Photo: AP
Khatami, running for president?
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AP
Ebadi, accused of supporting Israel
Photo: AP
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Photo: AFP

Report: Iran using Gaza op to push out reformists

Persian reformist newspaper accuses Ahmadinejad government of using Palestinian problem 'as weapon' against reformist bodies after shutting down newspaper accused of reporting misinformation about Palestinian fighters in Gaza

"The Iranian government headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using the excuse of 'defending the Palestinians' as a weapon to act against civil bodies," Roozonline, a Persian reformist newspaper said.


According to the report, one of the actions taking by the Iranian government recently was the banning of the country's leading reformist newspaper Kargozaran, which is linked to one of Ahmadinejad's most prominent political rivals, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.


The government accused Kargozaran of reporting misinformation about Palestinian fighters in Gaza.


In addition, on Thursday, dozens of students belonging to the Basij movement, which is subordinate to the Revolutionary Guards, protested outside of human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi's home and accused her of sympathizing with Israel.


Two days prior to the demonstration Ebadi had published a statement condemning the killing of Palestinian civilians. The demonstrators sprayed graffiti on the walls of her house insinuating that Ebadi was a spy for the United States.


In the past Ebadi has expressed support of Ahmadinejad's most threatening political rival, former president and reformist Mohammad Khatami.


Khatami has not yet officially announced his candidacy, but has indicated in recent months that it was a possibility.


So far, the only politician to join the race for Iran's upcoming presidential elections is former Chairman of the Parliament Mehdi Karroubi, who is also a reformist.


“The crackdowns are all part of the efforts to prevent Mr. Khatami from winning the elections,” said Farzaneh Roostai, the foreign editor of the daily newspaper Etemad.


“All the groups which support Khatami in one way or another are faced with increasing pressure now in order to force them to back down,” she added. “They are increasing the price for their political activities.”


Although Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, has repeatedly backed Ahmadinejad in public speeches, the president may not receive full support from the conservative camp.


Since Majlis elections last year, criticism from within the conservative camp against the president has risen partly in light of his failed economic policies that have lead to increased inflation and unemployment in the country.


According to Roozonline, Ahmadinejad's next step is to target student unions, and mainly those that stand out for their political activism in the reformist camp, in an attempt to push them to the sidelines ahead of presidential elections on June 12.


פרסום ראשון: 01.05.09, 18:04
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