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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Profile: Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur
Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur speaks for the new reformist Coalition for Iran
Reformists' spokesman Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur

Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur is a respected cleric rooted in the religious establishment who became a close supporter of reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

During the February 2004 parliamentary election he emerged as spokesman of a new reformist Coalition for Iran, which fielded some 190 candidates despite the banning or withdrawal of many reformists.

Mr Mohtashami-Pur himself, though allowed to stand, decided to pull out in order, as he put it, "to sound the alarm".

But in a newspaper interview he urged fellow members of the Militant Clerics Society - to which President Khatami and parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi also belong - to "stay and fight" the election and the reformist cause.

The Militant Clerics Society is part of the Coalition for Iran.

Mr Mohtashami-Pur served as interior minister under the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini.
If a tribunal is set up in Tehran, hundreds would come here from around the world to file complaints against the Zionist regime
Mohtashami-Pur in 2002

He is generally believed to have helped found the anti-Israeli resistance movement Hezbollah in Lebanon, when he was Iranian ambassador to Syria in the early 1980s.

In January 2002 parliament approved a bill, presented by Mr Mohtashami-Pur, calling for a special tribunal to be set up in Tehran to try "war criminals", including Israeli leaders such as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

But Mr Mohtashami-Pur's tough stance on Israel has been counterbalanced by his ever more apparent reformist credentials.

In June 2000, his pro-Khatami Bayan daily was accused by the conservative-controlled Special Clerical Court of breaking laws on Islam and on the press. He was ordered to stop publication immediately.

Later that month he was elected to the Majlis in the runoff poll in Tehran. Then in August 2000, members of the reformist Second Khordad Front picked him to lead them in parliament.

Alongside his parliamentary role Mr Mohtashami-Pur has served as political adviser to President Khatami.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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