Sunday September 20 – the daily story

The main headlines

Reformist leader Mehdi Karoubi has confirmed that the judiciary is preparing a case against him and he has been served with a court summons, according to Tehran Bureau. The report says he told a meeting of doctors and dentists that the summons required his signature. “I wrote underneath the order that this would be a good opportunity for me to speak in court about the crimes that even the Shah did not commit, and then I signed it.” Without naming names,  he also appeared to confirm that at their recent meeting Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani had tried to persuade him to drop his prison rape allegations until the current turmoil passed over.  But Karoubi said it was clear from that discussion that even the conservatives are worried by the behaviour of the hardliners.  “They are so dogmatic and narrow-minded and incapable of seeing the realities.” Tehran Bureau

— A petition has been started on Twitter nominating Karoubi for the Nobel peace prize. Twitter

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blew a lot of hot and a bit of cold today as he tried to put a brave face on Friday’s humiliating hijacking of the Qods Day rallies by the Green movement. In a sermon to mark the Eid-e Fetr holiday that signifies the end of Ramadan, he said televised confessions by defendants in court were perfectly acceptable in Islamic and national law. But evidence given against others not able to defend themselves wasn’t. “It should be noted that what was aired on state television from recent court sessions, in which defendants accused others who were not present of wrongdoing … this is not reliable … Whatever the suspect says about himself in the court session can be relied upon, … but if it is about someone else it is not dependable.”  And calling for media vigilance against “foreign-led efforts to spread destabilising rumours”, he added: “The media should refrain from publicizing allegations leveled by foreign media against certain individuals in the country accusing them of betrayal and other wrongdoing. … This is not acceptable.”  Quite who is the target of that last line is unclear but, taken in the round, his comments appeared to be a signal to lay off the reformist leadership, certainly Ayatollah Rafsanjani, whose family has been accused of corruption during the show trials. According to Fars, Khamenei also underlined “that good morals, kindness and fraternity are prime needs of society” and he “harshly criticised” newspapers and other media for fanning an atmosphere of accusations, suspicion and doubts.  “The regretful trend of exchange of rumours and accusations will darken and tarnish hearts and the social atmosphere.”

— On the matter of the Qods Day rally, Khamenei expressed gratitude to the people for their high turnout,  which had  delivered “a loud and clear shout against the cancer of Zionism”.  He virtually ignored the successful involvement of the Green movement, saying that in fact the West had failed in its attempts to undermine the government with large opposition protests. “It showed that their  tricks, spending money and political evildoing do not influence the Iranian nation.”There was apparently no hint of irony in his voice when he said the rallies had proved yet again that the Islamic umma would not accept tyranny. PressTV, Fars, LAT, LAT, payvand

— When he wasn’t seeing red over Qods, and going ballistic over Israel, Khamenei attacked the US decision to change its plans to install a missile defence shield in East Europe. “America, under its former president, spared no efforts against the Muslim world as well as against Iran. Even the current administration,  with its apparently friendly words and messages, follows that same anti-Islamic and anti-Iranian policy of the past.” He also said that claims that Iran is producing nuclear weapons are “lies against the Islamic establishment”. He added:  “Because of its Islamic beliefs, Iran prohibits the production and use of nuclear weapons.”  CNN, PressTV

— There are signs of another key shift in Iran’s political sands. Photographs of the Eid prayers ceremony show  Ayatollah Rafsanjani sitting in the front row just a few places along from the President . Rafsanjani has reportedly been heavily at odds with Khamenei and the regime of late and was barred from delivering the Qods Day Friday prayers sermon in Tehran. But at Friday’s Qods rally he clearly steered clear of anything green. Even more interesting was a list of participants at today’s ceremony put out by Fars news agency, which showed the attendance of Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson Hojatoleslam Hassan Khomeini. Not only does this appear to mark the first attendance at a ceremony involving Khamenei by a member of the Khomeini family since the election, but Hassan  has come under intense attack from the hardliners and was forced to cancel the annual Qadr nights ceremony at the mausoleum of Khomeini that he runs. Fars

— We’ll have to wait and see exactly how the sands have shifted, but how’s these pictures for a striking piggy-in-the-middle contrast? “It’s the Larijani show, and this week’s “Mr Powerful Who We Just Have to Follow to Protect Our Backs” is:

Ayatollah Rafsanjani … oh now wait a minute, sorry we THOUGHT he was the main man, but it turns out …

… that nice Mr Ahmadinejad is actually still the power player … er, isn’t he?

