Monitor: Comment on the student riots and media repression in Iran

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The Independent Culture
AYATOLLAH ALI Khamenei, is said to be anguished by attacks on the students by the police and vigilantes. His responses suggest that the highest authorities may be sympathetic towards the students' goals, if not their techniques. That is a sign of hope. The students are pushing the cause for reform against the forces of conservatism. What happens to them will help determine the outcome of President Khatami's ambitious agenda for the country. Iran must not let itself down by denying support to the students who have put their lives on the line to further the cause of reform.

The Straits Times, Malaysia

STUDENT AGITATION in Tehran was triggered by the banning of a moderate newspaper. The controversy over press freedom is part of a larger and growing clash within the ranks of Iran's establishment. The conservatives, fighting a last-ditch battle to forestall the process of reform and liberalisation in Iran, were comprehensively beaten in the municipal elections held in February, and they are now, perhaps, desperate to reinforce the authoritarian institutions well in time before the crucial parliamentary election next spring.

Times of India

WHILE RESERVING their rights to go on a one-day strike in protest to the closure of the daily Salam, the press will give the government and the Special Clerics Court (SCC) time to make their promises. This ultimatum can prove the power of the print media. The media is a counter balance to the power of state. All of this signals that Iran remains a long way from enjoying the sort of genuine democratic participation taken for granted in the West that Mr Khatami has been attempting to foster. The detention since February of 13 Iranian Jews, accused of spying for the United States and Israel, has also been interpreted as an attempt by conservatives to embarrass and undermine Mr Khatami. All of this underlines the remoteness of a genuine rapprochement between Iran and the West in the foreseeable future.

The Age, Australia

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