Iranian voice of reform silenced Iran clergy ban Khatami paper Leading voice of reform silenced by Iran's clerics Iran's dissenting daily newspaper

Rupert Cornwell
Wednesday 04 August 1999 23:02

IN THE latest attack on President Mohammad Khatami, Iran's Special Court for Clergy banned the country's leading pro-reform newspaper for five years yesterday and suspended its publisher from journalism.

The Salam daily, which is close to the President, was banned for printing confidential documents. The publisher, Mohammad Mousavi-Khoeiniha, a prominent revolutionary cleric, was barred for three years.

The move came as some 50,000 members of the hardline Basij militia began what were described as "manoeuvres" in Tehran yesterday, as jockeying between Iran's moderates and conservatives ahead of next February's vital parliamentary election grew fiercer still.

Before taking to the streets the militiamen - an arm of the Revolutionary Guard controlled by Iran's clerical leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - made a symbolic pilgrimage across the city to the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the revolution that overthrew the Shah 20 years ago.

The exercises come three weeks after student protests across Tehran, which the Basijis played a crucial role in suppressing. Major-General Rahim Safavi, commander of the Revolutionary Guard, said the exercises are being held to deter any repeat of the disturbances - the worst in Iran since 1979.

But, the pro-democracy camp won a parliamentary vote that could curb the Council of Guardians, the conservative body that has a decisive say over laws passed by parliament and how elections to it are run.

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