Khamenei calls for rapprochement of factions
TEHRAN, Oct 1 (AFP) - Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Friday
for a reconciliation of Iran's conservative and reformist factions, two
months after violent clashes pitted pro-reform students against police
and hardline Islamists.
"The country and the revolution are in need of unity," said
Khamenei, who led special weekly prayers attended by leading conservatives
and reformers to mark the centenary of the birth of Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomenei, founder of the Islamic Republic.
"The two main forces (factions) of the regime, which are faithful
to the revolution, must reconcile themselves in order to isolate those
who do not belong to us," he said in the presence of reformist President
"I have held talks with leading officials from the two major forces
in order to reduce the political tension, and it worked," Khamenei
The leader's remarks came after a fresh attack by the country's conservative
camp against the publication of an "anti-Islamic" play accused
of mocking Iran's Shiite Muslim beliefs, which Khatami has denounced for
playing into the hands of hardliners.
"It seems as though a certain group wants to create a haze across
the country with a particular ambition," Khatami charged this week
without elaborating on the identity of the group he suspected was behind
The play, published in the student magazine Moj (Wave), was accused
of making fun of the belief of Iran's Shiite Muslims in a hidden 12th imam
or Mahdi who will return to usher in an age of justice.
But Khamenei issued a stern warning Friday against "any arbitrary,
individual or overly emotional reaction" against the authors of the
"Nobody has the right to react on the basis of feelings and assume
the right to defend the values of Islam. I legally and religiously forbid
any act against the authors of the offense against the 12th imam,"
"It is down to the judiciary to examine and assess the offense
and to nobody else," he said at the ceremony at Khomenei's mausoleum
in south Tehran.
"I would like also to warn the various political factions against
exploiting such topics for their own interests," Khamenei said in
a clear reference to the increasingly bitter factional disputes ahead of
next year's key parliamentary elections.
Iran's security services said last week they had arrested two young
people in connection with the play, but conservative students demonstrated
Tuesday to demand action against leading reformers within Khatami's government.
The supreme leader called on all top officials from both factions to
prevent giving the people the image that they are caught up in a fierce
"Do not do anything that might lead the common people into thinking
that the leaders of the political factions are quibbling and fighting amongst
each other," he said.
The centenary celebrations came just two months after July's bloody
riots sparked by police and volunteer militia attacking students protesting
the closure of a pro-reform magazine.