Salman Rushdie—Satanic Verses Page
Selected by Rakesh Rampertab

Khomeini Urges Muslims to Kill Rushdie

Teheran Qualifies Threat to Author
Rushdie Novel Brings Bomb Threats
12 Die in Bombay in Anti-Rushdie Riot
Muslims Warned in Britain
Japanese Translator of Rushdie Book Found Slain
Iran Drops Death Threat


Salman Rushdie: Fiction's Embattled Infidel-Gerald Marzorati
Telling Truth Through Fantasy: Rushdie's Magic Realism-Michiko Kakutani
Demonizing Discourse in Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses

What about Rushdie-Paul Thoreaux


Please see important website on the Satanic Verses with extensive notes very helpful in reading and understanding the complex text. See


Khomeini Urges Muslims to Kill Author of Novel
ONDON, Feb. 14 -- Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran declared today that the author and publishers of a novel deemed offensive to Islam had been ''sentenced to death.'' The novelist, Salman Rushdie, author of ''The Satanic Verses,'' said he was taking the threat seriously.

The Teheran radio quoted Ayatollah Khomeini as asking ''all the Muslims to execute them,'' referring to Mr. Rushdie, who lives in London, and the publishers of the book, Viking Penguin, ''wherever they find them.'' He said that anyone killed carrying out his order would be considered a martyr.

Mr. Rushdie's American agent said there were no plans to call off the author's American promotional tour. All was quiet at Viking Penguin's offices in New York, but a guard there said security was tight.

Threat Taken 'Very Seriously'

Wednesday was declared a day of mourning in Iran to protest the novel. It has prompted violent protests by Islamic fundamentalists over the author's projection of Islamic myths and Koranic motifs in contemporary and futuristic settings, which many contend is blasphemous.

''The author of the 'Satanic Verses' book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death,'' said Ayatollah Khomeini, whose word is considered law by millions of Shiite Muslims. ''If someone knows them but is unable to kill them, he should hand them over to the people for punishment.''

Mr. Rushdie, who is 41 years old and was born into a Kashmiri Muslim family in Bombay, could not be reached by The New York Times for comment today. But he was quoted as telling the British Broadcasting Corporation that he had to take the threat ''very seriously indeed'' and that he ''may well have to think about'' applying to the authorities for protection.

''I am very sad it should have happened,'' Mr. Rushdie was quoted by the Press Association, Britain's domestic news agency, as saying. ''It is not true this book is a blasphemy against Islam. I doubt very much Khomeini or anyone else in Iran has read the book or anything more than selected extracts taken out of context.''

Britain's Foreign Office said today that clarification was being sought over Ayatollah Khomeini's remarks, which, ''if true, are a cause for concern.'' [ A leader of the British Muslims, quoted by Reuters, added grave concern to the security situation late tonight by reinforcing Ayatollah Khomeini's call for Mr. Rushdie's execution. Said Abdul Quddas, joint secretary of the Council of Mosques in the northern English city of Bradford, told reporters, ''Every good Muslim is after his life. He has tortured Islam and has to pay the penalty. He deserves hanging. [ ''There are any number of people who would willingly carry out what to us would not be a crime but a justified act.'' ] A spokesman for Scotland Yard declined to comment on the threat. However, British newspapers said the Special Branch of Scotland Yard was protecting Mr. Rushdie, adding that a team of armed officers was probably assigned to accompany the author. Special Branch officers will also increase surveillance on Muslim fundamentalist groups in London and throughout Britain, the agency said.

The Khomeini statement came amid a wave of protests and attempts to ban the book. On Sunday, a mob of thousands of enraged Muslims tried to enter and destroy the American cultural center in Islamabad, Pakistan, because Mr. Rushdie's book is being published in the United States. The attack left five people dead and more than 100 people wounded; three people died in similar disturbances in India on Monday.

Muslims in Britain burned copies of the book last month and W. H. Smith booksellers withdrew it from public display in Bradford, a city in the north that has a large Moslem community.

The Press Association quoted Mr. Rushdie's literary agent in Britain, Gillon Aitken, as saying that the author had been ''out and about,'' in response to a question about whether he was in hiding today.

''I assume he has been getting on with his life,'' Mr. Aitken said.

