Salman Rushdie was the target of a notorious fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 23 years ago. Now the author of The Satanic Verses is the subject of an Iranian computer game aimed at spreading the message about his “sin” against Islam to new generations.
The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation that announced this week it had completed the initial phases of production.
News of the computer game came as Tehran this week played host to the country’s second International Computer Games Expo.
“The organisers considered the event as an opportunity to introduce Iranian culture, values and Islamic identity, and also a way to present Iranian products to international computer games designers and producers,” the English-language state television channel, Press TV, reported on its website.
Three years ago the student association and the Iran National Foundation of Computer Games asked students to submit scripts for the game and the top three were handed over to video developers. But the development of the game was delayed.
The director of the students’ association, Ahmad Khalili, told the Fars news agency that production of the game was under way despite technical difficulties. “We usually don’t have any problems with initial thoughts and ideas [for computer games], but when it comes to the actual point of production we experience delays,” he said.
Little has been revealed about the game, but its title suggests that players will be asked to implement the call for the killing of Rushdie.
Iranian authorities have complained in recent years that “enemies” have targeted the country in a “soft and cultural war” using illegal satellite channels, Western novels, Hollywood films and computer games. Western hairstyles and garments have also been condemned as part of the “cultural invasion”.
Iran has struggled to counter this with a presence in cyberspace. Mohammad-Taqi Fakhrian of the students’ association said producing computer games was one way to combat the cultural war.
“We felt we should find a way to introduce our third and fourth generation to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and its importance,” he told the Mehr news agency.
This month, local media devoted significant coverage to the release of the Iranian army’s first video game, Battle in the Gulf of Aden, featuring “the Iranian navy’s mighty presence in the international waters and navy commandos’ fight with the pirates”, according to Fars. – © Guardian News & Media 2012