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Iran Crackdown Widens on Eve of Disputed Poll

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    Iran Crackdown Widens on Eve of Disputed Poll

    Yet again, as we search for a single positive example of theocratic rule that satisfies the legitimate expectations of a people for freedom and democracy, the despotic example of Iran blocks our vision.


    TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - A hard-line crackdown on Iran's reform movement widened Thursday on the eve of a disputed parliamentary election when prosecutors sealed a campaign office of the main reformist party and blocked its news Web site.

    It followed the closing of the two most outspoken reformist newspapers Wednesday for reporting an unprecedented scathing open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei by dozens of reformist lawmakers banned from Friday's election.

    "They are blocking our channels of communication with the people," Ali Shakourirad, one of the deputies and a leading member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, told Reuters.

    The party is boycotting the election, which it says was rigged when an unelected clerical watchdog disqualified more than 2,500 mainly reformist candidates. A further 1,179 contenders have since withdrawn from the race, the Interior Ministry said.

    Criticizing the absolute Islamic leader is an offense and the Supreme National Security Council had ordered newspapers not to report the six-page letter in which deputies accused Khamenei of presiding over a system that trampled on people's rights.

    The Yas-e No and Sharq dailies, and the Rouydad Web site were shut down when they disobeyed.

    Without directly mentioning the latest crackdown, pro-reform President Mohammad Khatami warned of the risk of despotism.

    In a speech to intellectuals and scientists Thursday, carried by the official IRNA news agency, Khatami said freedom meant people had the right to choose.

    "Despotism and imposition of ideas will bring no result except corruption, but freedom and an open atmosphere, while it may do some harm, will cultivate virtue," he said.


    Issa Saharkhiz, a reformist journalist and former deputy culture minister, told Reuters he expected hard-liners to ban more newspapers and possibly outlaw the Participation Front, led by the president's brother, Mohammad Reza Khatami, and another reformist group, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Revolution Party.
    This move is part of a plan to restrict the press. I even expect them to declare the parties illegal," he said.
    "What they are doing is a continuation of a nonmilitary coup begun in parliament, another dimension of the parliamentary coup d'etat in the press."

    Iran's conservatives, who have successfully stifled most of Khatami's efforts at political and social reform since his 1997 election, appear set to recapture parliament amid widespread public indifference.

    The election is being held against the background of new controversy over Iran's nuclear program, which the United States says is aimed at producing weapons but which Tehran insists is purely peaceful.

    Iran denied Thursday it was building centrifuges that could make weapons-grade nuclear fuel at a military base in Tehran after diplomats in Vienna said U.N. inspectors found undeclared parts for an advanced centrifuge.
    "I met the surgeon general - he offered me a cigarette. " --Rodney Dangerfield

    The day the people truly revolt against these guys, these clerics would be running for their lives. what goes around comes around, the clerics led the same against the shah with a banner that he was corrupt and not a representative leader, which is the same position these guys are in. This may not happen right now.. but it will happen, one way or the other.

    watchout ayotollahs..
    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.