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Iranian Religious Group Increases Reward for Murder of Salman Rushdie to $3.3 Million

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Writer Salman Rushdie arrives at the 'Midnight's Children' Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 9, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.Credit: Getty Images

TEHRAN, Iran (TheBlaze/AP) -- Iran's top leader urged the West on Monday to show it respects Muslims by blocking a film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad and has touched off rage across the Islamic world.

State TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying Western leaders must prove they are not "accomplices" in a "big crime." These comments come despite the fact that the aforementioned film, a project called "Innocence of Muslims," is under scrutiny.

Such an appeal falls into the major cultural divide over the film, as it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of free and open speech. U.S. officials say they cannot limit free expression and Google Inc. refuses to do a blanket ban on the YouTube video clip. This leaves individual countries putting up their own blocks.

Khamenei noted that some nations place restrictions on expression deemed hate speech, such as banning Nazi-related sites, or legislating protections for gays or lesbians.

"How there is no room for freedom of expression in these cases, but insulting Islam and its sanctities is free?" Khamenei was quoted as saying.

Separately, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran will send a protest letter on the film to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Iranians have staged several demonstrations against the film, but none have been violent. Crowds gathered last week in front of the Swiss Embassy, which looks after American diplomatic interests in Iran.

A semi-official religious foundation also increased a reward it had offered for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie to $3.3 million from $2.8 million over his book "The Satanic Verses," which was considered blasphemous by Iranian leaders.

A 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, was issued against Rushdie by Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but Iranian authorities have since distanced themselves from the order.

However, back in January, Rushdie canceled appearances over threats that were waged against his life. Also, as TheBlaze reported, an Iranian student group produced a video game earlier this summer that lets players track down and kill Rushdie.

Titled “The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict,” the game is the brainchild of the Islamic Association of Students, who apparently want to inform newer generations about the fatwa against Rushdie and the importance of its being carried out.

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