27 years later, the Nobel academy condemns the fatwa against Salman Rushdie
Berlin, Mar 25 (EFE) — The institution that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature has condemned the fatwa against the British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie for his novel "The Satanic Verses," issued by Iran 27 years ago by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In a statement released by the institution, the Swedish Academy mentions the recent announcement by Iranian media of a new reward of 537,000 euros (almost $599,700) to whoever kills the author.
The death sentence and the offer of a bounty are "flagrant breaches of international law," said the institution in a statement.
The death sentence as a punishment to literary work is also a serious violation of freedom of opinion, continues the statement. Following the release of "The Satanic Verses" in 1988, Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on Muslims worldwide to kill Rushdie for blasphemy.
At that time, the Nobel Academy did not comment on the case, which led to the withdrawal of two of the 18 lifetime members of the institution.
The Khomeini fatwa specifically mentioned all those who had participated in the publication and dissemination of the work.
The translator of the novel into Japanese, Hitoshi Igarashi, was killed in 1991, while Italian translator, Ettore Caprioli, and Norwegian publisher William Nygaard, survived two separate attacks.
Here's the full statement issued by the Academy:
Recently, only weeks after the beginning of a normalisation process between Iran and the Western world, the tone again escalated. Forty state-run media outlets grouped together to increase the bounty by an additional USD 600,000. The death sentence and the reward money are flagrant breaches of international law and rules of civilised interaction within the world community and therefore can in no way be compatible with normalisation.
The fact that the death sentence has been passed as punishment for a work of literature also implies a serious violation of free speech. The principle of the independence of literature from political control is of fundamental importance for civilisation and must be defended against attacks by avengers and the adherents of censorship.
The Swedish Academy decries the retention of the death sentence for Salman Rushdie and that state-controlled media are permitted to encourage violence directed at a writer.