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Saturday, May 23, 1998 Published at 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK


World: Monitoring

President Khatami's anniversary speech

President Khatami: "Freedom does not mean anarchy."

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told a massive, cheering rally at Tehran University that Iranian society had to move forward and institutionalise freedoms within the framework of the law.

The rally was called to mark the first anniversary of his landslide election victory.

'Institutionalise freedom'


President Khatami: "Freedom must be institutionalised" (in Persian) (49")
"We must move forward within the framework of the law. If we want a civil society, a legal society, in which there is freedom, we must make every effort to move within the law and institutionalise freedom," President Khatami said in a speech broadcast by Iranian radio.

This was a task, he said, which required "patience and forbearance".

"Desired and legitimate freedom may come under attack from those who disagree with the essence of freedom and who are by nature attached to prejudices and what they are used to... They think that the only way they can survive is through the elimination of their rival," said the Iranian President.

Religion not to contradict freedom

Mr Khatami said that the continuing prestige of religion in Iranian society would rely on its not coming into contradiction with the principles of freedom.

"Let me declare my belief clearly. The destiny of the religion's social prestige today and tomorrow will depend on our interpretation of the religion in a manner which would not contradict freedom," he said.

"Whenever in history a religion has faced freedom, it has been the religion which has sustained damage. Even if justice has contradicted freedom, justice has suffered. When progress and construction have curtailed freedom, they have been undermined."

Mr Khatami told the rally that "freedom does not mean anarchy; and limiting freedom does not mean dictatorship."

"The civil society, which we keep talking about, and which human wisdom over the years has come to believe will serve the people's interest in the best possible manner, is the sort of civil society which will guarantee freedom within the framework of the law. But the law itself must officially recognise the principle of freedom."

"The foundation of our law and our system is the Constitution, which has recognised the people's right to be in charge of their own destiny, and has also recognised our society's right to fundamental freedom. Only by securing freedom under the umbrella of law, one can establish the legitimate and desirable freedom in society," he said.

'Freedom of the opposition'

President Khatami defended the right of the opposition to be heard, saying that "when we speak of freedom we mean the freedom of the opposition.

"It is no freedom if only the people who agree with those in power and with their ways and means are free. Freedom means the freedom of the opposition.

"The art of government is not to eliminate the opposition from the arena. The art of government is to compel even its own opposition to behave within the framework of the law.

"There is a mutual right between the state and the people here. The state has the right to expect the citizens, its supporters and the opposition, to behave and express their views in the framework of the law.

"And the people have the right, within the framework of the law, to expect their freedoms from the government," said Mr Khatami.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), 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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