Hardliners celebrate defeat of press

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The Independent Online

Iran's hardliners came out of the shadows yesterday to celebrate their weekend victory over a parliament dominated by reformers. Hundreds demonstrated on the campus of Tehran University, heartland of support for the reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Iran's hardliners came out of the shadows yesterday to celebrate their weekend victory over a parliament dominated by reformers. Hundreds demonstrated on the campus of Tehran University, heartland of support for the reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Outside the Majlis, Iran's parliament, hundreds more called for the expulsion of reformer MPs who opposed the intervention of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Many were in white shrouds, symbolising their readiness to die for the leader.

On Sunday, Mr Khamenei ordered parliament to abandon a proposed amendment that would have overturned the press law under which the popular reformist press has been silenced. It was the end of hispretence at neutrality in the power struggle between hardliners and liberal reformers.

Yesterday's hardline celebrations did not stop at parades: Ahmad Zeidabadi became the latest leading journalist to be arrested; another newspaper, the regional weekly Cheshmeh Ardebil, was banned.

But reformist MPs insisted that the press war was not over. They maintain they are entitled to propose a new, slightly different, amendment.

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