''The Satanic Verses'' begins with a plane crash over the English Channel in which two men survive to be ''born again,'' one with a halo, the other with slowly developing horns and hoofs. It is not clear, despite their appearance, which of them is good and which is evil. They become involved with characters named Alleluia Cone and Mahound, the latter a businessman turned prophet who lives in the imaginary city of Jahilla.

'A Dirty Conspiracy'

Mr. Rushdie's character the Prophet Mahound resembles the portrayal of Jesus Christ in Martin Scorsese's film ''The Last Temptation of Christ,'' in that Mahound is depicted as having a human nature and wrestling with temptation. The work is clearly perceived as offensive to Islam, but what exactly is regarded as insulting has not been spelled out.

The Iranian Government condemned the book as ''a dirty conspiracy'' against Islam and urged followers of Ayatollah Khomeini around the world to take action against it. A Government statement read on the Teheran radio called for cells of the Party of God -devotees of the Ayatollah and a group of them in Lebanon is believed to be holding Westerners who are missing and believed kidnapped there - to take ''necessary steps to neutralize this plot.''

''We call on all Party of God cells in the world of Islam to grasp the depth of this black conspiracy,'' the statement said. ''We advise all Islamic Governments not to place themselves against the million masses of angry Muslims but to demonstrate their disgust and anger, together with their nation, towards this provocative American deed.''

The Iranian press agency quoted Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moussavi as calling Mr. Rushdie an ''American mercenary.''
Mr. Rushdie was quoted as telling Independent Television News here that he doubted that those conducting a campaign against the book were trying to act as ''thought police.''

{Credit: New York Times, February 15, 1989.]

Teheran Qualifies Threat to Author
ran's President indicated today that a death threat against the novelist Salman Rushdie might be withdrawn if he apologized for insulting Islam and Muslims.

The President, Hojatolislam Ali Khamenei, said that although Mr. Rushdie had made insulting allusions to the Prophet Mohammed, ''it is possible the people may pardon him'' if he admitted that his book was a ''blunder.''

Although he strongly defended Iran's actions and its threat against Mr. Rushdie over the author's novel ''The Satanic Verses,'' he seemed to indicate that Iran did not want the issue to grow more heated. He warned against storming embassies to protest the book.

Thousands of Iranians demonstrated outside the British Embassy in Teheran on Wednesday to denounce Mr. Rushdie, who was born a Muslim in Bombay and is a British citizen.

The demonstration came a day after the Iranian revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, called on ''all brave Muslims'' to kill Mr. Rushdie ''wherever they find him,'' and to kill the publishers of his book.

No new violence over the book was reported in Iran today, but news agencies said at least 50 people were injured in clashes in Srinagar, India, after 1,500 Muslims took to the streets to denounce the book. Peaceful demonstrations were reported in Pakistan.

Mr. Rushdie, who lives in London, has reportedly gone into hiding under police protection.

The Iranian President's comments today were made during his weekly prayer address and reported by the official Iranian press agency.

In unusually strong words, President Khamenei warned that any attempt to storm the British Embassy would be ''absolutely, absolutely harmful for Islam and Muslims and detrimental for the Islamic Republic.'' 'Don't Go Near the Embassies'

He went on to say: ''I will issue the order right now as a Government official, as a Friday prayer leader and as a Muslim scholar: Don't go near the embassies. If you don't like British or American policies, the way to express grievances is not like some who go over embassy walls in an uncontrolled manner.'' Hojatolislam Khamenei added that anyone contravening those orders would be considered a traitor.

Experts on Iran said there was little doubt that the President's remarks reflected concern in the Iranian leadership that the negative international reaction to the threats against Mr. Rushdie could provoke economic and military sanctions against Iran like those imposed on it in the last few years of its war with Iraq.

Some Iranian officials, who asked not to be identified, also noted that Hojatolislam Khamenei's stern prohibition against violence reflected fear that radical elements might use the episode to undo efforts to soften Iran's image as a militant revolutionary nation.

The President charged that Mr. Rushdie, whom he described as ''this wretched man,'' carries the blame for much of what happened because he sought a confrontation with ''a billion Muslims and with the Imam,'' the reverential term used for Ayatollah Khomeini as the leader of the faithful.

But Hojatolislam Khamenei added: ''Of course, he may repent and say 'I made a blunder' and apologize to Muslims and the Imam. Then it is possible that the people may pardon him.''

