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Friday, December 19, 1997 Published at 21:16 GMT

World: Monitoring

Iran's new Islamic Guidance Minister Mohajerani gives press conference

Seyyed Ataollah Mohajerani was approved in his post as Islamic Guidance minister in the new government of President Mohammed Khatami in August. After the parliamentary debate, he gave a press conference.

The following are excerpts from a report by the Iranian newspaper `Ettela'at' on 21st August:

Dr Ata'ollah Mohajerani, who has been presented to the Majlis [parliament] by President Khatami as the minister of Islamic culture and guidance, is known to domestic and foreign circles as one of the most prominent figures in Iran's new cabinet... Below is an interview, in which he answered questions by domestic and foreign correspondents after 10 hours of Majlis debate:

[Question] What is your opinion on the use of satellite dishes?

[Mohajerani] The Majlis has approved a law banning satellite dishes. If a revision is necessary, this should be done by the Majlis deputies who approved this law.

[Q] Do you think a revision is necessary?

[A] I have not conducted a serious expert examination on this issue. The issue has been examined in various other countries. However, I cannot say at this point if a revision should take place or not.

[Q] As the future minister of Islamic culture and guidance, do you think the Liberation Movement can request a permit for the publication of a newspaper?

[A] If the Liberation Movement receives permission to operate as a political group and is recognized as a legal and authorized political group, naturally it can also apply for a permit to publish a newspaper. But the first condition for receiving this permit is that it should be authorized to carry out political activities.

[Q] What is your opinion on the closing down of some publications and newspapers?

[A] I believe we should carefully examine the issue, so that the reasons behind the closure of the `Jahan-e Eslam' newspapers and other publications are specified. We will also make a study to see which of these newspapers do not have any legal problems and can resume publication.

[Q] Can you describe what the future activities of the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance will be?

[A] If we can make the three areas of books, films and cultural productions statutory [Persian: qanunmand], in order to enable our intellectuals to be ready and free to be creative, I think we will be able to make positive progress. But I do not want to make big remarks now and then not be able to do anything.

[Q] Some people have accused you of being a liberal. How do you comment on this? [A] I may have been accused of being a liberal because my friends and I pay more attention to individual freedom...

[Q] It is said you have taken some steps as far as the attack on the `Iran-e Farda' publication is concerned.

[A] The president has asked the Ministry of the Interior to provide explanations on this. [Q] In some towns, some groups have illegally attempted to stop the screening of some films. In view of Khatami's opinion on establishing a civil society and on the rule of law, will such incidents be confronted in the future?

[A] As far as acts contrary to the law are concerned, naturally, in view of the president's emphasis on the need to make society law-abiding - a point which constitutes the pivotal part of his programme - the breaking of the law and the violation of people's rights will be confronted with the law. In other words, if someone tries to stop the screening of a film which has received a permit from the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, definitely this attempt must be protested against. As the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, we defend this issue and we will prevent such incidents in any way we can...

[Q] Do you think your presence in the Kargozaran [group] was not very effective?

[A] I believe my role was not more important than the role of others. We all constitute a friendly group of associates and friends who work together...

Source: `Ettela'at', Tehran, in Persian 23 Aug 97

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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