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Reformist party slams closure of moderate paper

TEHRAN, April 15 (AFP) - The Executives of Construction Party, Iran's main reformist political group, slammed Thursday the banning of a popular moderate newspaper as a "plot" to block President Mohammad Khatami's reform agenda.

The party criticized the "disinformation and fuss" against the director of Zan (Woman) newspaper, Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

It warned that the closure of Zan just over a week ago "prepares the ground for the elimination of competent figures" before next year's parliamentary elections, according to the official news agency IRNA.

Tehran's revolutionary court ordered Zan's suspension for publishing a new year message from ex-empress Farah, the wife of the ousted shah, and accused it of committing "counter-revolutionary" acts.

The Executives of Construction called on Iranians to "exercise viligance to prevent the disruption of the political atmosphere... by those who use the blade of tyranny and deceit under false pretexts."

Iran's press, which has been flourishing since the election of moderate President Mohammad Khatami in May 1997, has come under mounting attack from powerful conservative forces in recent months.


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