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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 17:33 GMT
Iran accuses West of fomenting revolt
Protesting students in July 1999
Tehran students demand greater press freedom
Conservative hardliners in Iran have accused Western countries including Britain of encouraging students and others frustrated at the slow pace of reform to rise up against the government.

The conservative press has singled out the BBC and the Guardian newspaper for particular criticism.

The daily Kayhan, a mouthpiece for Iran's hardliners, says the "executive project for 'civil disobedience' in Iran has been drawn up by American, British and Israeli intelligence organisations, with the assistance of the heads of counter-revolutionary grouplets based abroad."

Inciting unrest?

It said this project was just the latest ploy devised by the CIA for overthrowing Iran's Islamic Republic, adding that what it described as "counter-revolutionary" tendencies had recently received wide coverage in the British media.

A contrived and suggestive report

Kayhan on the BBC
The paper attacked a BBC report which included an interview with a spokesman for Iran's biggest student movement, the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU).

"On Tuesday night [21st November], British radio, in a contrived and suggestive report in line with the project of 'bypassing Khatami', reported that... reformist students intend to protest against the slow pace of reform and to advertise a movement of civil disobedience," Kayhan said.

Another conservative paper, Resalat, featured a cartoon showing a BBC satellite dish beaming messages to a crowd of Iranian protesters.


Kayhan also pointed to a recent report in the Guardian, which said that some student leaders had lost faith in President Mohammad Khatami's ability to push through reforms and were planning to resort to more radical action to put pressure on the government.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Treading cautiously: Iran's President Khatami
The Guardian said that some of the measures being considered, including strikes at universities, were aimed at bringing about confrontation with the security forces - something the more cautious Mr Khatami has always sought to avoid.

The paper quoted one student leader as saying that the reform movement within the government had become "too passive" and that such an approach was playing into the hands of conservatives.

The OCU was one of the main groups that backed Mr Khatami's bid for the presidency in 1997, but has since become disillusioned at his failure to implement the "civil society" he promised then.

Serious clashes broke out between students and the conservative-dominated security forces in Tehran and Tabriz in July 1999, triggered by the closing of a leading pro-reformist newspaper, Salam.

The British government has dismissed allegations that it is attempting to stir up dissent in Iran, pointing to a series of high-level visits as evidence of improving relations between the two countries.

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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See also:

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