ANGLO-IRANIAN ACCORD ON RUSHDIE IS A VICTORY FOR MUSLIMS, IRAN SAYS

PARIS 27TH SEPT. (IPS) The Islamic Republic of Iran hailed Saturday its agreement with Britain to "close definitively' the Rushdie case as a "victory for its diplomacy as well as for the Iranian and the world's Muslims".

In an authorised commentary that reflects the official point of view of the regime, Tehran Radio said as a result of the sustained Iranian diplomacy, Britain ended to recognise the essential role Islam plays in the life of Iranians and distanced itself from the book "The Satanic Verses" that has harmed deeply Muslims in Iran and in the world".

The commentary by the state-run Radio that is directly under the control of the leader of the regime, the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i is a manifest prove that he had authorised the president ayatollah Mohammad Khatami to "dissociate" the government from both the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny's contract on the life of Mr. Salman Rushdie and the 2,5 millions US Dollars reward offered to anyone who kills the Anglo-Indian author of "The Satanic Verses".

In a statement read Thursday at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York, Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian Foreign Minister said "the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention, nor is it going to take any action whatsoever to threaten the life of the author of "The Satanic Verses" or anybody associated with his work, nor will it encourage or assist anybody to do so".

Concerning the prize set by the 15 Khordad Foundation that like all other similar organisations is under the control of Mr Khameneh'i, the Foreign Minister said that the government "dissociates itself from any reward that has been offered in this regard and does not support it".

Considering that "The Satanic Verses" blasphemes both Islam and its prophet Mohammad, the grand ayatollah Khomeiny issued ten years ago a fatwa, or a religious decree making the assassination of Mr Rushdie a mandatory religious duty for the Muslims.

"The facts that in its statement the British government recognises both the importance of Islam in the life of Muslims in Iran and elsewhere in the world in the one hand and distances itself from the content of the blasphemous book on the other also carries this important guarantee that such mistakes will never be repeated in the future", the radio pointed out in a clear reversing of the Iranian and British positions.

But as the official Iranian radio was presenting the government's stand on the 10 years-old thorny issue that prevented the full normalisation of relations between Tehran and London in particular and with the European Union in general, radical newspapers close to the leader and the ruling conservative clerics criticised the Foreign Affairs Ministry's handling of the issue, observing that "no one can change the fatwa nor the bounty".

In an editorial that described Britain as "the father of the great Satan", the newspaper "Jomhouri Eslami" (Islamic Republic) that reflects the views of the ayatollah Khameneh'i said in reference to the Iranian statement that the government "can not" step back from the "necessity" of killing Rushdie as that is the "official position of the Islamic Republic".

"The Foreign Affairs Minister must make it clear whether he had expressed his personal views or that of the government in the one hand and on the other make public all the details about the agreement reached with Britain", the paper demanded, adding that "as well as the prize (for the would be killer) is concerned, no one can oppose it as that had been approved by the imam Khomeiny himself".

Answering Mr Rushdie's first reaction and his refusal to offer apology, the same paper added, "this apostate should remember that nothing except execution or a slow death in hiding is awaiting him".

And without giving any reason, Jomhouri Eslami also called on the Foreign Ministry to not accept that Mr. Nick Brown, the present British charge d'affaires to become the possible future ambassador.

Going even further, the fundamentalist daily "Resalat", considered as the mouthpiece of the influential pressure group known as the "League of Islamic Coalition" that extends its control on the ruling conservatives, including the very person of the ayatollah Khameneh'i wrote that one way or another, one day or another, sooner or latter, Mr. Rushdie and "all the others associated with him" will be put to death.

"Satisfaction expressed by the apostate Rushdie is utterly void of significance for, while at the time of the issuance of the fatwa only a handful of publishers and translators were also sentenced to death, today, all publishers of "The Satanic Verses" fall under the verdict", the paper warned. ENDS 3 RUSHDIE 2799801