“Insulting” caricature might result in closure of Reformist daily Sharq

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120 MPs have protested a caricature in the Reformist daily Sharq deeming it insulting to the “warriors of Islam”, in this instance, the men who fought in the Iran-Iraq war.

It has been speculated by Digarban, a website outside Iran which follows the Conservative media, that the caricature is being used as a pretext to close the newspaper. In the caricature Iranian soldiers are depicted as blindfolded and “blindly” following one another in succession to the war front. Irrespective of whether the caricature is being used cynically by Iranian MPs in order to close down Sharq, the so-called “sacred defence” as it is referred to in official literature remains an extremely sensitive subject in Iran and has been transformed into the IRGC’s chief source ideological legitimacy.

Khamenei’s former deputy in the IRGC has come out publicly stating: “the suspension and closure of Sharq is the very least the people can expect for the shameless insult of this newspaper”.

Mohammad Hosseini, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has also called Sharq a “purveyor of Western culture” and stated that the controversial caricature has been welcomed outside the country and by “anti-revolutionary sites”. The Minister added, “this is not the first time that Sharq newspaper is doing something like this and in the past it has been culpable of similar acts on many occasions, and [we] announced such an opinion to the supervisory council”. Hosseini expressed his hope that the council will resolve the issue once and for all, essentially calling for the newspaper’s closure.

In other domestic news

Majles deputies rose to their feet and chanted “Allah o Akbar” in support of the Chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari’s recent “anti-Zionist” and “anti-American” comments. The chants began during the course of a speech by Hojjat ol-Eslam Rasai, a radical Principalist cleric, in which he warned Reformist politician Mohammadreza Tabesh and rebutted him for publicly criticizing Jafari’s comments.

The Rafsanjani family lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabai, has stated that Mehdi Hashemi’s “temporary detention is legal”. He added that his client may be temporarily detained during the preliminary phase of “research”, but upon its completion an order for his arrest, or the posting of bail will be issued in accordance with the law.

The Fars News story goes on to accuse Alizadeh Tabatabai of calling on Sadeq Larijani, the head of the Judiciary, to “interfere” in Faezeh Hashemi’s case, by invoking article 18 on the formation of public and revolutionary courts, whereby a ruling can be placed in abeyance and subject to review if it is deemed to be in contravention of the shari’ah. Faezeh Hashemi’s lawyer has stated that she has disagreed with the request to invoke article 18 and wishes to serve her time in jail.

Hojjat ol-Eslam Hossein Sobhani Nia, chief of the Majles governing committee, has announced the plan for the reform of the election of the president has received 120 MPs’ signatures. This plan had been under review with the Commission for Majles Council Affairs, until the final draft was ready to be submitted to the governing committee, which assists the Speaker in setting the agenda for Majles sessions. The issues subject to review are the age of prospective presidential candidates, the required level of qualifications, campaigning methods and penalties for violations in the course of the presidential campaign.

Mohammadreza Bahonar, First Deputy Speaker of the Majles, has stated that “if things carry on as they are by the end of the year we will 40% inflation”, Aftab News, close to former president Rafsanjani has reported.

Bahonar added, “today’s economic condition depends on numerous factors of which 50 percent is the result of sanctions and resolutions against Iran and 50 percent is internal that with good management and collective wisdom will be set aside”.

Maverick Conservative MP, Ali Motahhari, is once again collecting signatures in order to question the president. MPs have already questioned President Ahmadinejad, in what despite being an unprecedented move, did not prove to be especially successful as Ahmadinejad came across as for the most part flagrantly mocking the MPs posing questions.

26 MPs have issued a written warning to President Ahmadinejad regarding his comments pertaining to negotiations with the United States on his trip to talk before the UN General Assembly.

In other news

Raja News reports today’s “martyrdom” of a Press TV journalist and Fars News photographer, Maya Nasser, reporting from Damascus. Nasser was shot while reporting on a twin explosion which today rocked the Syrian capital.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh has stated that Iran is prepared to halt 20% uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, Mehr News reports. Soltanieh claimed that the offer of the cessation of 20% uranium enrichment was made in Supreme National Security Chief Saeed Jalili’s meeting with EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton on the 18th of September.

Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, the Chief of the Army’s Ground Forces, has stated that “Our doctrine is defensive and based on deterrence and we will never trigger a war”. He added, “But, if anybody wants to act against the Islamic Republic of Iran, he will receive our decisive, crushing and destructive response”.