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Speaker warns against return to "social repression" of 1979

TEHRAN, Feb 13 (AFP) - In a rare criticism of Iran's top leaders, Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karubi warned Tuesday against a renewal of the "social repression" practised after the 1979 Islamic revolution and denounced state officials as "the source of the current insecurity."

"If we want security to reign in our country, we, the leaders, must revise our policies," said Mehdi Karubi, a close ally of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, cited by the official IRNA news agency.

Karubi, who was speaking to a Tehran gathering of some 300 security officials from across the country's 28 provinces, denounced the "violent and anti-popular methods" practised in the 1980s.

"There was a time when we thought that to establish security, we have to force the people to pray in the streets, to punish those who would shave their beards and who wore short-sleeved shirts," said Karubi, referring to the first years after the Islamic revolution.

"The regime's leaders are the source of the current insecurity in the country," Karubi charged, in an unusually harsh criticism of the regime's hardliners.

"Experience shows that pressure, prison and executions no longer suffice to establish security in a country," Karubi said, adding that to reinforce national security "the people should be the masters of society" and become politically active.

He also called "poverty and unemployment" two other major causes of insecurity in economically troubled Iran.

Karubi's remarks come just one day after Khatami reiterated his commitment to democratic values, accusing the country's powerful conservatives of regularly provoking "crises" in the country.

"The true masters of the country, the revolution and the Islamic regime are the men, the women and the youth," the popular president told the same gathering of security officials.

"If the people are deceived, no military, security or judicial force can control the situation," Khatami warned.


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