Since 1989, Salman Rushdie has had to live a mostly underground life after Iran's then-supreme leader called for his assassination over the novel The Satanic Verses. Now that fatwa, which is occasionally paraded out by the country's religious leaders, has been reupped yet again, and this time 40 state-controlled media groups are crowdfunding it, the Guardian reports. The organizations raised about $600,000 at a media trade fair to add to the existing bounty, which is now said to run close to $4 million, per the New York Times. "Imam Khomeini's fatwa is a religious decree and it will never lose its power or fade out," Iran's deputy culture minister tells the Fars News Agency, which shows a picture of Rushdie, 68, with crosshairs on his forehead.
The 27-year fatwa against Rushdie—who once said living in hiding was like a "comedy routine"— was supposedly lifted in 1998 by ex-President Mohammad Khatami, but the religious faction said only the issuer could pull it back (and Khomeini died in 1989). After current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took the country's reins, he decreed the fatwa was still in place. Meanwhile, an Iranian journalist tells the Times she believes the latest reminder about Rushdie, who's lived a discreet, bodyguard-flanked lifestyle in New York City for more than a decade, is meant to be a distraction as elections near. Analysts say hard-liners want "an electoral edge" by keeping voters concentrating on other matters. (A Rushdie marriage proposal failed.)