The London-based Arabic language newspaper "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" quoted 46-year-old Hussein Khomeini as saying: "Iran needs a new democratic regime that does not use religion to suppress the people."
The paper said that Khomeini made the remark from his residence in Al-Najaf, Iraq. Hussein Khomeini said his grandfather's successors in power in Tehran have abused the ayatollah's name to legitimize unjust regimes. He predicted Iran would soon face a new revolution.
The paper said that Khomeini, who sympathizes with the reformists and student protestors in Iran, has moved into a house in Al-Najaf once used by his grandfather when he was living in exile.
The Tehran office of the late Ayatollah Khomeini today vehemently denied the press reports, saying that Hussein Khomeini must have been misquoted.
Meanwhile in Tehran, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned today against what he called a danger of Islamic "fascism" in Iran.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Khatami as making the statement during a joint session of parliament and his cabinet yesterday.
Khatami said that the aim of the Islamic revolution is not to institutionalize fascism in the name of Islam and revolution or to brand anybody outside this framework as anti-Islamic and counterrevolutionary.
Hardliners in the Iranian regime have used their control of the judiciary to arrest scores of liberal activists on vague charges of disloyalty to Islamic and revolutionary values. They have also repeatedly closed reformist newspapers.
In Manila, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi today rejected Washington's accusations that it is running a clandestine nuclear weapons program.
Asefi told reporters on a visit to the Philippines that, "we are not looking for any military nuclear activity."
He also urged U.S. troops to leave the Gulf area, saying the countries of the region can assure stability and security there by themselves.
Asefi spoke as a team from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to arrive in Iran today to meet top Iranian officials.
The IAEA is urging Iran to allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities by signing an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. The visiting team is expected to clarify exactly what Iran will face if it signs the protocol.
Copyright (c) 2003. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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