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April 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 4)
Furor over Speech
World Press Review correspondent
State of the Union address, in which he declared that Iran,
North Korea, and Iraq form an axis of evil, was
condemned by all factions of the Iranian political spectrum.
A great number of reformists believe that his comments could
set back the pace of reforms in the country.
Khatami called Bush's speech "insulting" (Photo:
For days prior to the speech, the confrontation between Iranian
reformists and hard-liners had reached new heights over issues
such as financial corruption, arrest of pro-reform activists,
and expulsion of hard-line Afghan groups, which oppose Hamid
Karzais interim government in Afghanistan.
It seemed that the reformists were winning a few battles in
their war against conservatives, who control the army and judiciary.
But after Bushs speech, Iran-U.S. relations became the
main topic of political discussions in Iran, and various groups
in the country became united against what [President Mohammad]
Khatami called an insult against all Iranians.
The reformist press printed a series of articles citing Israeli
pressure as the main reason for Bushs new approach to
A day after the speech, on Jan. 30, the organ of the main reformist
partyParticipation FrontNowruz (New Day),
quoted Khatami: The American nation should ask its politicians
to stop waging wars and use their immense possibilities to have
a just peace in the world.
The main hard-liners mouthpiece Kayhan (Universe)
(Feb. 4) quoted Irans supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
saying that the Iranian nation will have a harsh response
for the United States. Kayhans ultra-hard-line
editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, agreed with the reformists that
Bushs comments were made under the pressure of Zionists,
and he added (Jan. 31) that the United States wants to
wage war and get out of the economic crisis which is engulfing
Within a few days after Bushs speech, it was obvious that
the Iranian conservatives had managed to consolidate their forces
and had used the opportunity to portray the reformists as Americas
fifth column in Iran.
In his editorial in Kayhan (Feb. 4), Shariatmadari snapped
that Americans regard the obligatory veil for women, the
execution of drug dealers, and forbidding alcohol...as human-rights
violations. If you (reformists) dont believe in the basic
values of the Islamic Republic, what is the difference between
you and the Americans? In addition, Kayhan featured
many anti-American headlines, including a call to Iranians to
show force on the 23rd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution
(Feb. 11). Iran will have a harsh response for the United
States, the paper warned (Feb. 9).