Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
World: Middle East
Khatami slams Iran riots
The unrest was the worst in 20 years
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has described the street riots two weeks ago as a declaration of war against himself and his political reforms.
But he also fiercely criticised the attack on a Tehran University student dormitory by riot police, which set off the unrest - the worst since the 1979 revolution.
Mr Khatami was addressing a stadium packed with thousands of supporters in Hamadan, 300 kilometres south-west of Tehran.
"I have made a covenant with the nation to move with you towards justice.''
BBC Correspondent Jim Muir who is in Hamadan said the visit generated great excitement.
Local mosques, factories and offices were decked with banners and posters. And supporters chanted slogans of support and waved pictures of Mr Khatami along with Iranian flags and flowers.
Mr Khatami's vision of a government, which is both Islamic and republican, has set him at loggerheads with the conservative clerical establishment since his election in May 1997.
"They try to say religion and freedom do not mix and say that the universities are a danger to Islam and the revolution,'' he told supporters.
''They are striving to say that security and freedom do not mix and that in order to establish security, freedoms must be crushed. But the nation will not be fooled."
However he said anyone who tried to disrupt the country's national security had to be foiled.
''National security cannot be toyed around with lightly and nonchalantly. We must consider security as the foundation stone for development, progress, construction, freedom and independence,'' he said.
While Mr Khatami was visiting Hamadan, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was receiving some of the students injured in the police raid on the dormitory.
He led the students in prayer before discussing the protests, which left three people dead and more than 200 injured.
The Ayatollah is normally regarded as closer to the right-wing in Iranian clerical politics.
But our correspondent says he and Mr Khatami are publicly pulling together in the aftermath of the violent disturbances.
However, political tensions between the reformists and hardline factions are continuing to rise in the run-up to crucial parliamentary elections early next year.