PARIS, 17 Feb. (IPS) The fire at a big Tehran mosque, the over fly of Iranian sky by foreign drones and a mysterious explosion near the nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr are all “signals” heralding incoming operations for toppling the Iranian theocracy, Iranians say in the streets.
Five days after a fire at a big and historic mosque in south Tehran killed at least 60 people and injured another 350, the clerical authorities, instead of explaining what caused the fire, have ordered the media not to carry any news about the drama.
According to some officials, the cause of the fire was a kerosene heater that was placed too close to a tent covering the ceiling of the two-story mosque.
Basic safety rules were ignored, including the installation of the kerosene heaters.
Eyewitnesses, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the huge tent, installed to save worshippers from the biting winter cold had been reinforced with paraffin.
“Hundreds of worshipers, many of them women praying on the second floor in order to be separated from men, were injured when they jumped from second-floor or trying to get out from a narrow stairway’, some witnesses told the media.
Others said they saw a woman; whose chador had caught fire by a heater had panicked, throwing out her veil on the tent.
General Morteza Tala’i, the Commander of Tehran police said "basic safety rules" were ignored, including the installation of the kerosene heater, the official Iranian News Agency IRNA reported on the fire.
But in the absence of any official account, Iranians in general think that the fire, far from being accidental, is the beginning of America’s operations aimed at toppling the present theocracy.
In their inauguration speeches, both President George W. Bush and his new Secretary of State Department tagged the Islamic Republic as a “tyrannical regime” and assured the Iranian people of Washington’s support for their struggle for democracy and freedom.
“This is the first mosque to be set ablaze and this is the beginning”, said a young Iranian who arrived in Paris on Wednesday.
“This is an American operation to change the regime”, he went on, adding that the explosion in Bandar Daylam and the drones overlying Iranian skies are also part of the operations.
He was referring to a mysterious explosion that the Arabic service of the Iranian State-run, conservatives-controlled Radio and Television known as “al Aalam” (the World) said was caused by a missile.
The short and laconic news immediately became a big headline, with some international news agencies speculating that it might have come from a foreign plane targeting the Bushehr nuclear installations, situation 150 kilometers from the site of the explosion.
Though authorities immediately denied any incident on Bushehr while officials in Tehran explained that it was the work of road construction in the area, but the news made the oil prices jumping up for few hours.
A day earlier, Hojjatoleslam Ali Younesi, the Information (Intelligence) Minister had indirectly confirmed a “Washington Post” news that the United States is flying drones over some sensitive parts of Iran in search of sites where the regime might use for the construction of nuclear weapons.
"After having crushed and killed the reforms the Iranians had put all their hopes for a smooth change of the present system, after taking the control of the Majles (parliament) with dubious methods and now preparing to grab also the presidency, one can be sure that the Iranians would not raise in support of the regime they hate more than ever", one source had told Iran Press Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.
This is an American operation to change the regime, travellers say, adding that the explosion in Bandar Daylam and the drones overlying Iranian skies are also part of the operations.
He was reacting to assertions from some Iranian and Western experts and diplomats that any attack on Iran would mobilize the population in support of the ruling ayatollahs, as it happened after Iraq attacked Iran in 1980, resulting in the consolidation of the newly installed Islamic Republic.
“What ever the cause of the explosion near Busher, it carries a message, as the sound of the blast was heard in Tehran”, wrote Mr. Mas’oud Behnoud, a veteran Iranian journalist.
Reminding that the regime is more isolated than ever on the international scene, Mr. Bahnoud concluded: “The Iranians got the message from the explosion, but what about the officials? Did they heard it as well and were they able to decipher it. In this case, they have only one way and that is to change their policy of confrontation with the world outside and with the people inside”. ENDS MOSQUE FIRE 18205