer kidneys for Rushdie's head

The Satanic Verses burning The Satanic Verses was highly offensive to many Muslims


More than 500 Iranians have pledged to sell one of their kidneys to pay for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie, condemned to death 10 years ago by religious decree.

Islamic militia in the holy Shi'ite city of Mashhad were behind the campaign, which was endorsed by officials in the elite Revolutionary Guards, the hardline Iranian daily Kayhan reports.

A total of 508 people, including six Muslims from countries outside Iran, have signed up to sell a kidney, Kayhan said.

Selling organs is legal in Iran, with transactions overseen by a state organs bank.

The organisers, part of the Basiji volunteer militia force, planned to publicise their campaign on the internet to seek worldwide support.

Late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, condemning Mr Rushdie to death in 1989.

He accused Mr Rushdie, who only recently emerged from hiding, of blasphemy in his novel The Satanic Verses.

Reforms

In a deal aimed at normalising ties with the UK, Iran last year distanced itself from a $2.8m bounty offered by an Iranian Islamic foundation to execute Khomeini's decree.

In July, the first British ambassador since the Iranian revolution of 1979 took up residence in Tehran.

President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government has tried to bury the issue, as part of efforts to improve links with Western countries.

Mr Rushdie said last month he was putting his troubles with Iran behind him and had dropped plans to write an account of his decade under threat of death.

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See also:
29 Dec 99 |  Media reports
Full text: Kidneys for Rushdie's head
14 Feb 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: Why the Rushdie affair continues
18 Oct 98 |  Middle East
Village offers carpets for Rushdie's death
18 Jul 99 |  Middle East
British envoy takes up Iran posting
12 Oct 98 |  Middle East
Rushdie death bounty raised
23 Sep 98 |  Middle East
Fatwa cannot be revoked
14 Jul 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: Khatami at the crossroads

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