Although the President criticized Britain for allowing a British citizen ''to make such a blunder,'' he seemed to leave room for further discussion. ''Britain is acting as if it was ignorant or maybe it really is,'' he said. Cries of 'Death to Britain'

The President's address, which was broadcast nationally, was interrupted by cries of ''Death to Britain!'' from the audience and preceded by demonstrations by university and high school students protesting the book.

Britain appears to be acting cautiously in the affair, saying it will retain its diplomatic staff in Teheran but freeze the improvement of relations that it had been pursuing with Iran. Britain's Foreign Office said it received assurances from Iran that the embassy and its staff would be protected ''and we expect them to keep to that undertaking.''

A spokesman was quoted by The Associated Press in London as saying, ''The publication of books in this country has absolutely nothing to do with the British Government, and the Iranians should realize this.''
[ Credit: New York Times, February 18, 1989.]

Rushdie Novel Brings Bomb Threats
everal anonymous bomb threats by telephone have been directed against the New York publisher of Salman Rushdie's new novel, ''The Satanic Verses,'' and thousands of threatening letters have been sent to the publishing house. The book, which has been banned in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt and other countries with many Muslims, is regarded as blasphemous by fundamentalist Muslim groups.

Viking Penguin, Mr. Rushdie's publisher, has been distributing the novel to bookstores around the country before its Feb. 22 publication date. The book has a first printing of 50,000 copies and is an alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.

Mr. Rushdie, who was born in Bombay and now lives in London, where he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, plans to visit the United States for readings, which begin Feb. 20 at the Manhattan Theater Club at City Center. Threatening Calls on 3 Occasions

Viking Penguin offices in Manhattan received three bomb threats in anonymous telephone calls last month from a ''male with a Middle Eastern accent who identified himself as being with the Islamic Nation,'' said Police Officer Joseph Gallagher, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department. Detectives from the 13th Precinct have been assigned to investigate what Officer Gallagher said was so far ''a matter of harassment.''

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the source of the anonymous calls. Joseph Valiquette, an F.B.I. spokesman in the New York office, said, ''The F.B.I. has been made aware of the bomb threats and is actively investigating them.''

The threats on the building that houses the publishing company came on Dec. 14, 21 and 22. On Jan. 6, another threatening call was made to a company executive. The building was evacuated twice and searched, but the police found nothing and employees returned to their jobs. Letter-Writing Campaign

Martin Garbus, a lawyer whose firm represents Viking Penguin, said he had reported a mail campaign against the book to the police in Queens, and Detroit, Chicago and Houston. He said thousands of threatening form letters prepared and distributed by Muslim groups in those areas had been sent to the publishing house.

Mr. Garbus said he considered the actions against the book a violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act.

In a telephone interview from his home in London, Mr. Rushdie described his book as partly ''a comic novel'' that deals with serious issues of ''cultural and spiritual dislocation.'' He said that in the novel he created ''opposed combinations - between high comedy and high tragedy, between Eastern and Western culture, between the citizens of London and Bombay.''

''In this sense,'' he added, ''it is the most personal novel I have ever written.'' Banned in India

Mr. Rushdie, who received the Booker Prize, Britain's most important literary award, for his 1981 novel, ''Midnight's Children,'' said he was aware of the campaign against his book but did not know who had made the threats in the United States. He said the American campaign followed the pattern in Britain and elsewhere before the book appeared, when opposition was led by Muslim fundamentalists.

''The Satanic Verses'' was banned in India on Oct. 5 after protests from Muslims who said it offended their religion and its prophet, Mohammed. The banning order also extended to the importation or sale of the book in India.

''It is not only my book that has been the subject of attack,'' Mr. Rushdie said. ''A novel by Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt, the 1988 Nobel Prize laureate in literature, has also been banned in the Muslim countries even though it is an allegory.'' He pointed out that some Muslim authors had gone into exile because their writings were banned in their own countries. 'God Sent the Koran'

''There is a kind of conflict in Islam between the sacred text - the Koran itself - and the profane text, such as verse,'' the author said. ''The Koran itself mentions poets critically. There is now a powerful campaign against intellectuals and literature throughout the Islamic world. What the religious fundamentalists are saying in effect is: 'God sent the Koran. Full stop. End of discussion.' ''

Mr. Rushdie, who studied Islamic history at Cambridge University, said Mohammed considered himself not a god to be worshiped but a messenger. ''Any suggestion that the prophet might have been tempted by human qualities,'' he said, ''is considered blasphemy.''

