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Did Hassan Khomeini Punch Iran's Interior Minister In The Nose?

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

The fallout continues from Friday's heckling of the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, at a ceremony marking the 21st anniversary of his death. There's been more condemnation from reformist figures and clerics, including Mehdi Karrubi and Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, and reformist groups such as the Islamic Society of Tehran University, the Qom Seminary Society of Theologians, and the Society of Combatant Clerics.

In hospital? Iranian Interior Minister Mohammad Mostafa Najar

In a letter posted on his website and addressed to Khomeini, Karrubi expresses deep regret over the incident and says it was the work of a few organized and trained people. 

Sanei also condemned the disruption of Khomeini's speech and reportedly said in a telephone conversation with Khomeini that the disruption was the work of a group suffering from "political madness."

Hassan Khomeini before being shouted off the stage

The verbal shoutdown of Khomeini's grandson was an unprecedented incident in the Islamic Republic.

Some reports are claiming that another unusual incident happened following the disruption of Khomeini's speech.

The hard-line Javanonline is reporting that after Hassan Khomeini was forced to cut short his speech, he slapped Interior Minister Mohammad Mostafa Najar three times in the face and punched him in the nose. The report says Mohammad Ali Ansari, the coordinator of the event, also assaulted Najar. The reports says Najar has been hospitalized in the Iranian capital.

The Javanonline report, which was picked up by several other wbesites, might be an attempt to tarnish Hassan Khomeini, who has come under fire for his support for the Green opposition movement. His Facebook page over the weekend denied that any physical confrontation had occurred at Friday's ceremony.

The reformist Parlemannews quoted a source close to Khomeini as denying any scuffle, saying that upon seeing Najar, Khomeini told him, "Mr. Najar! I am Seyed Hassan Khomeini."

A few days before Friday's incident, Najar had reportedly dropped the name Khomeini while talking about the grandson of the founding father of the Islamic Republic, referring to him instead as Seyed Hassan Mostafavi, reportedly to downplay his ties to his grandfather.

The opposition Green Voice of Freedom website claims that on Friday Khomeini delivered "an unforgettable slap in the face to Ahmadinejad's interior minister" and told him, "I did this so that you will know my is Seyed Hassan Khomeini." The website says the incident took place in a corridor within Khomeini's mausoleum where the ceremony in his honor was held. 

Meanwhile, reports say conservative legislator Ali Motahari has come under pressure over his statement condemning the disruption of Khomeini's speech, in which he accused Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of playing a major role. Motahari has been criticized by hard-liners and pro-government websites including Rajanews, who are now referring to him as a supporter of the "sedition," the term used by pro-government figures to describe the Green Movement. 

Iran's official news agency reports that about 50 legislators have called for Motahari to be expelled from the fundamentalist faction of the Iranian parliament. 

Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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