02/21/2014, 00.00
IRAN
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Success on nuclear issue abroad, defeats at home for Rouhani

A political adviser to Rouhani is slammed for wearing a tie at an international meeting. A reformist newspaper is shut down for describing as "inhumane" Islam's law on vengeance. Nuclear talks resumes are set to resume on 17 March.

Tehran (AsiaNews) - Current talks in Vienna on Iran's nuclear programme are "very positive," said EU chief Catherine Ashton.

Iran and the 5+1 group (also known as the E3+3: Great Britain, Germany, France for the EU, plus the United States, Russia and China) have agreed on a number of issues to be addressed starting next 17 March.

Talks on a comprehensive agreement over Iran's nuclear programme follow a temporary deal worked out last November in which Tehran agreed to curb uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

Such positive results are due to the new style introduced by President Hassan Rouhani who has pursued a path of dialogue and not of confrontation with the international community, especially with the United States and Europe.

At home however, his attempts at reform have been stopped. When he was elected president last June, he promised greater cultural freedom and a more open society.

For most young Iranians the state apparatus run by the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards is corrupt and phoney and for this reason many of them have started to reject Islam.

Last Saturday, Rouhani had to disavow his senior foreign policy adviser, Mahmood Sariolghalam, who wore a tie at a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sariolghalam, a professor at Iran's National University, was harshly attacked by state TV and right-wingers for breaking a rule established by Khomeini, for whom the tie was a symbol of "Western decadence."

A second punch came yesterday when reformist newspaper Aseman (sky in Persian), was shut down for offending Islamic law when it published an article in which qesas, the Islamic law on vengeance, was described as "inhumane".

The paper's editor, Abbas Bozorgmehr, was arrested and brought to Evin Prison.

Aseman was published as a weekly paper for two years before it was rebranded as a daily a few days ago.

Last October, another reformist newspaper, Bahar, was shut down for allegedly questioning Shia beliefs.

For Shia cleric Mohammadreza Baqerzadeh, the "attacks" against Islamic law are the result of the "cultural atmosphere" created by the new government, the Fars news agency reported.

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