» 02/21/2008, 00.00
Ayatollah Montazeri blasts the lack of freedom in Iran
In a country where election races are controlled by the establishment, executions are continually increasing, and the freedom of the press and of assembly are violated on a daily basis, the voice of the 85 year-old ayatollah rings out in protest. He is one of the leaders of the Islamic theocracy, and one of the "fathers" of modern Iran.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The grand ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri denounces the lack of freedom in the Islamic republic of Iran, with special reference to the race for the upcoming elections on March 14.
The misdeeds of the council of guardians, which has dutifully barred the way for hundreds of reformist candidates, offers a disheartening panorama, and, according to the ayatollah, depicts Islam as a violent and coercive religion.
In spite of the fact that just a few days ago this same council - which has the last word on candidacies - rehabilitated 251 reformists, the moderates have little hope of matching up to the monolithic presence of the conservatives in parliament.
In a statement reported by the reformist newspaper Etemad, ayatollah Montazeri said: "We have succeeded in achieving independence. But freedom, which is advocated by Islam and the constitution, has been sacrificed. A clear and deplorable example of that is the mass disqualifications which have taken place regardless of the law and national interests and only out of political bias".
Ayatollah Ali Montazeri was one of the leaders of the Islamic revolution in Iran, and was initially designated by Khomeini as his possible successor. His relationship with the supreme leader deteriorated when Montazeri came out in favour of the legalisation of political parties, and began to denounce the violations of freedom in the new Islamic republic. In spite of having spent five years under house arrest and of his precarious health, ayatollah Montazeri still remains today an influential political figure in Iran, and does not hold back from criticising current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his economic policies and over the nuclear question, calling for him to moderate his usual provocative tone, which creates conflict and tension at both the national and international level.
Ali Khamenei: No foreign power behind the protests in Tehran
The Supreme Leader of Iran rules out that Western governments were behind the demonstrations. He confirms that there is "no evidence" but adds that the mass demonstrations were planned in advance. The ayatollah has distanced himself from the hard line promoted by conservatives and President Ahmadinejad.
Ayatollah Jannti says "voting is like praying"
Polls open in Iran, Khamenei asks people to vote
The conservatives are divided and are likely to steal votes from one another. Moderates and reformers united around Hassan Rohani hope for a run off on 21 June. The Supreme Leader: "The votes needed to give Ahmadinejad’s successor the strength to fight the enemies of our Republic."
Voter turn out in Iranian elections well above expectations
Polling has been extended to cope with the stream of voters indicating a return of young people in election participation. It is similar to 1979, when the “reformist” Khatami swept to power beating the Supreme Guide’s candidate. Even the ayatollahs appear divided.
Mohammad Khatami to run in presidential elections against Ahmadinejad
He is the most open of the Islamic leaders, author of “dialogue between civilisations” and for greater freedom for women. The disastrous economic conditions of the country could favour him. Negative elements include: the social power of the ayatollah and the disillusionment of his old allies over his indecisiveness over reforms during his last mandate.
Pope tells young people to remember the past, to have courage in the present and hope for the future
The Message for the 32nd World Youth Day was issued today centred on “The ‘great things’ that the Almighty accomplished’.” In her meeting with Elizabeth, Mary becomes a model. The pontiff calls on young people to avoid being couch potatoes, safe and cosy, urges them to rediscover the relationship with seniors. The Church experience is not a flash mob. The future should be experienced in a constructive way, and “the institutions of marriage, consecrated life and priestly mission” should not be devalued.
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