Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rafsanjani campaign complains of arson and graffiti attacks

Daily Star:
Arsonists and gangs spraying graffiti are trying to undermine the presidential election campaign of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a party official has warned. Rahman Ranjbar, spokesman for a group of parties backing the comeback attempt of Iran's former president, said groups of men in civilian clothes and on motorbikes set fire to some 50 banners and posters at a party office in the capital.

They also sprayed graffiti, saying "Hashemi: NO." READ MORE

"Identical attacks took place in the cities of Semnan and Qazvin, and the provinces of Khorassan, West Azerbaijan and Sistan-Baluchestan," Ranjbar said.

No confirmation of the attacks was immediately available but anti-Rafsanjani graffiti has been seen across Tehran, mostly accusing him of being rich and corrupt.

Informal opinion polls have placed Rafsanjani, a pragmatic conservative, as leading the pack of eight candidates approved to run in the June 17 polls. Seen as running a distant second is former national police chief and hard-liner Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

With just over a week to go to the election, the embattled reformist camp meanwhile has moved to boost its meager chances by siding with a banned but tolerated liberal group.

The main reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), whose candidate is Mostafa Moin, has joined forces with the Iran Freedom Movement (IFM), said one of Moin's aides, Issa Saharkhiz.

He said the two groups had formed a "Front for Democracy and Human Rights."
"This front has been formed after several months of discussions with the religious-nationalist opposition," he said, the day after Moin held a final round of talks with the IFM's dissident leader, Ibrahim Yazdi.

Yazdi is facing charges of seeking to overthrow the Islamic regime and was barred from standing in the presidential election.

He was a close aide to Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during his final year in exile in 1978 in France, and served as foreign minister in the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan.

The Iran Freedom Movement, founded in the 1960s by Bazargan, is now banned in Iran because it questions certain principles of the Islamic Republic. But the group remains active.

The alliance between the IIPF and the IFM comes after Moin has already been radicalizing his campaign by flirting with Iran's so-called "red lines" - notably by questioning the powers of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Photo here.