Thursday, July 22, 2004

Sombre atmosphere hangs over Iran reformists’ meeting

Daily Times - Site Edition

"Sombre atmosphere hangs over Iran reformists’ meeting

TEHRAN: Iran’s embattled reformists, ousted in parliamentary elections this year, kicked off the annual meeting of their main party on Wednesday in an atmosphere more like a funeral than a political rally.

The conference, held in leafy north Tehran, coincided with a public holiday marking the death Fatemeh Zahra, the daughter of the Muslim prophet, hence participants were mostly clad in black.

But the members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) had many other reasons for their sombre demeanour. Powerful regime hardliners barred most of them from even contesting February’s polls, banishing them into a tense political wilderness and paving the way for a conservative victory.

“The organising of the Majlis elections was an historical political about-turn,” IIPF leader Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of embattled President Mohammad Khatami, lamented in his opening speech.“This targeted Iran’s democracy (and) today we are facing censorship of the press.

This new wave of confronting the free press shows that there is a serious intention not to tolerate any voice of criticism,” he said in a speech that sounded like an obituary for the reformist movement."

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