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Iran Parliament Speaker says 'very few' students among rioters

Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi said in Tehran on Sunday that students were 'very few' in number at the recent unrest in capital Tehran and several other Iranian cities, which he blamed on the instigation of foreign media, IRNA reported.

Asked about the role of foreign media in the unrest, he said, "There is no doubt that they (foreign media) incited (the unrest).

"Foreign media encouraged (the rioters) and American officials bluntly said that they support the events," Karroubi said.

The Iranian parliament speaker was speaking to reporters who were covering protest sit-in of several students before parliament building to object to police detention of their classmates.

Karroubi said he had negotiated with the protestors and that state officials had decided to act in coordination on the recent events and follow up the issue.

Iranian police and other state bodies have pledged to seriously confront vigilantes who have reportedly assailed students and beaten them up.

Karroubi said according to a decision of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), only Information (Intelligence) Ministry and the police were authorized to confront the rioters.

The SNSC also decided that those arrested in connection with the unrest are turned over to the Intelligence Ministry officials, he added.

The cleric ruled out the possibility of any showdown between students and the establishment if their demands were not met.

"All the students whom you saw are children of the (Islamic) Revolution. You see how they treat the officials as well as their bonds with the establishment. They may have problems with a certain official or an institute, but they have no problem with the establishment as a whole.

"Some of them have been hurt by the arrest of their friends. But, we will naturally try to resolve this problem in line with the Constitution," Karroubi pledged.

The official also rejected tagging those arrested as Mohareb (those who fight against God), a charge which usually carries a death sentence under the Islamic Sharia law.

"It is not possible to label anybody as Mohareb," he said, adding the arrested students must instead be treated with 'Islamic compassion'.

Karroubi's remarks obviously come as a reaction to former judiciary head, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi's call on Iranian courts to treat the rioters as 'enemies of God'.

"I ask the head of judiciary and public prosecutors across Iran not to treat these people with compassion as they endangered the country's security. Islamic Sharia and our laws are explicit on what we should do with them," he said at the weekly Friday prayers in Tehran.

"The judiciary should deal with these people as Moharebs (those who fight Allah) and not as Mokhalef (opponents)," Ayatollah Yazdi added.

Karroubi sought to refrain from 'hurting the feelings of those families whose relatives have been arrested', while accepting that 'some of those among the arrested have been engaged in minor degrees of hooliganism'.

"I am not using the 'thugs and hooligans' tag, but I am advising families to watch for their children so that bitter incidents do not happen," he said.

Press Sunday cited a senior official as saying that police had arrested 520 people, including 18 women with records for repeated offenses, in Tehran in connection with recent unrest.

It cited provincial police chief, Brigadier General Mahmoud Japalaqi, as saying that only 10 of those arrested were students and the rest included 'thugs and hooligans'.

Among those arrested is an agent, as well as two accomplices, who worked for 'foreign countries' and passed information to foreign televisions, the Persian daily Mardomsalari cited the official as saying.

The detainees are aged between 17 and 25, most with 'no social identity', who had consumed alcohol and ecstatic drugs before the riots, Japalaqi said.

"The instigation of these youth by foreign agents is completely clear and we will not allow America and Israel to cause disorder in the country," the official said, the press added.

The daily also reported protest gathering of about 400 students at Allameh Tabatabie University on Saturday, under the watchful eyes of plain-clothes elements, who brandished batons.

The reports came as Tehran police chief, Morteza Talaie, said here Saturday that maximum security had been restored following several days of unrest.

... Payvand News - 6/22/03 ... --

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