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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 June 2007, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Iran condemns Rushdie knighthood
Sir Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman went into hiding under threat of death
Iran has criticised the British government for its decision to give a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie.

His book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and led to Iran issuing a fatwa in 1989, ordering Sir Salman's execution.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the decision to praise the "apostate" showed Islamophobia among British officials.

The UK Foreign Office said Sir Salman's honour was "richly deserved".

'Detested figure'

Mr Hosseini told a press conference: "Giving a medal to someone who is among the most detested figures in the Islamic community is... a blatant example of the anti-Islamism of senior British officials.

The religious bigots really need to get over the Satanic Verses
Paul Gardner, UK

"The measure that has taken place for paying tribute to this apostate and detested figure will definitely put British statesmen and officials at odds with Islamic societies, the emotions and sentiments of which have again been provoked."

He added that the knighthood showed that the process of insulting Islamic sanctities was not accidental but was being supported by some Western countries.

Sir Salman, 59, was one of almost 950 people to appear on the Queen's Birthday Honours list, which was announced on Saturday.

All are nominated by the public or expert organisations.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined to comment on the Iranian spokesman's remarks, saying Sir Salman's honour had been deserved and the reasons for it were self-explanatory.

Fantasy and farce

The Indian-born author's fourth book - The Satanic Verses in 1988 - describes a cosmic battle between good and evil and combines fantasy, philosophy and farce.

It was immediately condemned by the Islamic world because of its perceived blasphemous depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

It was banned in many countries with large Muslim communities and in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's spiritual leader, issued a fatwa.

In 1998, the Iranian government said it would no longer support the fatwa, but some groups have said it is irrevocable.

The following year, Sir Salman returned to public life.

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