Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Accusations fly in Iranian media
While generally condemning the raid on the Tehran University hostel which triggered a wave of unrest, Iranian newspapers have also criticised their media rivals - either for under-reporting the events or for helping to escalate them.
The managing-director of the banned pro-reform daily Salam - Mohammad Musavi-Khoini - urged journalists to resist the temptation to go on strike on Tuesday in protest at last week's hostel raid.
"When the Iranian nation is in dire need of news and information, it is necessary to provide society with clear and explicit pieces of news," he said in a statement quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA.
"When brave college students are going through a hard time and facing difficulties in their attempts to defend freedom, more than ever before they need journalistic support from the independent press," said Musavi-Khoini.
The banning of Salam triggered the student sit-in and police raid, which then escalated into the daily demonstrations and clashes.
An editorial in the centrist Iran News daily on Tuesday backed Musavi-Khoini's plea to journalists not to down pens."
"When the country is going through a crisis, the absence of the press creates a vacuum whose consequences would harm both democracy and student movements," the paper said.
'Playing into the hands of the enemy'
Meanwhile, two conservative papers - the Tehran Times and Jomhuri-ye Eslami - attacked some quarters of the Iranian press, accusing them of playing into the hands of Iran's enemies.
The Tehran Times quoted Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying differences of opinion were natural but that in order to preserve national unity and harmony "there is a red line which should not be crossed" .
"In this respect, the role of the print media in Iran is alarming," the paper said. "Certain media have not the least concern about broader national interests. They write what suits the enemies of the system, not for their parties or factions."
Jomhuri-ye Eslami said that in the past few days " newspapers which are masters of demagoguery have adopted ugly methods to generate tension," and added: "These methods are similar to those of the pressure groups" .
The paper cited two press reports which it deemed inaccurate: One which said a law student had been killed in the Tehran unrest, and another which said clerics in the Islamic holy city of Qom had cancelled their lectures in protest at the Tehran hostel raid.
Jomhuri ye-Eslami also warned that outside Iran, "anti-revolutionary groups have been cooperating to a greater degree with the Western media recently" .
State broadcasting network targeted
The role of the conservative-run Iranian state broadcasting network IRIB has been targeted both by pro-reform students and by sections of the press.
IRNA reported that students protesting in Orumiyeh, north-west Iran, on Monday chanted slogans condemning both the police actions in Tehran and IRIB for alleged biased reporting of events.
The independent conservative daily Entekhab reported that demonstrators in Tehran had demanded the dismissal of IRIB chief Ali Larijani, angry at IRIB's alleged failure to provide adequate coverage of the unrest.
The pro-reform paper Hamshahri wrote that in the past journalists were not allowed to criticise the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) or Interior Ministry.
It said that if such criticism had been allowed, the killings of opposition figures in November and December 1998 "would not have taken place" .
The influential Qom Theological Lecturers' Association on Monday night issued a statement stressing "the importance of the university community's vigilance in the face of plots hatched by the enemies of the revolution" .
Referring to the "tragic" incident at the Tehran hostel, the statement said that "naturally, writers and speakers in the press and various circles are duty-bound to prevent the exacerbation of such incidents," Iranian radio reported.