In a previous post at Legal Insurrection, I suggested that the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen and the Salman Rushdie fatwa issued in 1989 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran are analogous. In the case of the fatwa, a Muslim leader and cleric called on Muslims to kill a Western author deemed to be guilty of blasphemy towards Islam, more or less the same action the modern-day terrorists have taken on themselves against Western cartoonists who lampoon Mohammed.

In light of Obama’s repeated insistence that terrorists do not act as agents of Islam, doesn’t he need to answer some questions about the Rushdie fatwa? The questions appear in an essay of mine in the Weekly Standard, and whether or not Obama ever addresses them (please do not sit on a hot stove until he does), they point out the absurdity of his denial of the connection between such killings and Islam.

Here’s an excerpt:

The fatwa Khomeini issued makes chilling reading even today. Here’s a translation:

“I would like to inform all the intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled ‘Satanic Verses’. . . as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, are hereby sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Moslems to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctity. Whoever is killed doing this will be regarded as a martyr and will go directly to heaven.”

Nothing to do with Islam? I would remind Obama, as he ponders that question, that at the time of the Rushdie fatwa Khomeini had not only been “Supreme Leader” of Iran — a country that has the seventh-largest Muslim population in the world — for almost a decade, but he also had long been considered an expert in Islamic law and had written many books on the subject.

Then in 1991, when Rushdie’s book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death in Tokyo, and when in 1993 his Italian translator was attacked in Milan but survived, and when the same thing happened to his Norwegian publisher in Oslo, did those murders and attempted murders have nothing to do with Islam?

The Iranian government officially supported the Rushdie fatwa for almost ten more years, until 1998, but that year did not mark the end of the trouble for Rushdie emanating from Iran. In 2012 a state-linked religious foundation increased the bounty that was still on Rushdie’s head. The reward for killing Rushdie now stands at a cool $3.3 million, and the leader of the foundation involved in the bounty money, Hassan Sanei, is also the group’s representative to the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Khomeini’s successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is a common misconception that the Rushdie fatwa is no longer in place, but that’s only because Iran’s non-clerical leaders appeared to disavow it after nine years. Its highly influential religious leaders did not. Supreme Leader Khamenei reaffirmed it in 2005, as have Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who “confirmed the Rushdie fatwa and stated its conformance with Muslim thought throughout history.”

Khomeini was no fringe figure in the religion he spent most of his life studying, and in which he rose to such a high position. Although it is certainly true that not every Muslim agrees with the views he espoused and Khameini still espouses, universal assent would be an impossible standard to meet. Obama would not have to be making a judgment about which sect is the true one in order to acknowledge that the official Iranian wing of Islam is accepted as bona fide by many millions in Iran, the seventh largest Muslim country in the world, and that Islamic scholars there consider both Khomeini and Khamenei to be highly respected figures within Islam, possessed of the authority to order “all the intrepid Muslims in the world” to kill writers deemed to have blasphemed.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]