MP: Iran's Under-Fire Culture Minister Withdraws his Resignation
An Iranian MP said under-fire Culture Minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, has withdrawn his resignation, press reports said Wednesday, adding to the swirl of speculation around one of President Mohammed Khatami's closest allies.
Mohammad Dadfar said Mohajerani, a hero to the reform movement and a regular target of conservative anger, had taken back a letter to Khatami stepping down from office, newspapers said.
Reports of Mohajerani's resignation have see-sawed back and forth in recent weeks, including rumors that Khatami asked his ally to tone down an angry 50-page letter explaining his reasons for leaving the government.
Mohajerani, whose ministry issues newspaper licenses, has been blasted by conservatives and hardliners over his handling of the press, much of which has been shut down by the right-wing courts since April.
But his role in helping to create a flourishing and vocal press after Khatami's 1997 election, and his support for Iran's celebrated film industry, have made him a political hero to the pro-reform movement.
Mohajerani survived an impeachment battle in parliament last year, when the legislature was still dominated by conservatives.
The conservative courts launched a stinging crackdown on the press in April, closing every major pro-Khatami paper just weeks after reformists won a majority in February's parliamentary elections.
Mohajerani's reported resignation has been the source of intense speculation in recent weeks, with what remains of the reform press reporting his continuing attendance at official government meetings – TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)