In the world's best known religious fatwa, Iran's Grand Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie to death, twenty-three years ago.
Now, his ruling is being preserved for posterity as a video game.
"The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict" is a computer game in development by the Islam Association of Students, a government-sponsored organization. Finalizing the initial stages of development this week, the game aims to tell Iran’s next generation of gamers about Rushdie’s “sin” of blasphemy.
Whether or not the game will be a first person shooter or a real time strategy game, or something entirely different, is still unknown. However, if anything is to be gleaned from the title given to the game, players will more than likely implement Khomeini’s Verdict — a death sentence.
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Khomeini called on Muslims around the world to seek out and murder the British novelist, forcing him into hiding for nearly a decade.
Islamic Association of Students representative Mohammad Taqi Fakhrian told the Mehr news agency that the game’s developers hope to inform the next generation about Khomeini’s infamous ruling.
"We felt we should find a way to introduce our third and fourth generation to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and its importance," he said.
The game was officially announced at the second annual International Computer Games Expo in Tehran, which is sanctioned by the Islamic Republic.
"We used to have only two weak (Iran-made) games, but after the issue of computer games came on the agenda of the Council at the order of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei) we developed around 140 games with Islamic and Iranian contents which can compete with foreign products," said Mokhber Dezfouli, secretary of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution to the Fars News Agency.
Struggling to counter western dominance of the video game market, Tehran sanctioned the production of several government-friendly titles, including The Ages of Heroes, a game based on the 10th century Persian epic Shahnameh. In 2007, the Iranian government launched Special Mission 85, a game focusing on two fictional nuclear scientists who are kidnapped by American soldiers while traveling to the Iraqi city of Karbala.
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This year’s highest profile launch in Tehran is the Iranian military’s first game, Battle in the Gulf of Aden. In the game, players captain naval vessels to play out Iran’s dominance in international waters against pirates.
Similarly, the US Army has developed a series of popular first person shooter titles called America’s Army, where players are rewarded for adhering to the US Army’s seven core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.