Salman Rushdie invite to Frankfurt Book Fair against freedom of expression: official

October 6, 2015

TEHRAN -- Deputy Culture Minister for Cultural Affairs Seyyed Abbas Salehi has said that Frankfurt Book Fair’s plan to invite Salman Rushdie violates freedom of expression.

Earlier last week, the organizers of the book fair, which is the world’s largest event in the publishing industry, said, “On the significance of freedom of expression for authors and the book industry”, Rushdie will give the keynote address at the opening press conference of the fair on October 13.

Rushdie is the author of “The Satanic Verses”, a blasphemous novel about Islam, which was published in 1988.

The book sparked Muslims’ outrage, which culminated in a fatwa by Imam Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic, calling for Rushdie’s death.

“If we want freedom to turn into a sustainable issue and not an overture to violence, we should provide the necessary prerequisites,” Salehi told the Persian service of MNA on Monday.

“A basic prerequisite is respect for the sanctities of every religion,” he noted.

He warned the organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair about the Rushdie invite and said, “The plan to invite Salman Rushdie would provoke feelings whose results would not be clear.”

Salehi said that Iran has sent a letter to Frankfurt Book Fair Director Juergen Boos, asking him to cancel their plans for Rushdie’s speech. However, there has been no response from him so far.

He said that Iran has also called upon other Muslim countries to protest against the Frankfurt Book Fair’s plans for Rushdie’s speech.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is slated to take place from October 14 to 18.

In addition, dozens of independent Iranian publishers are scheduled to showcase their latest offerings at the fair, which is the world’s largest event in the publishing industry.

Photo: Deputy Culture Minister for Cultural Affairs Seyyed Abbas Salehi in an undated photo (Tasnim/Mohammad Hassanzadeh)

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