The author and Viking Penguin emphasized that ''The Satanic Verses'' was a work of fiction. Mr. Rushdie said that in one section of his novel there was a fictional prophet with a fictional name ''subject to temptation.'' The incident from which the title of his book is taken is rooted in the early history of Islam. He noted that his novel included ''a dream sequence, a fictional prophet and a fictional country'' - and that he had gone to great lengths to fictionalize this sequence.

''A common characteristic of the people who are fulminating against this book is that they haven't read it,'' Mr. Rushdie said. ''I studied history at Cambridge. The Islamic world would deny itself the techniques of scholarship and the imagination. If I wanted to write a purely religious history, I would not have written a novel.''

[Credit: New York Times, January 14, 1989.]


12 Die in Bombay in Anti-Rushdie Riot
NEW DELHI, Feb. 24 -- At least 12 people were killed and 40 wounded today when the police fired at Muslims rioting in Bombay against Salman Rushdie's novel, ''The Satanic Verses.''

News accounts of the violence in Bombay, Mr. Rushdie's birthplace, said the trouble began when Muslim demonstrators sought to move past police barricades set up to block their march on the British diplomatic mission in the city to protest British protection of the novelist. Mr. Rushdie, a British citizen, is in seclusion in England under police guard. A Three-Hour Battle

According to the Press Trust of India news agency, the police fired at the rioters in Bombay after people in the crowd opened fire on officers. The result was a three-hour battle, with rioters spilling across the crowded streets of South Bombay, burning cars, buses, motorcycles and even torching the small police station.

Reuters quoted a protest leader, Sharafat Khan, as saying organizers were pleading with the police to let a march proceed when the violence broke out. ''It all happened so suddenly,'' he was quoted as saying. ''The crowd surged forward, and the police hit them with clubs. There was stone throwing and then gunfire.''

The news agency said the police had banned the march in anticipation of violence, detaining 500 people and arresting 800 others in the rioting itself.

''The Satanic Verses'' was banned in India soon after it was published last year, and none of the protesters are likely to have read the book, which many Muslims regard as blasphemous. Earlier this month at least 3 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes between the police and the rioters in the northern state of Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority and borders on Pakisan.

In Pakistan, 6 people were killed and 83 wounded when the police opened fire on demonstrators outside an American information center in Islamabad who demanded the banning of the book in the United States.

A leading Muslim figure in New Delhi, Syed Abdullah Bukhari, the chief cleric at the city's largest mosque, has endorsed Iran's condemnation of Mr. Rushdie and the calls for his killing.

The recent tension over Mr. Rushdie's book has aggravated existing sectarian problems, especially in northern India, officials say.
[Credit: New York Times, February 25, 1989.]

Muslims Warned in Britain

LONDON, Feb. 24 (Special to The New York Times) - Home Secretary Douglas Hurd warned Muslims in Britain today that they could seriously damage the country's race relations by supporting death threats or violent protests against Mr. Rushdie.

Speaking at the Central Mosque in Birmingham, Mr. Hurd acknowledged that Muslims were ''grieved and hurt'' by Mr. Rushdie's novel. He said that Muslims had a right to protest against the book but that their opposition must remain within the rule of law.

''The law gives you the freedom to express your protests, peacefully and with dignity,'' Mr. Hurd said in his prepared text, copies of which were made available in London. ''British Muslims are entitled to speak out in defense of their religious faith and to protest about a book which they believe denigrates and insults the Prophet of Islam. But to turn such protests towards violence or the threat of violence is wholly unacceptable.''

In another twist in the controversy, the Speaker of Iran's Parliament, Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani, said today that if any Muslim carried out Ayatollah Khomeini's order to kill Mr. Rushdie, the action should not not be blamed on Iran or its Government.

Mr. Rafsanjani seemed to be trying to distinguish between what he portrayed as a religious obligation that may be carried out by faithful Muslims and official actions of the Iranian Government. The comment appeared to be an attempt not to sever bridges with Western countries.

[Credit: New Yorkl Times, February 25, 1989.]


