'Iran will pursue makers of anti-Islam film'

Iranian foundation ups price on Salman Rushdie's head

Iran's government will "track down" those responsible for making an amateurish film clip mocking the Prophet Mohammad, a senior official said, Iranian media reported on Monday.

"The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns ... this inappropriate and offensive action," First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said, according to the Mehr news agency. 
 
"Certainly it will search for, track, and pursue this guilty person who ... has insulted 1.5 billion Muslims in the world."
 
The Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, condemned to death the Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie in 1989 for his novel "The Satanic Verses." 

Rahimi did not give details on how Iran would pursue the makers of the film in his remarks, which the Iranian Students' News Agency said he had made at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.
 
The identity of those directly responsible for the film is still murky. Clips of the film posted online since July have been attributed to a man named Sam Bacile, which two people linked to the film have said was probably an alias. 

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian widely linked to the film in media reports, was voluntarily questioned on Saturday by U.S. authorities investigating possible violations of his probation for a bank fraud conviction.

Meanwhile, a Iranian religious foundation has increased its reward for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the film, was condemned to death in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's late leader, over his novel "The Satanic Verses."

Khomeini's fatwa - religious edict - was condemned in the West as incitement to murder and an assault on freedom of speech, but a wealthy Iranian religious organisation has offered a large reward to anyone carrying it out and decided to increase the bounty amid the furore over the online film.

"I am adding another $500,000 to the reward for killing Salman Rushdie, and anyone who carries out this sentence will receive the whole amount immediately," said Hassan Sanei, the foundation's head, in a statement carried by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).

The reward offered by the state-linked foundation now stands at $3.3 million, ISNA reported.
 
 "Surely if the sentence of the Imam (Khomeini) had been carried out, the later insults in the form of caricatures, articles and the making of movies would not have occurred," said Sanei, who is also the foundation's representative to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor as Iran's supreme leader.

Rushdie, speaking on British radio before the news of the increased bounty, called the film "idiotic ... a piece of garbage" but he also condemned violent protests against it as "an ugly reaction that needs to be named as such". 

In 1998, under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, Iran's government distanced itself from the Rushdie fatwa, but hardline groups regularly renew the call for Rushdie's death, saying Khomeini's decree is irrevocable and eternal. 

 

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