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Report: Nowruz Fete Plan Angers Guard; Regime Slams Obama Address

by DAN GEIST

23 Mar 2011 00:35Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

PersepolisMarching.jpg12:30 a.m., 3 Farvardin/March 23 Radio Zamaneh reports that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plan to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, at the ancient site of Persepolis is continuing "to divide the Islamic Republic establishment, causing extreme internal tension in the upper echelons of power." According to the report,
Iran's Revolutionary Guards commanders have expressed antagonism against the ceremony planned at Persepolis, the ruins of the Achamenid Palace in Shiraz. But today, Ayatollah Mohieddin Haeri Shirazi, a member of the Assembly of Experts announced that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has approved the plan.

The festivities, which have been organized by the office of the president, have attracted the criticism of Islamic Republic hardliners who maintain that celebrating at Persepolis would be an unwise reminder of the celebrations held there in 1973 by the last Iranian monarch [Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi], marking 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran.

The president's office has announced through its website for Norooz celebrations that the Supreme Leader's approval means there is no room for argument and the festivities in Persepolis will go on as planned.

The report also quoted Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Gholam Gheiratparvar's condemnation of the fact that the planned ceremony appears designed to promote nationalistic sentiment "instead of bringing people closer to our martyrs and their ideals." This debate is related to the controversy that erupted last August when Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and confidant, publicly advocated the promotion of the "Iranian school of thought" in implicit preference to the doctrines of Shiism.

Meanwhile, members of the Islamic Republic's regime have reacted strongly to U.S. President Barack Obama's Nowruz message to the Iranian people, in which he condemned the government's "campaign of intimidation and abuse" following the disputed 2009 presidential vote in which Ahmadinejad was reelected to a second term in office. Describing the members of Iran's government as concerned far more with maintaining their hold on power than with defending the rights of the country's citizens, Obama declared that "the future of Iran belongs to the young."

The semi-official Fars news agency quotes Khamenei from an address he made in Mashhad on Monday: "The real hypocrite is the US. With regards to Egypt they said we are with the [Egyptian] nation but they lied. They cooperated with the nation's enemy until the very last moment. They said the same thing about Tunis, that we support the people. Now the US president sends a message to the Iranian people that we support you."

The Fars report continues,

Ridiculing Obama's comparison of huge anti-government rallies at Cairo's Al-tahrir (liberation) square and a massive pro-government rally at Iran's Azadi (freedom) square on February 11, marking the 32nd anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution, the Leader said, ["]Yes, every year Iranians gather at [Tehran's] Azadi Square on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and their main slogan has remained 'death to America,'["] commonly referring to the US government.

The Leader then went on to add, "We don't know whether the current US president is mindful of what he is uttering, or if he is unconscious and confused."

Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that the American claim of supporting nations has always been a deception and not only they exercise no mercy on people of (our) region, they don't even show pity for their own people, since at the time of the US economic crisis, the current American president poured thousands of billions of dollars of American people's money into the coffers of arms-making and oil corporations.

KazemJalaliFile.jpgPress TV, the English-language subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, features a response from senior Majles deputy Kazem Jalali, a member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

"Instead of being concerned about certain blind moves inside Iran, the US president had better be concerned about the killings of innocent people in the region," Jalali said. "The wave of hatred of the United States is currently felt in the region and a dark future definitely awaits the Americans." He argued that Obama's message was a "blatant mistake...because the Islamic Republic of Iran is among democratic countries in the region. The Iranian nation supports the Islamic establishment."

In further New Year's news, Press TV reports that Iran has dropped plans for a Nowruz celebration at the session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York due to recent developments in the Middle East.

The report quotes Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei: "Iranian's Nowruz festivities which were supposed to be held on Saturday have been canceled to sympathize the Muslims in some of the regional countries who have been killed by the dictator rulers or foreign forces." Press TV specifically cites protests in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, focusing especially on the first two and connecting the situation in Bahrain with broader geopolitical issues: "The dispatch of troops from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies...has highlighted concerns about possible spillover of the uprising in the country, where month-old protest rallies seek to end the Western-backed government's monopoly on power."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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