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Iranian Hard-Liners Face Fall of Regime (AP) By Ali Akbar Dareini TEHRAN, Iran 12/10/02 7:59 PM)Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37013-2002Dec10.html AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
TEHRAN, Iran –– Iran´s Islamic establishment may face the same fate as the country´s deposed shah if student calls for reform keep being ignored, the leader of Iran´s largest reformist group said in comments reported Tuesday.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, who heads the Islamic Iran Participation Front, said Iranian students will "break from the establishment" if they feel their calls for reform are being ignored.

"The main reason for the fall of the former (monarchial) regime was its resistance against student calls for freedom and justice," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khatami, who is also the younger brother of Iran´s pro-reformist president, as saying.

Students were among the first segments of Iranian society to oppose the policies of the pro-western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Clerics later joined the protests, which snowballed into the 1979 revolution led by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Under Khomeini´s rule, and that of his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, conservative clergymen have taken control of vital institutions – like the police and judiciary – and thwarted the political and social reforms pursued by President Mohammad Khatami.

Thousands of students have been taking to Tehran´s streets since November to protest a death sentence against university professor Hashem Aghajari, who was found guilty of questioning the rule of hard- line clerics.

On many occasions, student demonstrations have turned into strong criticisms of Iran´s hard-liners.

IRNA quoted reformist lawmaker Ahmad Shirzad as saying that four students arrested during protests in Tehran and the central Iranian city of Isfahan in recent weeks remained in jail without trial.

The agency also said Iran´s reformist-dominated parliament had decided to launch a probe into circumstances of Aghajari´s death sentence.

Lawmaker Hossein Ansari-Rad said a parliamentary committee was studying a complaint from Aghajari, saying the judge who issued the verdict was not independent, IRNA reported.

In a fresh blow to hard-liners, the judiciary spokesman Hossein Mir- Mohammad Sadeqi has resigned to protest the death sentence, it was reported Tuesday.

"I don´t favor the verdict at all. I´m sorry for the negative impacts of the sentence on the country," the agency quoted Sadeqi as saying.

Sadeqi said he lodged his resignation 10 days ago, but judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohmoud Hashemi Shahroudi has not accepted it. (© 2002 The Associated Press 12/10/02)

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