Iran: March 17, 2004

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celebrations. 

Reformist president Mohammad Khatami admitted that his plans for reform have failed. The Guardians Council, composed of unelected religious leaders, can veto any legislation passed by the parliament, and have done so repeatedly. The Guardians Council would not even allow suspected reformist candidates run for the recent parliamentary elections, so most Iranians did not vote,  giving conservative members of parliament a control. The majority of the population views their government, now controlled by the Islamic conservative minority, as illegitimate and corrupt. Since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah (king), religious organizations have seized the Shah's wealth, and that belonging to many of his wealthy followers. These businesses have been run (badly in most cases) for the benefit of Islamic conservative religious leader, their families and followers. The economy has declined, and the people are not happy. There is more violence in the streets, as gangs of young men fight each other over reforms. The government has organized street gangs, composed of young men who are Islamic conservatives, paid to break up pro-reform demonstrations by force and attack any groups that openly oppose the rule of Islamic conservatives. It is feared that a series of street brawls will escalate and lead to another mass revolution like the one in 1979.

Already, there are riots and attacks on local religious leaders in towns and cities that do not have a lot or religious conservatives, or a local Islamic conservative militia unit (the Basj, which provide the manpower for

 

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