LEADER LASHES OUT AGAINST REFORMIST PRESS

TEHERAN 20TH Apr. (IPS) Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i declared open war with the Iranian thriving reformist and moderate press that he considers as his most implacable antagonist and gave the green light to the Judiciary for their closure by describing them as "a base for the enemy.

Speaking to a crowd of young Basijis (voluntaries) all dressed in black shirts and bussed by the authorities to the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's prayer ground, a mass estimated at more than 200.000 by Tehran Radio while the place can hardly accommodate 20.000 people, the lamed and belittled leader of the Islamic Republic said the enemy has build a stronghold inside the country thanks to a segment of the press.

Ayatollah Khameneh'i had fired the first salvo of his anti-reformist press last Friday when he publicly threatened them with what he coined as "legal violence".

That remarks were followed by an astonishing communiqué attributed to the Revolutionary Guards menacing the reformists with a "lightening coup".

Throwing down the gauntlet and letting his heart speak his deep hate against Iranian nationalism, forgetting not that the reformists had swept the great majority of next 290-seats Majles (parliament) thanks to their electoral slogan of "Iran for all Iranians" against that of "Islam and Imam's Line" adopted by the defeated conservatives, Mr Khameneh'i complained that some of the newspapers inside the country are performing the same task as that of BBC, Voice of America and Zionist radio stations.

''It looks like that 10 to 15 papers are being guided by one same centre. Similar headlines for same issues. They magnify small incidents. They put on titles that whoever reads them would imagine that everything in the country has been forsaken, lost. They kill hopes among the youth, weaken the confidence of people in the country's officials, insults and offends the nation's very basic foundations. I do not know who and where their model is? Even the Western press is not like them. This is a kind of press charlatanism adopted by some segments of our press today,'' Mr. Khameneh'i observed.

Continuing his diatribe against the pro-reform press" Mr. Khameneh'i said that he is "suffering" from some phenomena taking place inside the country, explaining that in a world that sets patterns of journalism for some of our newspapers, if an official, a minister, even a president commits theft, perpetrates a criminal act or takes bribe, the press discloses with headlines but do not attack their country's' constitution, do not insult the parliament. They may criticise the approved bills but they never make hue and cry over it. They (the Iranian reformist press) have gone one step ahead than the main architects of these methods".

"The Constitution and main policies are insulted. Small issues are blown up. Every incident is good for filling the atmosphere with libel. A terrorist act takes place and front page banners accuses the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, the clergy and this while there is no information about it and no clue has been found about the people involved. What is the objective behind these things? Why are they against the Basij forces?'' he asked in a deliberate effort to provoke his audience against the moderate press.

Putting on an innocent mask, Mr. Khameneh'i assured that he was not willing to speak so frankly and at such a length about some segments of the press but he was forced to do it, noting that President Mohammad Khatami is also upset at these newspapers

"I talked to the president and heard that the president had summoned in some publishers and gave some guidelines, but I' am not sure whether advice will be effective,'' Ayatollah Khameneh'i wondered.

However, he cautioned his Basiji "children" against taking the law into their own hands, teling them he would "never" allow them to do such things. "I strongly advise you never take any measure against the law for the sake of your noble sentiments or in support for the innocent leader", he warned.

''You should notice that it is not difficult for enemy to create tension in the country. It can send four mercenaries among the committed and honest Revolutionary Guards or the Hezbollah or the Basij under the pretext of supporting the leadership or under the pretext that the leader has been left alone and stir riot and unrest in the country. Be aware of infiltrators,'' Mr. Khameneh'i reiterated.

Though he commented and praised several time the personality and the work of the President whom he described as "a true Muslim, follower of the imam, propagator of the Faith", but complained from the middle rank officials.

