Iranian conservatives step up attacks on reformers
TEHRAN, April 22 (AFP) - An impeachment bill against a key minister,
pressure on the press, the jailing of a liberal cleric -- these are just
the latest attacks on Iran's reform movement by the conservative regime.
Political tensions, already high for several weeks, reached a new crescendo
Wednesday with the submission to parliament of a censure motion against
Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani.
The minister and government spokesman, who is close to reformist President
Mohammad Khatami, is responsible for much of the relaxation of press and
artistic restrictions in Iran over the past two years.
Mohajerani was given 10 days to explain himself to parliament and to
solicit a new vote of confidence.
The conservative-dominated parliament is critical of his supervision
of the press and growth of "vulgar movies" during his term in
office, according to the official IRNA news agency.
His alleged sins also include "encouraging establishment of relations
with the United States ... harming the national unity ... and insult against
various institutions," IRNA said.
Last year the same parliament cast out another Khatami lieutenant,
interior minister Abdollah Nuri, who was stripped of his duties for having
"increased insecurity" in the country.
The 31 parliamentarians supporting the Mohajerani censure motion accuse
the minister of "closing his eyes to subversive activities" by
They singled out certain publications "which blatantly propagandize
monarchy, corruption and prostitution," while attacking the "revolution,
the Islamic republic and its fundamental principles."
Above all, he allowed moderation newspapers to promote the resumption
of relations with the United States, they said.
Some of the charges refer to the case of Faezeh Hashemi, an MP and
daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose moderate Zan
newspaper was suspended two weeks ago for publishing a new year's message
from ex-empress Farah Diba.
In another blow to reformers Wednesday, liberal cleric and university
professor Mohsen Kadivar was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a special,
ultra-conservative clerical court.
Kadivar, who was convicted of spreading propaganda hostile to Iran's
Islamic regime, is considered a leading light of the reform movement in
He was detained in February for writing a number of articles calling
for political life in the Islamic republic to have more autonomy from religion.
Kadivar, who is Mohajerani's brother-in-law, vigorously last week the
charges laid against him by the court during the only session of his trial.
However, the judiciary, like parliament, is run by conservatives.
Parliament also decided in principle to remove the influential, pro-Khatami
Hamshahri newspaper from the direct control of Tehran's liberal city hall,
paving the way for a possible takeover by conservatives.
Meanwhile, former Tehran mayor and reformer Gholamhossein Karbaschi
filed a fresh request Wednesday for a review of his corruption trial, which
would mean a suspension of his two-year sentence, said his lawyer Bahman
The supreme court rejected a previous appeal Tuesday, but he remains
free under judicial supervision for now.
The conservatives, who rely on the strict positions taken by Iran's
supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have said recently that the "internal
enemy" is more dangerous than any adversary abroad.
Iran's moderate president, who has been trying to swim against the
conservative tide, called Saturday for "freedom of opposition"
so long as it remains within the framework of the law and respect for religious