KHAMENEH'I CLOSES "TOOS", ORDERS ITS EDITORS ARREST

PARIS 15 SEPT. (IPS) As expected, 24 hours after the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i leashed out at the independent press, the liberal newspaper "Toos" was closed down Wednesday on order from the Judiciary which is controlled by Mr Khameneh'i, its editors arrested and taken to Islamic revolutionary court on charges of insulting Islam and damaging and undermining the regime.

In a sharp tongued speech to the commanders of the revolutionary guards, an angry Khameneh'i said. "A dangerous, creeping cultural movement has started in the country that is targeting the people's faith. There are newspapers writing against Islam. They say they don't want Islam. They don't like the name of Islam. Officials in charge must tackle seriously this situation", the ayatollah warned.

Analysts said his harsh words were in reaction to recent articles by moderate and nationalist newspapers warning the leadership against going into war with the Taleban in Afghanistan, in the one hand and recent article questioning his leadership on the other.

"I'm now waiting to see what the officials are doing. Of course, stopping these vicious action is not difficult and I do not care what the world, the international press or organisations would say and we shall never care about them", the lame-duck Khameneh'i uttered.

The Violent statement of the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i against both the Taleban and Pakistan followed by most virulent attacks, one day latter, against Iranian "independent" press is interpreted by local analysts as signalling increased pressures put on him by the ultra-conservative to resist Western-type freedom the government of president Mohammad Khatami is initialising.

Talking Tuesday to revolutionary guards commanders, Mr Khameneh'i, who is also the supreme commander of all Iranian armed forces told them, as well as the regime's political leadership to be on "full alert" for "immediate execution of orders" concerning the situation both inside Iran and in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But the bulk of Mr Khameneh'i's declaration was dedicated to threats in the most violent terms that segment of the press which supports the president.

Though he did not name any newspaper, nor did he refer to any particular article, but analysts said he certainly was pricked by an article published by "Toos" in which the grand ayatollah Abolqasem Kho'i, the late supreme leader of all the Shi'tes world-wide was quoted to have described the "velayate faqih" system, the corner stone of the Islamic Republic as being unislamic..

On Monday, Mr Khameneh'i publicly accused Pakistan's army to be officially involved in Afghanistan, accusing it to have bombed out the Sh'ia city of Bamian, "acting on orders from wicked US oil giants".

Mr Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani Prime Minister immediately rejected the charges as "baseless allegations".

On Tuesday, the ayatollah Khameneh'i reiterated earlier accusations against Pakistan and used same harsh vulgar words as "savages, barbaric, ingorants, murderous, criminals" to describe the Taleban.

Then he turned to domestic problems and pinpointing a "certain press", he reminded that freedom in Islam is contained within the religion itself and whatever outside is considered not freedom but plots against Islam.

"This is the country of God, of Islam, of Koran, of faith. In this country of Islam, we are not against freedom, but a freedom permitted by Islam. Now I'm waiting to see how the officials will deal with this dangerous, creeping cultural plot", he added.

His words were in complete disagreement and sharp contrast with the action of the ayatollah Khatami and his Islamic Guidance Minister, Ata'ollah Mohajerani who are struggling to provide more freedom to the press and to the population.

Using this limited freedom, some newspapers, like "Toos" or "Salam" and weeklies and monthlies that are not controlled by the ruling mollahs have made away with old taboos such as the separation of religion and state, the role of the leader, the limitation of his mandate, the necessity for him to be responsible to people's representatives etc., all sacred notions in a regime tightly controlled by ultra-conservatives forces.

"One informed told IPS that Mr Khameneh'i is under increased pressure by conservative hard liners to profit from the Afghan crisis to dismiss the president and therefore, by shifting his verbal offensive from the Afghan issue to local ones, he may be trying to cool down his "invisible but powerful masters".

The Taleban have warned Iran that any attack on them, even limited will be dealt harshly.

"We invite Mr. Khameneh'i to wisdom and logic. We tell him to come and sit and talk, directly or indirectly, through international organisations, such as the United Nations or The Organisation of Islamic Conference. But we tell Mr Khameneh'i that if he ever dare to ignite the fire, he will be engulfed as well" Mr Nourollah Zadran, the Taleban's Chief Representative at the UN cautioned.

In fact, not only Iran is now being prisoner of its own anti-Taleban rhetoric's, but the fact that it is also the president of the Organisation of Islamic Conference limits its options. ENDS TOOS CLOSED 1699816