Japanese Translator of Rushdie Book Found Slain

OKYO, July 12 -- The Japanese translator of "The Satanic Verses," by Salman Rushdie, was found slain today at a university northeast of Tokyo.

The translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, 44 years old, was an assistant professor of comparative culture who reportedly studied in Iran in the 1970's. The police said he was stabbed several times on Thursday night and left in the hallway outside his office at Tsukuba University.

It is the second time this month that someone involved with the production of the novel by Mr. Rushdie, the Indian-born author condemned to death by the Iranian authorities two years ago, has been assaulted. On July 3, Ettore Capriolo, 61, the Italian translator of "The Satanic Verses," was stabbed in his apartment in Milan. He survived the attack with what were described as superficial wounds.

Rushdie Urges Death Order's End

The Milan police have made no arrests and offered no theory on the attacker. But the authorities said without elaboration that the assailant told Mr. Capriolo that he had a "connection" to the Iranian Embassy in Rome. A man reached at the embassy late today said no officials were available for comment.

The police reported that a janitor had found the body of Mr. Igarashi near an elevator on the seventh floor of the building with slash wounds on his neck, face and hands. They said an autopsy showed that he died between 10 P.M. on Thursday and 2 A.M. today.

In addition to translating "The Satanic Verses," Mr. Igarashi wrote books on Islam, including "The Islamic Renaissance" and "Medicine and Wisdom of the East."

Mr. Rushdie went into hiding in 1989 after his novel's publication in Britain brought a call by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran for Muslims to kill the author. Ayatollah Khomeini, who said the book was blasphemous and anti-Islamic, died in June 1989, but the assassination order has been reaffirmed by the Iranian authorities.

In the last year, Mr. Rushdie, a British citizen and Muslim who was born in Bombay, has started to give interviews, make some public appearances and issue statements construed as an apology for his book, saying he never intended to defame Islam.

But the Iranian Government refused to withdraw its assassination order, although it appeared until these recent incidents that the immediate threat to Mr. Rushdie might have subsided with the passage of time.

Reuters reported from London that Mr. Rushdie said in a written statement today, "I am extremely distressed by the news of the murder of Mr. Hitoshi Igarashi and I offer my condolences and deepest sympathy to his family." He appealed to the British, Italian and Japanese Governments and other world leaders "to make urgent representations to the Government of Iran" to have the death order set aside.

Outcry Against the Novel

No person or group in Japan asserted responsibility for the killing of Mr. Igarashi, which came to light late this afternoon, and the police said they had no specific evidence that it was carried out because of the novel.

But news organizations reported that the publisher of the novel had received death threats from Islamic militants and that Mr. Igarashi had for a time been given bodyguards. Family members of Mr. Igarashi said on television tonight that he had not received any death threats that they knew of.

It did not appear that Mr. Igarashi had any security guards at the time of his death. The police said he seemed to have been killed after some students left him about 7 P.M. on Thursday, and that perhaps the incident occurred as he was heading out the door of his office at Tsukuba University, about 40 miles northeast of Tokyo.

In 1989, the Islamic Center in Japan requested publishers, newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations not to translate or reproduce the novel, which it called an "anti-Islamic" work that "contains filthy remarks and ridicules fundamental beliefs of Islam."

'We Cannot Forgive the Novel'

There are few native Japanese Muslims, but there is a large community of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and others who worship at the Islamic Center in the Akasaka district of Tokyo. News reports said the center had about 30,000 members.

Last year as well, a leader of a Japanese association of Pakistanis joined the condemnations of Mr. Rushdie, saying he deserved to die because of the book.

"We cannot forgive the novel because it is insulting our prophet indecently and making God's words Devil's words," the spokesman said at the time.

Nevertheless, the publisher, Shinseisha, a medium-sized house, went ahead, drawing demonstrators outside its offices in 1990. At a news conference in early 1990, a Pakistani was arrested after disrupting the scene and trying to assault a promoter of the book.

A Success but Not a Best Seller

Japanese news organizations reported that "The Satanic Verses" had sold about 60,000 or 70,000 copies in Japan, making it a success but not a best seller by Japanese standards. Despite the threats to the publishers, the Japan Book Publishing Association said in 1990 that it supported the publishers and promoters of the book, saying, "We will make as much cooperation as possible with those organizations on this issue as we obey the basic legal rules."

