The United States is trying to topple the Islamic regime in Iran just as it did with the communists in the former Soviet Union, a leading conservative cleric charged on Friday.
Ayatollah Ahmad Janati accused Washington of supporting pro-reform elements in the media that he said had waged a misinformation campaign against the clerical regime.
"The United States wants what happened in the Soviet Union to happen here in Iran," Janati told worshippers during a sermon at weekly prayers at Tehran University.
Echoing the words of the Islamic republic's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Janati vowed: "Iran will never become the Soviet Union."
He also appeared to take a swipe at reformist President Mohammed Khatami, pointing out last week's conservative-organized rallies in support of curbs on the press and against some reformist MPs.
The Iranian people "only support leaders, who are on the path of Islam," Janati said.
Conservatives have frequently charged the reform movement of wanting to carry out "Western-style" or non-Islamic reforms to the system.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, earlier this year charged that newspapers were serving as "bases" for enemies of Islam and the regime.
In the weeks after his statement the conservative-led courts launched a crackdown on the press, closing more than 20 newspapers and magazines, including every major pro-Khatami publication - TEHRAN (AFP)
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