A majority of Iranian MPs voiced their support Wednesday for popular former culture minister Ayatollah Mohajerani, who stepped down from office last week amid sharp conservative criticism.
"No one can claim that Mohajerani did not succeed in narrowing the distance between the regime and the people," they said in a statement read at the end of Wednesday's session, carried live on state radio.
They hailed Mohajerani, a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami, as "the artisan of cultural development (who) survived many difficult storms" and said he had worked to "fill the gap between the regime's official culture and that of society."
Khatami on Thursday finally accepted Mohajerani's resignation after rejecting his bid to step down earlier in the year before the courts shuttered more than 25 newspapers and journals.
Mohajerani had survived an impeachment scare last year when the parliament was still in the hands of conservatives angry over his "laxity" in controlling the press, whose licenses are issued by the culture ministry.
He was a frequent target of conservative attacks and some reformists have suggested the president was forced to sacrifice the popular minister in order to keep alive his chances for re-election next year.
The conservative-dominated judiciary on Tuesday denied there had been a back-room deal not to prosecute Mohajerani for alleged corruption in exchange for his resignation.
Mohajerani is reportedly being investigated for alleged misuse of funds belonging to the state pilgrimage organization that was under his ministry's control -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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