Iran Conservatives: Reformers Will Pay After Poll
February 06, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran's conservatives, in chilling warnings, have told their reformist opponents they will pay dearly for the country's political crisis once February 20 parliamentary elections are over.
"Those executive officials who want to resign close to the time of the election should be dealt with like the enemies of God," hardline editor Hossein Shariatmadari wrote in his Kayhan evening newspaper earlier this month.
Under Iranian law, the charge is similar to blasphemy and carries the death penalty.
The reformists have seen the conservative-controlled Guardians Council vetting body bar thousands of their candidates from the poll.
They believe they could lose control of government and parliament if the election goes ahead and have called for it to be postponed. Some 120 MPs, who held a sit-in in parliament, have resigned, along with provincial governors and some ministers and deputy ministers.
Massoud Jazahiri, spokesman for the regime's ideological shocktroops, the Revolutionary Guards, warned those who had strongly protested against the mass banning of would-be candidates that they "will have to answer to the people's tribunal".
He said "MPs who organised a sit-in and made counter-revolutionary speeches insulting the values of Islam have written the blackest pages in the history of parliament".
For conservatives, the Guardians Council just did its Islamic, revolutionary and constitutitional duty when, during validation of prospective candidates, it disqualified more than 3,000 out of 8,000 for lack of respect for Islam and the constitution.
The Council denies any bias, although most of the barred candidates -- including some 80 sitting MPs and prominent figures -- were reformists.
Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, head of the 12-member Guardians Council, said it had never "cast a political look" on the candidates' files and had only applied Islamic law.
News of the banning on January 11 provoked what many see as the worst political crisis in the Islamic republic since it was founded in 1979.
In a bid to resolve the struggle, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the Council to review its blacklist, resulting in the reinstatement of around 1,300 candidates but not ending the political conflict.
Reformists see the banning as the culmination of a "parliamentary coup d'etat", planned over two years, to eliminate them. Conservatives see the hand of foreign enemies behind their opponents.
Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told some 1,800 Friday-prayer imams late on Thursday: "A foreign conspiracy has been drawn up and a certain number of people were hoping that foreigners would intervene in their favour ... Shame be on those who have opened the way to foreigners."
Khamenei, whom the conservatives regard as one of their own, said on Wednesday that the elections could not be delayed even one day. They must go ahead as scheduled, on February 20, "to preserve the country and system against plots, and thwart the enemies of Islam and of the Islamic republic", he said.
Iran's "enemies" are traditionally the Americans and the Israelis.
Khamenei said "enemies of the republic" were "encouraging certain officials of the executive to step down from their posts", and they had also "infiltrated parliament".
"The strategy of the enemy is to prevent the February 20 elections from taking place," he said, adding that both sides in the crisis were "resisting" heavy pressure."The government and the people will foil this plot."
Reinforced by Khamenei's words, the conservatives, who control the security forces, have ratcheted up their threats.
"Hindering of the electoral process, by any government body, constitutes a violation of legal and religious duties and will thus be viewed as a criminal act and bring prosecution," warned Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, head of the Iranian judiciary.
On Friday, just two weeks from the scheduled election date, the chief editor of the hardline Resalaat paper, Mohamad Kazem Anbarloui, told the congregation in a mosque in Iran's clerical capital of Qom: "Those current MPs whose qualifications have been rejected by the Guardians Council are US spies and were implementing US rules instead of Islamic rules." http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=22363&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs