Iran's leader denounces West, warns domestic press
By Jonathan Lyons
TEHRAN, April 20 (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader on Thursday vowed
the country would never submit to U.S. hegemony, denouncing domestic journalists
who he said were doing America's bidding to undermine the Islamic system.
Related photo here
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his second major address in a week, lashed
out at globalisation as a pretext for domination by the West. On April
14, he warned of the dangers of ``American-style'' reforms.
The looming threat of foreign domination, Khamenei said, was compounded
by the presence of ``domestic hypocrites,'' particularly the pro-reform
``There is a double threat that consists of direct penetration by America
as well as the new wave of globalisation,'' the leader told thousands of
young people gathered at a Tehran prayer hall.
``Globalisation means a group of powers increase their cultural and
economic influence throughout the world. It's like creating a joint stock
company in which they own 95 percent... They have full control.
``Most countries have accepted this. There is one country which has
not. We have said and we continue to say that we will not submit,'' Khamenei
said, as the crowd roared: ``Death to America.''
ROLE OF PRESS DECRIED
Washington is probing for an end to 20 years of estrangement between
the former allies, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright last month
offered regret for past U.S. policy. She also waived import bans on Iranian
Iranian officials have promised a comprehensive response but so far
the U.S. initiative has done little more than exacerbate factional tensions
between reformers grouped around President Mohammad Khatami and the conservative
It also followed a strong showing by the reformist bloc in parliamentary
polls, prompting a conservative backlash that has seen aggressive prosecution
of pro-reform journalists by hardliners in the judiciary.
That campaign appeared to get a boost from the leader, who has the final
word in all matters of state.
``Unfortunately, today the enemy is taking roots inside Iran ...Some
newspapers have become bases for our enemies,'' he said.
``I am not against press freedom, but some newspapers have been created
with the aim of inciting public opinion and creating differences and mistrust
between the people and the system. It seems there are 10 or 15 that are
controlled from a single centre.''
Chants of ``Death to the mercenary pen-pushers'' and ``Shame on the
hypocrites, leave our newspapers alone,'' rippled through a crowd swelled
by members of the Islamic Basij militia and other activists, some bussed
in from city mosques.
Iran's independent press has flourished under President Khatami -- a
former newspaperman -- as part of his campaign to create a civil society
within the Islamic system. The result is one of the most lively public
debates in the entire Middle East.
But conservatives blame the press for their electoral defeat, and they
say unbridled press freedom is un-Islamic, something Khatami and his allies
``I have called on officials many times to take action. This is not
preventing the free flow of information, but it is ending the propaganda
plots of our enemies and their aim to penetrate our system,'' Khamenei
``This press movement is harmful to the future of our country, our youth
and the revolution. They are trying continually to attack the people's
Khamenei's remarks followed a stern warning by Iran's Revolutionary
Guards, who pride themselves on their loyalty to the leader, that they
would not sit by idly while the Islamic system came under attack.
``We will try at first to be tolerant with the duped elements and criminals.
But, when there is a need, we will descend upon them like lightening, without
hesitation or discrimination,'' the Guards said in a statement.
The tough talk prompted fears in some quarters of a possible coup d'etat,
rumours strenuously denied by the president's office, the Guards and other