Ali Khameneis personlige representant på 15. Khordad-stiftelsen, ayatollah Sanei, har økt dusøren for å ta livet av Salman Rushdie.

Khamenei selv sa fredag at hvis Rushdie var blitt drept i sin tid, hadde verden sluppet karikaturstriden og dagens video-snutt.

Irans president gjør det pedagogisk klart hvordan islamistene ser sammenhengen – fra Rushdie til dagens konflikt.

In a speech last Friday, he decried the film as the work of US imperialism and «Zionism» and linked it to other perceived western attacks on Islam, including The Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

«Had they not backed the previous links in this evil chain, namely Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, and the US pastors who burned the Holy Koran and had they not made orders for [production of] tens of anti-Islam movies to companies affiliated to the Zionist capitalists, things would not have lead to this great and unforgivable sin today,» Ayatollah Khamenei said.

Nå følger ayatollah Sanei opp, med å gjøre det enda tydeligere at fatwaen – dvs. den religiøse dødsdommen over Rushdie står ved lag.

Det skjer samtidig som Rushdie er ved å utgi sin selvbiografi om livet under og med fatwaen.

Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, head of a powerful state foundation providing relief to the poor, said the film would never have been made if the order to execute Rushdie, issued by the late Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had been carried out.

Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa sentencing the author to death in 1989 after declaring his novel, The Satanic Verses, «blasphemous», but Iranian officials later indicated it would not be implemented.

«It [the film] won’t be the last insulting act as long as Imam Khomeini’s historic order on executing the blasphemous Salman Rushdie is not carried out,» he said in a statement.

«If the imam’s order was carried out, the further insults in the form of caricatures, articles and films would not have taken place. The impertinence of the grudge-filled enemies of Islam, which is occurring under the flag of the Great Satan, America and the racist Zionists, can only be blocked by the absolute administration of this Islamic order.»

Ayatollah Saeni’s offer appeared to be an officially-sanctioned attempt by Iran to harness anger across the Muslim world over the film, which was produced by anti-Muslim Christians based in the United States. The film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed in a derogatory manner, has provoked riots and violent attacks on western interests in several Muslim countries, including Libya, where Americans, including the ambassador, were killed.

Mens verden har innbillet seg at fatwaen ble lagt død da president Khatami i 1998 lovte at den aldri ville bli satt ut i livet, har Khamenei gjenopplivet den. Første gang i en tale til pilgrimer til Mekka i 2005.

Canada brøt nylig de diplomatiske forbindelsene med Iran. Det samme gjorde Storbritannia i sin tid. Å gjenopplive dødsdommen mot Rushdie er en åpenlys provokasjon mot det internasjonale samfunn.

Although Ayatollah Sanei has offered financial rewards for carrying out the edict in the past, he said Muslim anger over the recent film meant the time was now ripe.

«The aim [of the fatwa] has been to uproot the anti-Islamic conspiracy and now the necessity for taking this action is even more obvious than any other time,» he said. «I’m adding another $500,000 to the reward and anyone who carries out this order will immediately receive the whole amount.» The total bounty is now $3.3m (£2.1 m).

The increased bounty was issued on the eve of the publication of a memoir by Rushdie about his years spent in hiding and living under armed guard from would-be executioners intent on carrying out Khomeini’s sentence.

It also re-opens an affair that appeared to have been laid to rest after Iranian officials gave assurances that the fatwa would not be put into effect.

In 1998, Iran’s reformist then president, Mohammad Khatami, declared the Rushdie affair «completely finished» during an appearance at the UN General Assembly in New York. The Iranian foreign minister at the time, Kemal Kharrazi, also announced that Iran would not threaten the author’s life or encourage others to kill him.

The statements led to a restoration of diplomatic ties between London and Tehran, which Britain had cut in protest. It also prompted Rushdie to come out of hiding.

However, the fatwa – passed four months before Khomeini’s death – was never annulled and hardliners have frequently revived the issue as a political weapon in their internal struggle with more moderate elements in Iran’s theocratic regime.

It is unlikely that Ayatollah Sanei, personal representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the 15th Khordad Foundation, was acting without higher approval. In 2005, Ayatollah Khamenei himself reaffirmed the fatwa while addressing pilgrims preparing to visit Mecca.

Iran resurrects Salman Rushdie threat
Iran has seized on widespread Muslim outrage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad to revive the death threat against Salman Rushdie, raising the reward for killing him by US$500,000 (£320,000).