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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 17:42 GMT
Khatami warns hardliners
President Khatami
President Khatami's reforms are under threat
Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami has issued a tough warning to conservative forces in country, saying that security could get out of control if the people were deceived.

Mr Khatami said the biggest danger threatening Iranian society was misuse of power by the establishment.


We should be worried that one day our people will feel the authorities are not meeting their real demands

President Khatami
Durable stability could only be achieved, he said, if the establishment recognised differences of opinion.

Mr Khatami's comments reflect an ongoing power struggle with hard-line factions, which have used the judiciary and the military to curb his plans to ease social and political restrictions.

'Narrow concepts'

Addressing the conference on public security and national unity at the Interior Ministry, Mr Khatami thanked the Iranian people for "tolerating pressures and organised attempts to disappoint" them.

Student protesters
Pressure for change in Iran is growing
He said: "There are those... who accept no change.

"Their God is their narrow and dark concepts that fight all the people's demands in the name of religion.

"We should be worried that, God forbid, one day our people will feel the authorities are not meeting their real demands and that dirty hands have succeeded in disappointing them and thus alienating them.

"Under such circumstances, no military, security or judicial power will be able to save the country."

Conservative backlash

The hardliners control key, unelected institutions, including the judiciary, broadcast networks, the military and police.

Since losing power in parliament a year ago, conservatives have tried to reassert their power by closing reformist newspapers and jailing prominent reformists and journalists.

On Saturday, Mr Khatami also used an address to thousands of people celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic revolution to attack hardliners who, he said, sought to "misrepresent Islam".

But unrest broke out in the capital as he spoke, with clashes between security forces and students seeking greater freedom of expression.

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See also:

20 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iran police face campus ban
12 Jul 00 | Middle East
Khatami visit ends with protests
14 Jul 99 | Middle East
Iranian hardliners strike back
11 Jan 00 | Middle East
Iranian minister shrugs off protests
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