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MPs ask President Khatami to name Sunni ministers in new cabinet

Tehran, July 15, IRNA -- Some 78 Iranian lawmakers have called on President Mohammad Khatami to allocate an appropriate share to the Sunni minority of the country in his major cabinet scheduled for August.

In the letter, a copy of which faxed to IRNA Sunday, the deputies have stated, "the Sunni community is seriously expecting the president to give them a share in his cabinet."

"Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is proud of having quite delicately and artistically presented a model of Islamic democracy to the world," the letter said.

"Our Sunni brethren have always maintained their strong presence at all scenes of the 1979 Islamic revolution whose slogan was establishment of a democratic religious system in Iran."

The signatories have also praised the Sunni minority for their massive turnout in the June 8 presidential polls which swept President Khatami to office for another four-year mandate.

President Khatami is due to announce his new administration in August.

Reformist MPs have ruled out the idea of forming a cabinet which contains a spectrum of mainstream political parties of the country, saying "meritocracy" should be the criteria for choosing new ministers.

"Our Sunni brethren strongly believe that their active and lively presence in the state affairs before and after the Islamic revolution have had a share in the developments," the letter said.

Although Shi'ite Islam has been the state religion since the 17th century, the Sunnis account for about eight million of Iran's roughly 65 million people.

Last week, an MP from western city of Mahabad Rahman Behmanesh complained of alleged discrimination against Iranian Kurds, saying they were being neglected when it came to the allocation of the state budget for national reconstruction.

Most of Kurds are Sunni in the Shia majority country and are given equal rights in the Islamic Republic's constitution.

Iranian Kurds are mostly located in mountainous areas in western Iran, neighboring Turkey and Iraq.

There are other ethnic groups in the country, mostly Azaris who number more than 20 million, as well as Turkmen, Arabs, Baluchis, Armenians and nomadic groups.

... Payvand News - 7/15/01 ... --

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