A senior Iranian cleric Wednesday offered up to $2.6 million for the slaying of Salman Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" has angered Moslem fundamentalists. Newspapers said the writer was under armed guard.
A representative of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said any Iranian who kills Rushdie will receive a reward of 200 million rials, or $2.6 million, for bringing "this mercenary of arrogance to his punishment," the Islamic Republic News Agency said.The representative, Hojatoleslam Hassan Saneie, who heads the Islamic charitable foundation 15th Khortad, said the group would pay a foreigner $1 million for killing the 41-year-old author.
Demonstrators in the Iranian capital broke windows at the British Embassy, a diplomat there said. He said no embassy employees were injured. About 2,000 people took part in the protest, expressing support for Khomeini's decree and anger over the book. IRNA, in a report monitored in Cyprus, said the Revolutionary Guards Corps expressed their "readiness to carry out the Imam's (Khomeini's) decree."
Khomeini, leader of Iran's Islamic revolution, said Tuesday that Rushdie's novel is so offensive to Islam that he had ordered the author and the novel's publishers put to death.
Rushdie, shaken by death threats against him and his publishers, canceled a public speaking tour of the United States to promote "The Satanic Verses" and disappeared from public view.
The author's wife, Marianne Wiggins, an American, said upon leaving the couple's north London home, "The best thing for him to do now is to stay in hiding with a special branch man at his side."
Scotland Yard refused to confirm whether security had been provided to Rushdie, 41. Police were posted outside the offices of the British publisher, Viking Penguin.
The book portrays the founder of a fictional religion, based on the prophet Mohammed and Islam, as having human failings and implies Mohammed may have written the Koran himself, rather than as God dictated it to him.
One of Britain's most acclaimed modern writers, Rushdie won Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, in 1981 for his work about India's birth as an independent nation, "Midnight's Children."
Until the publication of "The Satanic Verses," which also was a contender for the Booker Prize, his writings were acclaimed in the Islamic world, particularly in Iran.