An Iranian foundation has reportedly increased a bounty for the death of Salman Rushdie, saying that if the British writer had previously been killed for blasphemy an anti-Islam film currently enraging Muslims would never have been made.
Iranian media quoted Hassan Sane'i, a cleric heading the 15 of Khordad Foundation, as saying in a statement that he was "adding another $500,000 to the reward for killing Rushdie."
With the increase, the foundation was now offering $3.3 million for the death of Rushdie, who since 1989 has been the target of a Iranian fatwa calling for his murder for allegedly blaspheming Islam and its Prophet Mohammed in his book "The Satanic Verses."
The foundation's statement was quoted saying that, unless Rushdie were killed, "the movie offending the prophet will not be the last contemptuous attempt."
It added that "these days are the most appropriate time to carry it (Rushdie's murder) out."
Violent protests erupted this week in several Muslim countries against the American-made movie, which crudely lampoons Mohammed and associates him with sexual deviancy. Devout Muslims consider it blasphemous to depict the prophet in any way.
Indian-born Rushdie, 65, spent a decade in hiding after Iran's spiritual leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the 1989 fatwa against him for his book.
Although Iran's foreign ministry in 1998 assured Britain that Iran would do nothing to implement the fatwa, current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January 2005 reaffirmed in a message carried by the official IRNA news agency that Rushdie was considered an apostate whose murder was authorised under Islam.