ATHENS, Greece -- A hard-line Iranian cleric said Wednesday that the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's call for the assassination of British author Salman Rushdie remained in effect, Tehran radio reported.
Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karubi, the hard-line speaker of the Iranian Parliament said: 'The imam's (Khomeini's) edict ... remains in full force,' and support for Rushdie in Britain and other Western countries would have no effect.
Karubi was speaking in the Majlis, or Parliament, on the first anniversary of Khomeini's call for Moslems anywhere in the world to kill Rushdie for writing the novel 'The Satanic Verses,' which many Moslems consider blasphemous.
His remarks came five days after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini in June as spiritual leader of Iran, mounted a pulpit on Friday to renew the call for Moslems to assassinate the author.
Monitored in Athens, Tehran radio quoted Karubi as saying Khomeini's 'fatwa,' or religious edict, 'caused a wave of pride and joy among Moslems of the world.'
He said, 'Britain and Western countries ... should know that their arguments for the support of the writer of this book will remain ineffective.'
He said over the past year, since Khomeini issued his death call against Rushdie, protests and demonstrations by Moslems have continued, and 'Britain, which was the source of the insult, has been the scene of demonstrations and protests again and again.'
In London, a Downing Street official said the statement indicated 'a widening' of last Friday's declaration because of its castigation of Britain's protection procedures. He said there was little to add to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's statement last week that she deplored the death order.
Thatcher said in Parliament on Tuesday that death threats were totally unacceptable.
'Freedom of speech and freedom to write is freedom to say things with which other people do not agree,' she said.
'That is one of our fundamental freedoms. We must uphold it and will continue to uphold it. I do not believe that such words or such writing will do anything to damage the great religions, which are far older than those who write about them.'
'We deplore renewed incitements to violence against British citizens,' a Foreign Office spokesman said. 'This (reiteration by Iran) doesn't change the picture at all. We would like to have normal relations with Iran provided these are on the basis of international standards of tolerance and behavior.'
In Baghdad, the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, an Iranian opposition group, said Tehran's ruling clerics are 'trying hard to create new crises with their open calls for terrorism abroad in order to conceal the increasing power struggle' at home.
Rushdie, who went into hiding after Khomeini issued the assassination call and a $1 million bounty was placed on his head, said last week that since blamphemy implied prior belief, his book was not blasphemous because he was not a Moslem but a free thinker.
Karubi said the British government, 'has hurt the feelings of 1 billion Moslems of the world by supporting this miserable person.'
The Iranian Parliament speaker also condemned Japan, which he said had timed the publication of a Japanese translation of the book to coincide with the first anniversary of Khomein's death call against Rushdie.
He asked Iranians to attend special religious ceremonies organized in Tehran mosques Wednesday in memory of people who died in India and Pakistan during protest demonstrations against 'The Satanic Verses.'
The official Islamic Republic News Agency said in a commentary: 'The late imam issued a death decree against Rushdie and the book's publishers' a year ago so that 'no one would ever dare again to insult Muslims sanctities.'
IRNA said: 'The 1979 victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran entailed a full-fledged conspiracy by world arrogance, the latest being the publication of 'The Satanic Verses,' with the aim to undermine Islamic teachings.'
'To this end, the Bombay-born British writer Salman Rushdie was hired to accomplish the dirty mission,' the commentary said. 'The anti-Islamic book for which Rushdie received a sum of half a million pounds sterling, was published in early autumn two years ago.'
IRNA quoted the hard-line Tehran newspaper Jomhuri Islami as saying: 'Imam Khomeini's historical fatwa against the author of the sacriligious novel 'The Satanic Verses' taught a lesson to the Western world to respect Islamic beliefs and religious sanctities.'