More than 2,000 students gathered on a Tehran campus Sunday for a rally that brought reformists and dissidents together for a heated denunciation of the conservatives in Iran's clerical regime.
Supporters of reformist President Mohammad Khatami heard a series of often fiery speeches attacking the powerful conservative current that has hobbled the president's moves to liberalize Iranian society.
"The politics of repression will not be able to last for long," dissident nationalist Ezzatollah Sahabi said in a speech broken by applause and cheers.
"They want to reduce the president's room to maneuver and for that they use religion and the belief of the people," Sahabi said at Amir-Kabir university.
He accused conservatives, and in particular the judiciary which has imprisoned several high-profile reformist journalists and Khatami allies, of "incessantly trying to stir up crises in order to block reforms."
"Eighty-five percent of the people don't want the conservatives any more," said Sahabi, who is himself currently on trial for participating in a controversial political conference in Germany earlier this year.
Pro-reform Tehran MP Meissam Saidi, whose speech was interrupted by hearty chants against the conservative "mafia," said Iranians "must defend and support the reforms undertaken by President Khatami."
Saidi also urged students to "remain calm" and "avoid any violent act so that we don't give (conservatives) any pretext."
There was no trouble at the rally, which was limited to students of Amir-Kabir itself. Those with identification from other schools were turned away at the gate, as were most reporters.
The August conference of the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU), the largest pro-reform student group which organized Sunday's gathering, was marred by days of riots that left one dead and dozens wounded.
The unrest in the provincial capital of Khoramabad erupted after a mob stormed the city's airport to block two liberal critics of the clerical regime from addressing the OCU conference -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)