Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Friday, October 16, 1998 Published at 22:47 GMT 23:47 UK


UK

Rushdie meeting amid calls for death

Salman Rushdie: Requested meeting after new threats

Salman Rushdie has held a meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, amid renewed calls in Iran for his death.

Three weeks ago, the UK and Iran agreed to re-establish full diplomatic relations after the Iranian Government promised to do nothing to harm the author.

This was despite the religious edict pronounced by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, which called for Mr Rushdie's death because of what it said was blasphemy in his novel The Satanic Verses.

But the bounty on the novelist's head has since been raised, and Friday saw a noisy demonstration in Tehran demanding that he should be killed.


[ image: Robin Cook is saying nothing]
Robin Cook is saying nothing
These developments have revived fears about Mr Rushdie's security and the writer himself requested Friday's meeting with Mr Cook.

There was no comment from either side afterwards.

The BBC's Diplomatic Correspondent, Barnaby Mason, says the Foreign Office is saying as little as possible and is hoping Mr Rushdie will do the same.

He says officials privately regard Mr Rushdie to have been unwise when he said that he did not regret writing The Satanic Verses, the book which led to the fatwa being issued.

'Rushdie must die'

Hours before the meeting took place, militants staged a noisy demonstration after Friday prayers in Tehran calling for the fatwa to be carried out.

Demonstrators chanted "Rushdie must die" as one speaker warned the Iranian Government there would be problems if it tried to interfere with the fatwa.

He said there could be no turning back from the late Ayatollah's edict.

After the rally, the militants unveiled a huge wall portrait of Mustafa Mazeh, who was killed by a bomb explosion in London in 1989, which Iranians believe was intended for Mr Rushdie.


[ image: President Khatami: Hardline backlash before election]
President Khatami: Hardline backlash before election
The moderate President Khatami's government appears to have failed in its attempt to to cool the situation.

Many also blame Mr Rushdie's lack of conciliation, and the timing of important nationwide elections in Iran next week.

Hardliners have used the agreement as a stick with which to beat the moderates in the run-up to the poll.

The pressure also appears to have prompted Iran's foreign minister to say there had been no change in Tehran's stand on the affair.

Meanwhile, a religious foundation has increased the bounty it is offering for killing the author. A hardline student group added more cash, bringing the total to £1.6m.

A Foreign Office spokesman said before the meeting between Mr Cook and the novelist that the UK believed that last month's deal still stands.

Preparations to exchange ambassadors were continuing, but he added that London has asked Tehran for clarification over recent developments.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

12 Oct 98†|†From Our Own Correspondent
Iran: The battleground of old and new

10 Oct 98†|†UK
New bounty on Rushdie's head

25 Sep 98†|†UK
Rushdie delighted to be 'free'





Internet Links


Foreign Office

Notes on The Satanic Verses

Rushdie - Satanic Fiction (an Islamic view on The Satanic Verses)


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online