Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday lashed out at reformists, accusing them of undermining his position and the country's Islamic system.
“Some are opposing the very basis and values of Islam in the name of reforms. The biggest danger is cultural. Those who were servants of oppression (the shah's regime) are now chanting slogan of reforms,” Khamenei told thousands of Friday prayer worshippers at Tehran University.
“They do not mean progress of the Islamic system, they mean removal of Islam and the position of the supreme leader. They promote American reforms.” “As long as I have responsibility and I'm alive, I will not allow these people to play with the country's interests. As long as the great principle of the position of supreme leader exists, conspiracies may create headaches but will not be able to destabilize this strong base,” Khamenei said.
However, Khamenei called for national unity and tolerance between the country's rival political factions.
The Ayatollah said that change and progress were necessary, but they should take place within the values of the Islamic republic.
He called on both moderates and hard-liners to close ranks, and repeated his criticism of the press that led to the hard-line judiciary shutting down 16 pro-democracy newspapers last month.
“The corrupt press was portraying a distorted, unrealistic and disappointing image about the present and the future. It was portraying an atmosphere of tension in the society,” Khamenei said.
Last month, Khamenei accused the pro-reform press of becoming the “bases of the enemy” and said the newspapers which accused the elite revolutionary forces of being involved in the March 12 shooting of leading reformist Saeed Hajjarian were “detrimental to the state.”
President Mohammad Khatami and his allies want to loosen rigid Islamic laws and social restrictions that have been in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution brought the Shiite clergy to power.
The hard-liners, who control key institutions like the military, the broadcast network and the judiciary, have found themselves struggling for survival against the reformist movement, which took off after Khatami's 1997 election – (Several Sources)
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