Judiciary issues warning against moderate press
TEHRAN, Sep 2 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-dominated judiciary on Thursday
issued a warning against any attempts by the moderate press to breach the
pillars of the Islamic revolution.
In a statement broadcast on radio, the judiciary vigorously backed Wednesday's
remarks by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said "apostate"
journalists opposing the country's eye-for-an-eye laws were liable to the
"The judiciary acts in conformity with Islamic rules and takes
the right to combat those who offend the Islamic revolution's foundations
via articles and newspapers," it said.
In an article published on Monday, the Neshat paper said that the "penalty
of death by hanging or vengeance laws are not solutions to murders and
corruption on earth."
Several conservative MPs on Thursday accused the moderate press of generating
offences against Islam and called on the government to take up its responsibilities.
Hamid-Reza Taraqi, a conservative MP from the holy northeastern city
of Mashhad, blamed reformist Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani's "laxness"
for the attacks against the basic ideological foundations of Islam, the
conservative Kayhan paper reported.
The paper also published a petition by several religious instructors
and seminarists from the holy central Iranian city of Qom, home to the
country's leading Shiite clergy, calling for the closure of Neshat.
On Tuesday the association of Koranic teachers from Qom called on political
leaders to "put an end to this anti-Islamic campaign" in the
pages of the moderate press.
But Neshat's management apologized to its readership Thursday reassuring
them that they had no intentions of offending or questioning the backbone
of Islam while insisting on their innocence.
Papers and writers have been strictly forbidden since the 1979 Islamic
revolution from questioning the "ideological basis" of Islam
and its sharia laws which are largely the basis of civil and criminal law
The new legal system introduced in 1996 prescribes the death penalty
for spying, taking up arms against state security forces and drug trafficking.
In the case of murder, the family of the victim can demand the vengeance
law, which has been in force since the revolution.
Iran's conservative press and hardliners in the government been calling
on the regime all week to "unravel" what they call a "cultural
plot in the newspaper columns" of Neshat and Khordad, the two main
press supporters of President Mohammad Khatami.
During the past year, the conservative judiciary has waged a massive
crackdown on moderate newspapers, closing at least three pro-Khatami papers
and arresting or interrogating dozens of journalists.
The judiciary, which works independently from the country's Justice
ministry, coordinates relations between the government, the judiciary itself
and Iran's magistrates.
In early August, Khamenei appointed Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shaharudi
as the new judiciary chief who vowed to follow up on Khatami's calls for
a thorough reform of the nation's courts.