Monday July 20 – the daily story

Khatami referendum challenge — Iran’s reformist movement is seeking a referendum on the legitimacy of present government as a way out of the current political impasse. The Association of Combatant Clerics said in a statement that millions of Iranians had lost confidence in the electoral process an independently organised  referendum was the only answer. The message was echoed by the association’s central council chairman, former president Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, who said: “People should be asked if they agree with the current situation. If the vast majority of people do agree, we will also accept it.” Lending credence to the referendum call is the fact that it follows talks Khatami has been having with religious leaders in Qom – at the same time as Ayatollah Rafsanjani is meeting other  top clerics in Mashad – and in Tehran with Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei,  the hardline intelligence  minister.

A sign that that meeting may have been positive came yesterday when Khatami  met families of detained protesters. During the meeting two of the prisoners involved called their families from Evin prison.  At the gathering Khatami praised Rafsanjani’s Friday prayers sermon , saying his recommendations were the “bare minimum”  for the government, which had put the Islamic regime in grave danger. “Not only has the republican part [of the Islamic republic] been challenged, but also the Islamic part has been damaged.  The Islamic part of the system means the supremacy of justice. Unfortunately this principle has been put in question by many ruling bodies.”

Meanwhile, another reformist leader, Mehdi Karroubi, said government claims that it had not attacked protesters were reminiscent of the era of the Shah. “They kill the young people in front of people’s eyes and then say that they didn’t have guns. As a member of this system, I am embarrassed at these thoughtless and clear lies.” Karroubi also confirmed that he was assaulted outside the Friday prayers ceremony.

Videos posted on YouTube also seemed to confirm a demonstration by Karroubi supporters in Shiraz on Sunday which Green Brief suggested may have received official permission. Reuters,  NYT, Green Brief, CNN, Tehran Bureau, Assembly of Combatant Clerrgymen statement

Khamenei warning — Ayatollah Khamenei today warned the reformist opposition to be careful what they said, declaring that damaging the country’s security was “the biggest vice”. Pulling no punches in a message marking a religious anniversary, he added: “Anybody who drives society toward insecurity and disorder is a hated person in the view of the Iranian nation, whoever he is.” In the hardline paper Kayhan, editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari said the referendum plan was “yet another Western plot to raise havoc”. He declared: “The main idea of this plan is to trigger tension. Their proposal is illegal amd impractical.”  AP, AFP See also: boston.com, isria.com

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