Reformists accuse television of trying to stop new
TEHRAN, April 19 (AFP) - Iran's main reform party Wednesday accused
the pro-conservative state television service of trying to stop the new
reformist-dominated parliament from meeting by screening a "provocative"
broadcast. Related satire here
The television authority showed late Tuesday what it described as "anti-Islamic"
scenes of a recent Berlin conference attended by supporters of reformist
President Mohammad Khatami.
"The provocative broadcasting of these images is aimed at preventing
the new parliament from meeting, and at hampering the actions and reforms
of Mr Khatami's government," the Islamic Iran Participation Front
(IIPF) said in a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA.
The IIPF, headed by Khatami's brother, which was the main winner of
the February parliamentary elections, accused the television management
of intent "to sow discord among the political forces" of Iran
and "damage national unity and security."
State television had shown Khatami supporters attacking the Islamic
regime at the conference held April 7 and 8.
A commentator apologised to viewers for showing "anti-Islamic"
scenes, including a woman dancing with bare arms, and shots of members
of the banned armed opposition group the People's Mujahadeen.
The broadcast was strongly condemned as "psychological warfare"
by Khatami's representative on the state radio and television company,
Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh.
"The transmission of carefully selected extracts from this conference
offended the public," Aminzadeh was quoted as saying Wednesday by
And he warned that "the management of the media bears the responsibility
for the consequences of this game."
Conference organisers the Heinrich Boell Foundation had invited many
close allies and supporters of Khatami, including reformist cleric Yussefi
Eshkevari and investigative journalist Akbar Ganji.
Also present was Ezzatollah Sahabi of the banned but tolerated secular
party, the Iran Freedom Movement.
The television showed a disruption by members of the People's Mujahadeen
alleging the Khatami government was just as responsible as its predecessors
for the "crimes and human rights violations" in Iran since the
1979 Islamic revolution.
Participants expressed support for Khatami's reforms and condemned press
censorship and political repression in Iran.
Speakers expressed indignation when the woman got up and began to dance,
but most of the audience applauded, and the mere fact of being present
was enough to damn the reformists in the eyes of conservatives.
Iran is in the throes of a power-struggle between conservatives and
reformists in the wake of the latter's election victory. The new parliament
is due to take office in May but the conservative elections watchdog the
Council of Guardians has yet to declare the official results of the first
round and confirm a date for a run-off second round in a number of seats.