Khamenei renews his Salman Rushdie death fatwa, and gets his tweet deleted

A few days ago, the Twitter account of Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, published a post calling for the murder of the British novelist Salman Rushdie.

Under the account called @khamenei_ir, (which, while not blue-checked, is the account Iranians say the mullah uses), Khamenei tweeted that the death fatwa pronounced in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, against Rushdie for his book, The Satanic Verses, was "solid and irrevocable."

"Imam Khomeini's verdict on Salman Rushdie is based on divine verses and, like the divine verses, it is solid and irrevocable," Khamenei wrote in his post on Twitter.

Here's a screen shot of the tweet:

This tweet caught the attention of Twitter users and journalists who saw Khamenei's message as an attempt to incite murder. On Friday, a Twitter spokesperson said it was against Twitter's policy to publish specific threats of violence or to wish for serious injury, death or illness to a person or group of people. The social media giant decided to delete the tweet and convert it to read-only mode so that no further comments could be posted.

That was quite a smackdown to the murder-minded mullah. Here he was, going all grand in his imposition of a death sentence, and he got his tweet deleted same as if he were a noxious Internet troll.

So, a battle of sorts between Twitter and the supreme leader was won by Twitter and Khamenei had to return to some impression of reason by the removal of the provocative post.

Khomeini's initiative to use this tweet was nothing but his bid to show off after U.S. sanctions and internal popular protests. But as one Tehran-based local said, it only amounted to something like like a boomerang, because it brought back a double-disgrace for him, just like the other political issues these days. Americans would say it was like 'egg on his face.'

On Feb. 14, 1989, a fatwa calling for the execution of Rushdie was broadcast on Radio Tehran by Khomeini, denouncing Rushdie's book as "blasphemous." The threat was not an idle one, and Rushdie, even in the U.K., had to go into hiding. Khomeini condemned Rushdie for apostasy, which is punishable by death. In his fatwa, he stated that it was now the responsibility of every Muslim to execute Rushdie and his editors.

"I want to inform all Muslims that the author of the book The Satanic Verses, which was written, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, as well as those who published it or know its contents, have been sentenced to death," Khomeini wrote in his fatwa.

"I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they find them so that no one insults Islamic sanctities," the fatwa added.

For a moment at least, the big mullah found himmself shut up by Twitter.

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