Iran: November 15, 2002

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Six days of student protests against the death sentence for Hashem Aghajari are dragging the country closer to civil war.  Aghajari, a veteran of the war with Iraq, where he lost his leg and a brother, was condemned for questioning the veto power of religious conservatives have over the elected parliament and other government officials. The religious conservatives, hated for their corruption, economic mismanagement and enforcement of a puritanical lifestyle, have been unable to halt the increasing protests. The conservatives are now threatening to bring in their armed militias, like they did during the 1999 student demonstrations. The majority of the population doesn't want a civil war,  partly because they know they would be fighting religious fanatics, and partly because they fear this would bring about a harsh police state, run by corrupt Islamic fundamentalists. As much as a third of the population support the Islamic fundamentalists, and that's enough people, especially if armed with guns and fanaticism, to dominate the rest of the Iranians.