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Iranian speaker warns against unchecked "freedoms"

TEHRAN, May 24 (AFP) - Iran's conservative speaker of parliament, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, warned Monday that unchecked "freedoms" were threatening the ideological foundations of the Islamic Revolution.

Nateq-Nuri, who was addressing a group of army officials at the southern Tehran shrine of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, also denounced "cultural plots" by "so-called nationalists."

The speaker, a leader of the conservative faction in parliament, also hit out at a "campaign orchestrated by the foreign media and carried out by suspicious interior elements."

His statements echoed those of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who last week warned against a cultural and political opening which he said would weaken the pillars of the Islamic regime.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who beat Nateq-Nuri in the May 1997 presidential elections, on Sunday called for the establishment of an "Islamic democracy" in Iran and denounced those who "hide behind the principles of the 1979 revolution, or use them as a cover for ousting political rivals."

Nateq-Nuri was speaking at a ceremony on Monday marking the anniversary of the liberation in 1982 of the strategic southern city of Khorramshahr during the war against Iraq.

The parliament speaker lashed out against "those who encourage corruption and prostitution in cultural circles under the pretext of liberty."

"The enemy seeks to make our youth indifferent and sow discord between the public and the leaders," he said, warning against "uncontrolled development of freedoms which threaten the ideological foundations of the revolution."

The warnings were clearly aimed at moderate Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, a staunch supporter of Khatami's reformist agenda who escaped an impeachment attempt in the conservative-dominated parliament last month.

Mohajerani has been behind much of the liberalization of the arts and the media over the past two years. Nateq-Nuri also attacked the small liberal opposition still tolerated by the regime and which surfaced on the political scene after the election of Khatami after years of semi-clandestinity.

He denounced the "so-called nationalists and liberals of the provisional government" led by Mehdi Bazargan during the first months after the overthrow of the imperial regime in 1979.

The speaker accused them of "wanting to infiltrate" parliament during next year's parliamentary elections in order to "undermine the pillars of the regime."

Nateq-Nuri said there were "no differences" between the leadership on foreign policy matters and added that the country's serious economic difficulties will be resolved "through solidarity and cooperation."

Nateq-Nuri concluded his speech by calling on all factions of the regime to "silence their political quarrels and join the supreme leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


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