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Cleric Warns Saudi King of Divine Punishment; Yazdi Denies Interview

07 Apr 2011 02:30Comments

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

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

2:30 a.m., 18 Farvardin/April 7 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani has sent a letter to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia denouncing his country's intervention in Bahrain. Golpayegani reminded the king that he is just one out of 1.5 billion Muslims and the only reason he has any credibility or recognition is that the two holiest Islamic places, Mecca and Medina, are in Saudi Arabia. The grand ayatollah asserted that he must order Saudi forces to leave Bahrain immediately to restore his damaged reputation, apologize to the people of Bahrain, and let them decide their own fate. Otherwise, warned Golpayegani, he will soon be punished by God.

Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi rejected the content of the interview with him that IRNA, the official Islamic Republic News Agency, posted on its website. He said that the conversation with IRNA's reporter took place while he was in detention -- implying that he conducted it under pressure -- and he had told the news agency that no interview with him could be published without his written permission. Because he never gave his consent, according to Yazdi, the interview has no credibility. He said that the only thing that he confirms is his one-line resignation from the post of secretary-general of the Liberation Movement of Iran, his political group. Yazdi sent the denial to IRNA, but the news agency claimed that he had actually confirmed the interview.

One day after Majles Speaker Ali Larijani warned the Ahmadinejad administration to implement the law establishing a Ministry of Sports, Mohammad Dehghan, another member of the parliamentary leadership, echoed the warning. He said, "We expect the government to execute the legislation approved by the Majles as soon as possible. Currently, we do not have any other organ for passing laws other than the Majles, and the executive branch exists only because of the Majles. Therefore, the laws must be respected by everyone and implemented by the executive." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is apparently opposed to the legislation. His administration has taken no steps toward establishing the ministry, nor has it put up a candidate for the ministerial post to face a legislative vote of confidence. Homayoun Hamidi, an aide to Ahmadinejad on sports issues, said that the president will personally decide when to implement the law.

Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi has opposed granting Abdollah Momeni a furlough. Spokesman for the Organization of Iranian University Graduates (Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), Momeni has been imprisoned since June 20, 2009. He has been granted no furlough in about a year, ever since he revealed that he was beaten and tortured in jail. He is also afflicted with a skin disease, but has not been granted any medical furlough, against the advice of the prison's doctors. Jafari Dolatabadi has also opposed granting furlough to journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouei.

Majles deputy Jamshid Ansari said that the rate of unemployment -- 10.9 percent -- announced by the Labor Ministry for the past Iranian year, which ended March 20, "has no credibility." Ansari said, according to his information the rate at the end of last summer was 15.5 percent and climbing. He also said that the official organ for estimating the rate of the unemployment is the Central Bank, which makes an estimation based on its evaluation of economic activity.

Majles deputy Mohammad Mehdi Mofatteh, spokesman for the legislature's budget commission, said that in its proposed budget the Ahmadinejad administration predicted $57.72 billion in income from oil exports in the current Iranian year, a figure the Majles reduced to $50 billion. This still represents a 15 percent increase over last year's budget, indicating a greater reliance on oil exports. The government has anticipated that the average oil price will be $80 per barrel.

Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and confidant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei has enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Tarbiyat Modarres. He has enrolled for eight units in the field of international law. He was previously set to enroll at the International University of Chah Bahar in southeast Iran, but that created a controversy as the school is far from Tehran.

Clerics and seminary students held a gathering in Tehran to protest what is going on in Bahrain. Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, newly elected head of the Assembly of Experts, took part in the event. Mojtaba Zolnour, a cleric who is deputy to Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that this gathering is being held to help the voice of the repressed people of Bahrain be heard by the world. Concurrently, 200 Majles deputies issued a statement, read in legislative session, that demanded all foreign forces leave Bahrain immediately.

Hamid Reza Fouladgar, Majles representative to the Article 10 Commission, which monitors political groups, declared that Mehdi Karroubi's National Trust Party can become active again only if cuts all ties with him. Karroubi founded the party in 2005 and is its secretary-general. Fouladgar said that Karroubi is an influential member of the "recent sedition" -- that is, the Green Movement -- and, therefore, given current conditions the party cannot continue its activities. Rasoul Montajabnia, the party's deputy secretary-general, said that before any decision can be made, the party's congress must meet and hold elections for its central committee. The government, however, is not allowing the party to organize such a meeting.

Jahan News, the website run by hardline Majles deputy and Ahmadinejad supporter Alireza Zakani, claimed that Mir Hossein Mousavi was permitted to participate in his father's funeral, but chose not to. Jahan News similarly claimed that Mousavi was allowed to hold memorials for his father, but refused. Mousavi's family canceled the traditional Islamic memorial on the third day after his father's death under pressure by the security forces.

Meysam Mohammadi, former editor of Kalemeh Sabz, the daily published by Mousavi before the 2009 presidential election, was released from prison. Mohammadi, an academic, was arrested two months ago.

Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, commander of the national police, claimed that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter organize the "offenders," meaning political activists. He said that the two tools of mass media organize unhappy people and foreign intelligence agents. Ahmadi Moghaddam made his claim while Internet speed in the country has been dramatically reduced by the government in order to render the social networks ineffective. He said that because much of the police force has been dedicated to confronting political protests, such crimes as murder, kidnapping, and robbery have increased significantly.

Iran's Defense Minister, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, responded to British Defense Minister William Fox's recent statement about developments in the region. According to Fox, "If Iran comes out as the winner of the developments in the region, it will be dangerous not only for the region, but also for the world." Vahidi said that instead of making such awful statements that only increase public hatred, British officials should apologize to the people of the region and not do anything further against their interests. He said that "the West makes contradictory statements. On the one hand, they said that the developments are for democracy, but on the other hand they say that if Iran is the winner world security will be threatened. If the developments in the region are toward democracy, what are they afraid of?"

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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