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Rushdie row reaches Romania: CEN 1.11.08 p 6. January 10, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Free Speech, Iran, Islam.

salman-rushdie.jpgPatriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church has denounced the publication of a Romanian translation of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, saying the novel attacks the spiritual values and symbols of all religions.

On Dec 20 the Romanian publishing firm Editura Polirm Publications released 5000 copies of the novel, selling out the first print run by the end of the day. Patriarch Daniel released a statement on behalf of the Romanian Orthodox Synod that day saying the 1988 novel offended “spiritual values’ and “religious symbols” and called for it to be taken of the shelves of the country’s book stores.

The novel could be banned in Romania free speech activists fear as last year the government adopted a religious hate speech law. Article 13 of the speech code criminalizes “all forms, all means, all acts of animosity toward religion,” as well as “the public defamation of religious symbols.”

Iran’s Ambassador to Romania has also demanded the government ban the novel, saying it is a grave insult to Romania’s 100,000 Muslim citizens.

The FARS news agency of Tehran said Ambassador Hamid Reza Arshadi had demanded the government ban the book for disparaging Islam. The Iranian government also called on Romania’s Muslim minority to take “immediate and coordinated action” to “prevent distribution of the book.”

In 1989 the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling on all good Muslims to kill Rushdie and his publishers, or to assist in their murder. In 2006 the Iranian state news agency reported the fatwa remained in force.

Publication of the has proven a risky business for some overseas publishers. In 1991 the Japanese translator of the book stabbed to death, while the Italian language translator was seriously injured in a stabbing the same month. In 1993 an Islamist extremist almost succeeded in killing Rushdie’s Norwegian publisher.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

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