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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Iranian conservatives shutter newspaper (updated)

From Al Arabiya:

Iranian authorities shut down a reformist newspaper on Sunday after it published a scathing attack by an aide to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the president’s rival conservatives, the latest sign of a split in the highest echelons of the Islamic Republic.

Tehran’s prosecutor's office ordered the daily Etemad to close for two months for “disseminating lies and insults to officials in the establishment,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

One of the main reasons for the ban was an interview with Ahmadinejad’s media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Fars quoted Etemad manager Elias Hazrati as saying.

In the interview Javanfekr hit back at critics who accuse Ahmadinejad of being in the thrall of a “deviant” circle seeking to undermine the Islamic clergy, saying they had “poisoned” politics and implying many were corrupt.

“What have we ‘deviated’ from? Yes, we have deviated from those friends, from their beliefs, behavior and interpretations,” Javanfekr told Saturday’s Etemad. “If they meant the deviant current is a deviation from their beliefs, we confirm it.”

The counter-attack, published verbatim over three pages in Etemad, signaled the determination of Ahmadinejad’s camp to fight back as Iran gears up for parliamentary elections in March.

With the opposition “Green” movement crushed after protesting Ahmadinejad’s 2009 re-election, the battle for power in Iran is now between rival conservatives ̶ the traditional religious hardliners and the more populist Ahmadinejad camp.
In the crazy world of Iranian politics, Ahmadinejad is regarded as a populist reformist!

UPDATE: Iranian police are trying to arrest Javafekr.