June 22, 2007, RFE/RL -- A prominent Iranian cleric says the death sentence issued by Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei against British author Salman Rushdie is "still alive."
Ahmad Khatami's comments in Friday prayers are the latest angry reaction to Britain's decision June 16 to award a knighthood to Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" prompted anger in the Muslim world.
In 1989, the late Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa death sentence against Rushdie for blasphemy.
"In the Islamic Iran that revolutionary fatwa of Imam [Khomeini] is still alive and cannot be changed," Khatami told worshippers in Tehran.
In 1998, the Iranian government distanced itself from the death warrant but hardliners have always maintained it remained in effect.
Officials in Iraq and Pakistan have also criticized the title for Rushdie.
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