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Daughter of former Iranian president to appear before revolutionary court

TEHRAN, April 11 (AFP) - Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is to appear before a revolutionary court for publishing a new year's message from the widow of the ousted Shah of Iran in her newspaper, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.

The Tehran revolutionary court ruled Sunday that it was competent to hear a case against Hashemi, a leading moderate MP and director of the moderate daily Zan (Woman), IRNA said.

Hashemi is accused of carrying out a "counter-revolutionary act and propaganda on behalf of the monarchy" for having publishing the message from ex-empress Farah Diba to mark last month's Iranian new year.

In a statement, the Tehran court said the "publication of this message constitutes support for the monarchy," banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Zan, which supports reformist President Mohammad Khatami, was suspended from publication on Tuesday by the Tehran revolutionary court. Hashemi lashed out at hardliners in the Islamic Republic on Sunday accusing them of "representing nothing."

Speaking in parliament, the daughter of former president Rafsanjani accused the conservative-dominated judiciary which ordered the suspension of her paper of being "absolutely wrong and unfair."

She said the conservatives, who make up the majority in the assembly, "represent nothing and have no relationship whatsoever with the revolution or its values."

Hashemi was mainly referring to judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who accused her paper of committing a "counter-revolutionary" act.

Zan has also come under fire for running a caricature satirizing blood money. Under Islamic law, penalties are weaker for the killing of a woman, on purpose or accidentally, than for causing the death of a man. The moderate-led culture ministry Thursday had challenged the competence of the revolutionary court in the Zan case, stressing that press offenses "should be dealt with by the press court in open session and the presence of a jury."

It urged the judiciary to "respect the freedom of writing and safeguard the boundaries of press freedom," while calling on the paper to apologize. Hashemi's speech sparked a harsh reaction from conservative MPs, who booed her. Several conservative MPs and clerics demanded her expulsion.

Some 100 women also staged a protest outside parliament against Hashemi on Sunday demanding her expulsion from parliament and chanting hostile slogans.

Hashemi said Wednesday that Zan's closure by the Tehran revolutionary court was part of an offensive by the conservative-run justice department against moderates.

The regime's conservatives have stepped up their attacks on moderates and reformers in recent weeks following February municipal elections that saw a sweeping victory for the reformist camp.


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