an area of the map for world news.
March 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 3)
World Press Review Correspondent
The latest attack
of conservative Islamic hardliners against reformist supporters
of Irans president, Mohammad Khatami, is a corruption
charge against 60 unnamed members of the reformist-dominated
Parliament. On Dec. 31, 2001, a conservative judge ordered the
arrest of Hossein Loghmanian, a reformist MP from Hamadan, for
calling the conservative judiciary a ruin.
students hold up a protrait of Hamadani MP Hossein Loghmanian
and shout slogans protesting his arrest during a gathering
held Dec. 30, 2001, in the western city of Hamadan (Photo:
Mehdi Karrubi, speaker of the Parliament, called the arrest
an assault against the sovereignty of the legislative
branch by the judiciary, and for three weeks every session
of Parliament was about how to gain Loghmanians release.
On Jan. 14, five representatives from Hamadan walked out in
support of their colleague, and two days later Karrubi threatened
not to preside over Parliament sessions if Loghmanian remained
in jail. The pressure finally forced Irans Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to interfere and pardon Loghmanian on
As the reformists fought for Parliaments independence,
the hard-liners media started a smear campaign against
the reformists. A headline in the main conservative mouthpiece,
Kayhan, read: The involvement of 60 MPs in a corruption
case (Jan. 1). The article accused 60 unnamed MPs of receiving
bribes from Shahram Jazayeri, a 30-year-old businessman.
The conservative press has portrayed Jazayeri as the central
figure in a campaign against corruption that started in July
2001. The campaign, begun on the orders of Ayatollah Khamenei,
is supposed to investigate and prosecute Iranians involved in
bribery and embezzlement, regardless of political affiliation.
But according to the newspaper Norooz, whose writers
are the most prominent members of the reform
movement, The campaign against corruption has become
an alibi for the hard-liners to suppress the reform movement
in the country (Jan. 3).
Noroozs publisher is reformist MP Mohsen Mirdamadi,
who as a student radical took part in the 1979 siege on the
U.S. Embassy in Tehran where 52 Americans were held hostage
for 444 days. In an interview with Norooz reporters, Mirdamadi,
head of Parliaments National Security and Foreign Affairs
Committee, said that the hard-liners crisis committee,
which was responsible for killing a number of intellectuals
a few years ago, is the mastermind behind the new attacks against
the reformists (Jan. 3).
Hossein Shariatmadari, who was named by the Supreme Leader as
Kayhans publisher, reveled in the fact that his
newspapers headline caused such a stir. In a typically
long editorial titled Dont Panic. This Is Just the
Beginning, Shariatmadari warned reformist representatives
that Kayhan is not afraid of these Don Quixotes
and will carry on its struggle against those who are stealing
from the people (Jan. 2).
Noroozs Jan. 2 editorial called Kayhans
criticism the biggest honor for the reformist Parliament.
It said that the accusations are only the beginning of a five-step
strategy to shut down Parliament: 1. Spread rumors against
the Parliament; 2. Show trial of Jazayeri where he will testify
against some MPs; 3. Create a hostile atmosphere against the
Parliament; 4. Stage... demonstrations against the Parliament;
and 5. Solve the problem of the Parliament in another
so-called move on behalf of the people.