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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"Mr Mohajerani presided over the burgeoning of a lively press"
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Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 20:25 GMT
Senior reformer quits in Iran
Iran's former Culture Minister, Ataollah Mohajarani
Mohajerani submitted his resignation in April
Iran's President Khatami has accepted the resignation of his Culture Minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, who has been a leading figure in the country's reformist movement.

Mr Mohajerani had been fiercely criticised by conservatives who accused him of encouraging an erosion of moral standards.

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami
Khatami took months to accept the resignation
He offered his resignation some months ago, but the president initially refused to accept it.

In his resignation letter, Mr Mohajerani did not spell out the reasons for his move, saying only that requirements in the field of culture and the arts had made it impossible and inappropriate for him to continue in the job.

Mr Khatami has now given Mr Mohajerani the post of chairman of the Organisation for Dialogue of Civilisations - a body he set up to promote his call for international peace and understanding.

State television said he had appointed Mr Mohajerani's deputy, Ahmad Masjed-Jamei, to replace him.

Last week, in an address to students in Tehran, President Khatami confirmed that Mr Mohajerani - whom he described as a dear friend - had offered his resignation but said the situation was still under review.

Liberal press

Mr Mohajerani is widely credited by reformists for the flourishing of an outspoken liberal press, which has been largely stifled by Iran's right-wing judiciary in recent months.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says it was well known that the minister had incurred the displeasure of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr Khamenei gave the green light in April for a crackdown on the press, which saw more than 30 pro-reform publications banned.

Reports say Mr Mohajerani's new post will give him the opportunity to deal more with culture than politics.

He has frequently emphasised that the government should create an environment in which artists and writers can develop their creativity.

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