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The BBC's Jim Muir
Both sides have accused each other of triggering the tension.
 real 28k

Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 19:12 GMT
Iranian cartoonist arrested

protest The cartoons caused three days of protests


An Iranian cartoonist whose satire of a prominent cleric outraged the Islamic establishment has been arrested.


Nik Ahangh-Kosar Nik Ahangh-Kosar: Remanded in custody
The detention of Nik Ahangh-Kosar follows three days of protests in the holy city of Qom by thousands of clerics and theological students.

He was remanded to Tehran's Evin prison on Saturday after Iran's Press Supervisory Board referred the case against the pro-reform Azad newspaper to court.

Protesters said the cartoons - one showing a crocodile crushing a troublesome writer - insulted Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.

Culture minister criticised

They criticised the moderate culture minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, for fostering a permissive climate which eroded Islamic values and called for his dismissal.

Azad published a notice on Saturday saying it was voluntarily suspending publication for three days "to soothe tensions".

It also has published apologies saying the cartoons were not intended to be offensive.

The BBC Tehran correspondent says the affair has brought to a head a growing confrontation between reformists and hardliners in the run-up to general elections in two weeks' time.

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See also:
05 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Bomb blasts in Tehran
10 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Nouri banned from Iranian election
02 Feb 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: The forces for change
09 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Khatami allies barred from election
08 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Khamenei attacks Iran's reformists

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