He then went on playing his favourite anti-American tune and once against repeated his total opposition to any dialogue with the United States, accusing the press and some reformists to make people believe that normalising with Washington would solve all Iran's economic problems

"There is only one country, one nation and one government in the world which has not submitted to this pressure. We have nothing to do with America. But we are not prepared to surrender to bullying, to pressure and to the imposition of policies or bilateral relations. We are not prepared to surrender. That country is the Islamic Republic of Iran

Warning against conspiracies of the "global arrogant powers" spearheaded by the United States, Mr. Khameneh'i said that Washington is attempting to hatch plots against Iran through its radio stations, "like what it did in a number of countries including Eastern European nations.

"Unfortunately, the same enemy which has tried to mislead the public opinion of different countries through its radio stations has set up a base inside our country,'' he noted.

Lashing out at globalisation as a pretext for domination by the West, Ayatollah Khameneh'i said globalisation means that a group of world powers, a number of countries - mainly those who have influence over the UN and mainly those countries which have been colonialists in the past - want to expand their culture, economy and traditions throughout the world.

"They want to set up a share-holding company in which they should hold 95 per cent of its shares while the rest of the countries of the world have 5 per cent. They want to have authority. They want to make decisions. That is what globalisation means", he said, pointing out that they have their eyes on Iran's markets. They have their eyes on Iran's resources. That is what they want. That is their objective. Their intention is not healthy relations, even though this is what they imply in their propaganda

"Certain people, unfortunately, in Iran and in the press and through other channels repeat those words, as if all economic problems of our country will be solved through ties with America . This is a lie. This is untrue", he observed.

As he was addressing the crowd, Tehran Radio announced that upon orders from the leader, all those who did participated in a conference held recently in Berlin were summoned by the Islamic Revolution Court.

Quoting an unidentified high ranking official from the Court, the Radio said those people, a group of reformist journalists, secular lawyers and scholars, moderate cleric and political analysts were summoned accused of insulting sacred values of Islam and activities against the Constitution and the State.

More than 140 conservative deputies in parliament, in a petition sent to the leader, accused the group of "treachery" and called on the authorities to take action against them for attending the conference organised by the Heinrich Boll Institute debating Issues after the parliamentary elections.

The conservative press, spearhead by "Keyhan", the mouthpiece of the Intelligence Ministry and Iranian secret services campaigned for more than two weeks against all the participants in the seminar, particularly against Hojatoleslam hasan yusefi-Eshkevari, an Islamist reformist and Mr. Akbar Ganji, the prominent journalist who disclosed former president hashemi Rafsanjani and his Intelligence minister, Hojatoleslam Ali Fallahian in the assassination of more than 80 Iranian dissident scholars, intellectuals and politicians..

Mr. Ganji, a Moslem intellectual, has been labelled an apostate by arch-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi and a "mercenary of foreign powers" by religious extremists. Apostasy carries the death penalty in Iran.

Hard line newspapers have demanded that Mr. Yusefi-Eshkevari be defrocked.

"We resent the Berlin conference and it's undignified participants, and call on the judiciary to take action against these traitors," the conservative press urged.

The anti-Berlin Conference took a violent turn after the State-run Television which is controlled by Mr. Khameneh'i screened a provocative documentary about the meeting showing some protesters dancing and taking off their clothes.

The documentary stirred strong protest from the reformist press and circles but also from the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri who from his residence in Qom condemned the malicious and deliberate action attributed to Mr. Ali Larijani, the leader-appointed Genera Director of the Voice and Visage of Islamic Republic (VVIR, or Iranian Radio and Television)

"Larijani in impass…"People expressed revulsion at the provocative TV documentary", "The VVIR General Director bears resonsability for stirring confusion and encouraging violence".. were some of the reformist dailies banners, as political parties and organisations supporting the president strongly attacked the ill-fated initiative.

As the battle line are now drawn clearly, all eyes are turned toward President Khatami who during the past two weeks has kept a religious silence.

"Probably, this is the best position he has adopted", said one analyst in Tehran, explaining that knowing the intentions of the conservatives, Mr. Khatami "has to bear all pressures, humiliations and provocation in order to have the next reformist-dominated Majles inaugurated" ENDS KHAMENEH'I PRESS 20400