Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Iran: Crackdown coming

Monday Morning:
Police in Teheran meanwhile declared they were to embark on a fresh crackdown targeting “open examples of corruption in tourist and recreation resorts around the Iranian capital.

Quoted by the student news agency ISNA, a senior police official said his forces would be on the hunt for “badly-veiled or unveiled individuals in and outside cars”, “sound pollution” and “shops and public places that ignore public chastity and Islamic values”.

The report said the summer anti-vice police sweep -- a regular event -- would also involve “collecting runaway girls and vagabond women and identifying places where corrupt people gather. READ MORE

State television said Brigadier-General Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, 44, would take over from Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who quit as police chief to make a run for the country’s presidency in last month’s elections. According to state television, Ahmadi-Moghaddam was appointed because of his “revolutionary record and commitments in the past years”.

“One of the most important duties of this force is to establish the nationwide security that the Islamic republic deserves and a calm and secure atmosphere for everyone,” the supreme guide noted in the order. Ayatollah Khamenei, who as Iran’s commander-in-chief also appoints key law enforcement and military officials, called on Ahmadi-Moghaddam to promote the quality of the police by hiring “faithful, revolutionary and efficient elements.”

Iranian media said Ahmadi-Moghaddam has served as commander of the Basij militia in Teheran and as acting Revolutionary Guards chief for the Basij militia, a volunteer force. He was on the frontline for the entire period of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, battled Iranian opposition groups and has also held senior commanding positions in the national police. He also holds a doctorate in strategic management from a military academy. Ghalibaf had led the police since 1999, during which he was credited with sprucing up the force by acquiring a large fleet of Mercedes Benz police cars and a wardrobe of neat uniforms.

Under Ghalibaf’s command, women joined the police for the first time, and he acquired a populist image by reportedly visiting Iranian cities in plain clothes and getting himself arrested as part of a personal bid to root out corrupt officers. But he also came under fire for continued reports of police brutality and his alleged backing of a crackdown on pro-democracy student demonstrators six years ago. His expensive presidential bid -- which saw him reinvent himself from a uniformed hard-liner into a populist technocrat -- was unsuccessful. He came a disappointing fourth out of seven candidates in the first round of the polls. The presidency was eventually won by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative who thrashed cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the June 24 run-off.