To the Editors:
Your readers may be interested in the following declaration of support for Salman Rushdie signed by about fifty prominent Iranians living in exile.
Ms. Homa Sarshar
Los Angeles, California
It is now three years since the writer Salman Rushdie began living under the death threat voiced by Khomeini, and yet no collective action has been taken by Iranians to condemn this barbaric decree. As this outrageous and deliberate attack on freedom of speech was issued in Iran, we feel that the Iranian intellectuals should condemn this Fatwa and defend Salman Rushdie more forcefully than any other group on earth.
The signers of this declaration, who have shown in many different ways their support for Salman Rushdie now and in the past, believe that freedom of speech is one of the greatest achievements of mankind, and point out, as Voltaire once did, that this freedom would be meaningless unless human beings had the liberty to blaspheme. No one and no group has the right to hamper or hinder this freedom in the name of this or that sanctity.
We emphasize the fact that Khomeini’s death sentence is intolerable, and stress that in judging a creative work of art no considerations are valid other than aesthetic ones.
We raise our voices unanimously in the defense of Salman Rushdie, and remind the whole world that Iranian writers, artists, journalists, and thinkers inside Iran are persistently under the merciless pressure of religious censorship, and that the number of those who have been imprisoned or even executed there for “blasphemy” is not negligible.
We are convinced that any tolerance shown toward the systematic violation of human rights in Iran cannot but encourage and embolden the Islamic regime to expand and export its terrorist ideas and methods worldwide.
Ali-Asghar Haj Seyed Javadi
May 14, 1992