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The BBC's Jim Muir in Teheran
"An editorial strongly attacking the judiciary"
 real 28k

Sunday, 25 June, 2000, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
Reformist newspaper closed in Iran
Bayan newspaper
Last edition: the Bayan's closure will anger reformists
By Iranian affairs analyst Sadeq Saba

The Special Court for the Clergy in Iran has ordered the closure of one of the few remaining papers which support the reform policies of President Mohammad Khatami.

The conservative-controlled clerical court ordered the daily newspaper, Bayan, to stop publication immediately.

The paper is run by a former interior minister and cleric, Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pour, who is an advisor to Mr Khatami.

Ali Akbar Mohtashami
Mohtashami - hardliner turned reformer

The move comes only a week after Iran's reformist parliament appealed to the judiciary to take a more tolerant approach towards freedom of expression in Iran.

The court's order is a clear indication that the conservative faction which controls the judiciary is not intending to co-operate with the reformist parliament.

Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur is respected even by some conservatives for his past services to the Islamic Republic.

He is generally believed to have been instrumental in founding the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon when he was the Iranian ambassador to Syria in the early 1980s.

But in recent years he has supported the reform policies of President Khatami.

Last month, he was summoned by the Special Court for the Clergy to answer charges of press offences in his newspaper.

Court summons ignored

This special court, which is independent of the judiciary, deals with offences committed by clerics.

Mr Mohtashami ignored the summons because he, like most other reformist clerics, believes that the court is unconstitutional.

The court said it had ordered the closure of Bayan in order to prevent further offences by the paper.

The judiciary used the same controversial argument to close down nearly 20 newspapers in April.

This latest move is expected to anger reformists.

Last week, the reformist parliament vowed to change the country's tough press laws to ensure more freedom for Iran's journalists.

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See also:

18 Jun 00 | Middle East
Iran MPs demand press freedom
16 May 00 | Middle East
Another Iranian paper closed
27 May 00 | Middle East
Iran parliament enters new era
29 Apr 00 | Media reports
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28 Apr 00 | Middle East
Rafsanjani slams Iran's liberal media
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
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