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Salman Rushdie, now the target of an Iranian video game

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(Read caption) Salman Rushdie and Robert Spano discuss art and technology during a panel discussion at Emory University.
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As if Salman Rushdie didn’t have enough stress in his life, living in the shadow of a 23-year-old death sentence imposed on him by the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Now there is a video game, “The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict,” announced in Tehran at Iran’s second annual International Computer Games Expo, which will allow gamers to carry out the Ayatollah’s death sentence against Mr. Rushdie.

Ayatollah issued a fatwa, or religious directive, against Rushdie in 1989, because Rushdie had authored the book “Satanic Verses,” which many Muslims thought had defamed the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad.

It’s tempting to see Rushdie, who spent the first few years of his fatwa living in hiding, as a champion of modernity against the superstitions of ancient prejudice, and for the non-curious among us, that is how he will likely remain. But consider this irony. Rushdie himself is an unapologetic Luddite, a man who prefers to practice the art of writing with pen and paper, a man who once told an interviewer that Steve Jobs, whose Apple computer company had given the world the iPad, had “destroyed the world of literature.” And in Iran, the successors of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the presumed defender of a 1300-year-old religion, are the ones allegedly developing nuclear weapons, and now, creating video games to virtually snuff out a writer.

"We used to have only two weak [Iranian-made] games, but after the issue of computer games came on the agenda of the Council at the order of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei] we developed around 140 games with Islamic and Iranian contents which can compete with foreign products," Mokhber Dezfouli, secretary of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, told the Fars News Agency.

In the Clash of Civilizations, the lines can get pretty blurry.

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