Now that Salman Rushdie is very much out of hiding, partying in public with a seemingly endless parade of beautiful girlfriends, you might have assumed that Iran’s fatwa against the author is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As recently as 2006, the government confirmed that the fatwa is permanent. Now, NBC News reports that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 condemnation still stands — and, in fact, the reward for killing Rushdie has just increased by half a million dollars. “I am adding another $500,000 to the reward for killing Salman Rushdie, and anyone who carries out this sentence will receive the whole amount immediately,” said Hassan Sanei, the head of an Iranian religious foundation, in a statement.
The price on Rushdie’s head was raised to $3.3 million in response to Innocence of Muslims, the (entirely unrelated) anti-Islam film that has recently sparked protests and attacks on American embassies. Speaking to Today‘s Matt Lauer about that movie’s creator, Rushdie said, “He’s done something malicious, and that’s a very different thing from writing a serious novel… He’s clearly set out to provoke, and he’s obviously unleashed a much bigger reaction than he hoped for. I mean, one of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting.”