Iran Announces the Salman Rushdie Fatwa Video Game

Salman Rushdie may have escaped the Ayatollah's death sentence in real life -- but what about virtually?

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REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

Novelist Salman Rushdie has so far escaped the decades-old call for his death in the real world, but in the video game universe he may not be so lucky. This week the government-sponsored Iranian Islamic Association of Students announced that a Salman Rushdie computer game is in development.

Not much is yet known about the storyline for the game, but the matter-of-fact title — “The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of His Verdict” — suggests that players may get to follow through on Ayatollah Khomeini’s 23-year-old call for the author’s head.

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Officials are hoping the concept will attract younger Iranians, whom they aim to educate about the “sin” committed by Rushdie — an Indian-born British author who spent years in hiding after being accused of committing blasphemy and profaning the religion of Islam with his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. Speaking with the semi-official Mehr news agency, student association representative Mohammed-Taqi Fakhrian said, “We felt we should find a way to introduce our third and fourth generation to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and its importance.”

(VIDEO: TIME’s 10 Questions for Salman Rushdie)

The announcement was made during the second annual International Computer Games Expo in Tehran. Computer gaming is a growth industry in Iran of late; Mokhber Dezfouli, of the country’s governing Supreme Council, told the Fars News Agency that Iran had “developed around 140 games with Islamic and Iranian contents which can compete with foreign products.”

The most recent offering is the Iranian Army’s first foray into gaming, Battle in Gulf of Aden, a game focused on the navy’s “mighty presence in the international waters”. Other games include Special Mission 85, a story about two fictional nuclear scientists who are abducted by American forces in Iraq.

Then of course there’s Gando, described in the Iranian National foundation Computer Games handbook as “a game for children is the main character that a crocodile short muzzle with local name Gando.”

Gando aside, most of Iran’s recent video games seem to be pointed ripostes to Western-made first-person shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield 3 — currently banned in Iran due to its depiction of a fictional U.S. assault on Tehran. In a direct response to Battlefield 3, Iran announced that it would produce a video game titled Attack on Tel Aviv.

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