Khatami calls for greater tolerance
TEHRAN, May 11 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami appealed
to the various political factions in the country on Tuesday to stop viewing
each other as "rivals" and to display greater tolerance.
"The various factions should refrain from making certain issues
bigger than they are in order to drive out their rivals from the scene,"
the official IRNA news agency quoted Khatami as saying during a meeting
with senior clerics in Tehran.
"The existence of different views, tastes and tendencies among
people is a god given trait," he said. "The forming of different
factions and groups lies in human nature."
Khatami, a moderate cleric elected president in a landslide in May
1997 against a conservative opponent, described the need to accept criticism
as "a prerequisite for political progress."
"We should exercise tolerance and consider criticism as a virtue,
not a vice," he said.
"The government, as well as the president himself, has been subject
to the most criticism ... but we have tolerated it and must aim at being
a symbol of tolerance for the people.
"Unfortunately certain misinformed individuals consider political
development synonomous with spreading laxity and freedom, disorder and
anarchy," IRNA quoted Khatami as saying.
Khatami also urged people to "look for our internal shortcomings
in cases of failing," and to refrain "from blaming the opponents
for all the problems the country is facing."
Khatami's remarks came nearly a week after the jailing of moderate
former Tehran mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi, whose trial for corruption
triggered heated political debate in the country.
Karbaschi went to prison on Thursday to begin serving a two-year jail
term for corruption and mismanagement.
He was convicted last year in a case which he, and many officials,
claimed was a political frame-up by his conservative opponents.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday turned down
an appeal by 146 MPs for a pardon for the imprisoned former mayor, a leading
supporter of Khatami.