— The European Union on Sunday strongly condemned President Ahmadinejad’s comments denying the Holocaust and Israel’s right to exist. link

— Thirty-five protesters were arrested during the Qods Day rallies and charged with “damaging public property,” according to Brigadier General Azizollah Rajabzadeh, who said the suspects had been engaged in setting motorcycles and garbage cans on fire. PressTV

— Payvand reports a continuing campaign of arrests and media censorship, saying that two more members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front were taken in Tehran last night. “In the past ten days, children of many reformist activists have been arrested, children of senior members of the Participation Front as well as children of reformist clerics. Web journalists have also become a chief target of government arrests.” Payvand

— The reported abduction of the 18 year-old daughter of political prisoner Javad Emam and the claim that she was abandoned in a Tehran street with no money after 24 hours of interrogation was fabricated, her family now says. They claim the daughter was having “illusions”. However Mowjcamp said the change of story came after extreme pressure from the authorities, and that an attempt by NowRouz News to report the fact led to its website coming under crippling cyber attack. Mowjcamp

As if to add to the Supreme Leader’s discomfiture, he appears to have been outflanked by the rest of the religious leadership over when exactly the feast of Eid-e Fetr,  marking the end of Ramadan, occurs. In a statement hurried out late Saturday, Khamenei’s office said today is the day, stating that there had been enough sightings of the crescent moon – the sign for the festivities to begin – to give the go-ahead. But Iran’s top religious scholars stayed silent, indicating according to a gleeful  entry on Moussavi’s Facebook page that they think it is Monday. Then, one by one and virtually to a man they went for Monday, starting with Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and ending, most embarrassingly, with the grandest ayatollah of them all, Sistani. So the hardliners will have had their Eid today, the Greens tomorrow. Moussavi’s supporters  may not be the only ones seeing  another opportunity  to cock a snook at Khamenei, although the Pedestrian blog offers a more prosaic suggestion: Khamenei is up with the technology and happy to rely on telescope sightings of the moon, whereas the other clergymen are more traditional and believe the human eye should be the only instrument used. PressTV, Pedestrian

This is the emblem to rally people for Ahmadinejad’s  visit to New York. Moussavi’s Facebook  site has a long plea to Iranians in America  not to let the president sleep comfortably even for a night. Facebook

Israeli President Shimon Peres has told his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, that Israel would not launch an attack on Iran, the Russian leader said in an interview with CNN released today. Haaretz

President Ahmadinejad has formally appointed the controversial Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as Head of the Presidential Office, replacing Ali Saidlou.  Mashaie will also continue to be Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff.  PressTV

Iran has replaced the dollar with the euro for  the country’s foreign exchange accounts on the orders of President Ahmadinejad. According to PressTV  the edict was actually signed on September 12   and follows a similar ruling relating to oil transactions. The move, it is said, will “help decouple Iran from the US banking system”.  PressTV

A special committee has  been set up to investigate the recent  assassinations in the Kurdish capital,  Sanandaj, the new First Vice President  Mohammad-Reza Rahimi announced. He confirmed that Mamousta Sheikholeslam, a Kurdish representative on the Assembly of Experts, was shot dead by gunmen in a Sanandaj mosque on Thursday. Previously an interim Friday prayers leader had been killed and a local judge wounded in similar attacks, which Rahimi blamed on ‘malicious groups’ based outside the country.  PressTV

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society website has expressed mounting concern over the fate of a number of Ahwazi Arabs arrested by the Iranian security forces and tried in secret Revolutionary Courts on unknown charges. BAFS

The rogue Pakistan nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan has disclosed that it was former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who asked him to hand over the country’s nuclear know-how to Iran and North Korea. Deccan Herald

In more detail

Mowjcamp has an interview with a senior Lebanese cleric who says Velayat-e Faghih has damaged Lebanon as well as Iran.

The Baltimore Chronicle goes a little deeper into what President Ahmadinejad said  in his Friday prayers speech about Israel. Was it really as bad as the Western media made out?

NBC has now posted the full interview of Ann Curry with President Ahmadinejad, together with a full transcript.

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