But some bookstores were more cautious, hesitating to sell the novel or at least to display it. A spokesman for Maruzen books, a leading bookstore chain, told The Japan Times in 1990 that "it is difficult for us to put the book on counters because of possible confusions."

[Credit: New York Times, July 13, 1991.]

Iran Drops Rushdie Death Threat, And Britain Renews Teheran Ties
U NITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 -- The Iranian Foreign Minister publicly divorced his Government today from the death threat imposed on the British author Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Britain responded by restoring full diplomatic relations.

''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,'' the Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, said in a statement that he read to reporters today.

Mr. Kharrazi's remarks followed comments made in New York on Tuesday by Iran's President, Mohammad Khatami, who told reporters that the Rushdie affair was ''completely finished.''

Standing next to Mr. Kharrazi, the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said he was ''delighted'' to hear Iran's position clarified and to know that the reward offered to anyone willing to kill Mr. Rushdie had been officially renounced.

Although an Iranian foundation continues to offer a $2.5 million bounty for the death of the 51-year-old Indian-born British author, whose novel Mr. Kharrazi said still offended the Iranians, the Foreign Minister said his Government ''dissociates itself from any reward that has been offered in this regard and does not support it.''

A somewhat stunned Mr. Rushdie, interviewed by telephone in London, said tonight, ''It's over.''

''Until I went into the meeting with the British Government I wasn't sure,'' he said. ''But they have told me emphatically that this is it. It's a breakthrough, and it's over. It's done. There is no longer any threat from the Iranian regime. The fatwa will be left to wither on the vine.''

In addition to meeting with officials from the British Foreign Office, Mr. Rushdie spoke by telephone with Mr. Cook twice today, and said he was convinced by the Government's assurances. ''I am given unequivocal and emphatic and definite information from the British Government that it's true,'' he said.

Mr. Rushdie, who over the years often seemed on the verge of being released from his death sentence only to have the Iranian Government reiterate its commitment to the fatwa, or religious edict, said he wasn't sure how to handle the thought of freedom. He has been traveling in public with a team of Special Branch agents guarding him; it was not clear how his security arrangements might change.

''When you're so used to getting hard news -- and by that I mean bad news -- then news like this is almost unbelievable,'' he said. ''It's like being told the cancer is gone. Well, the cancer's gone.''

He added, ''This has been an enduring and collective effort, and I want to thank all those people who helped, many of whom are in the United States, including the Government of the United States.''

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who received something of a rebuff from the Iranians this week, was less enthusiastic. The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since the seizure of the United States Embassy and the taking of American hostages in 1979 during the revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Khomeini died in June 1989, a few months after the edict was issued.

''The question is, how will it be implemented,'' Ms. Albright said of Iran's pledge to distance itself from the bounty.

Mr. Rushdie's book, which was first banned in India, in the fall of 1988, and prompted riots in Pakistan in early 1989 just before coming under Ayatollah Khomeini's edict, shocked Muslims in many countries, who deemed it blasphemous.

The book, written in Mr. Rushdie's most surreal style, includes a dream sequence with prostitutes impersonating the wives of Mohammed to improve their business. It also refers to Mohammed as Mahound, a demon in Christian morality plays. Mr. Rushdie, who was born a Muslim, was seen as a traitor to his faith.

After Ayatollah Khomeini called for Mr. Rushdie's death, the author was forced to seek haven in a series of safe houses in London and was guarded around the clock.

In recent years, Mr. Rushdie was able to travel abroad from time to time, but under tight security.

At an impromptu news conference today here after meeting Mr. Kharrazi, Mr. Cook said, ''Her Majesty's Government recognized the fundamental role of Islam in Iranian life and understood and regretted the offense the book 'The Satanic Verses' has caused to Muslims in Iran and elsewhere in the world.''

Mr. Cook said the understanding reached today with Mr. Kharrazi would improve ties with the European Union as well as Britain. The British, who had been represented in Teheran by a charge d'affaires, said today that they would raise the level of representation to Ambassador.

''These assurances should make possible a much more constructive relationship between the United Kingdom and I believe the European Union, with Iran, and the opening of a new chapter in our relations,'' Mr. Cook said.

[Credit: New York Times, September 25, 1998.]  

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