Index

DATE=8/7/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN PARLIAMENT (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-65217 BYLINE=DALE GAVLAK DATELINE=CAIRO INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Iran's conservatives are turning up the heat on their embattled reformist rivals, with the arrest of another journalist and calls to oust several lawmakers from parliament. Dale Gavlak reports from Cairo, the reformists say they will try to reach a compromise with Iran's top leader on press restrictions. TEXT: Several hundred members of an Islamic militia rallied at Tehran University in support of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They vowed to defend Ayatollah Khamenei with their lives, a day after he quashed the hopes of reformist members of parliament who want to ease a press crackdown imposed in April. They demanded that any lawmaker who insults the ayatollah be expelled. They also accused foreign governments of colluding with the press to spread false news, create social tension and undermine public opinion. The conservative-run state radio broadcast reports that Iranians across the country have condemned the behavior of lawmakers who sought to ease press restrictions. The radio says there are demands that the reformists be dismissed for insulting the sacred values of the revolution. Another conservative stronghold, the Tehran bazaar merchants, announced they would close down their shops for several hours Tuesday and demonstrate in front of parliament in support of Ayatollah Khamenei's decree. Reformist journalist Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, from the Hamshahri daily newspaper, became the latest victim of the press clampdown. Nearly a dozen police searched his home for articles and books. He was taken to prison for failing to present himself at the hardline press court. The judiciary has also ordered the four month closure of the pro-reform weekly Cheshmeh Ardebil, in northwestern Iran, on charges of disturbing public opinion and insulting Islamic virtues. President Mohamed Khatami says a free, independent press is among the most important reforms necessary to bring about a civil society. But hardline clerics have used the control they still retain over Iran's judiciary, especially the press court, to block such changes. Ayatollah Khamenei stunned the reform-led parliament by issuing a direct order banning it from changing the restrictive press law imposed by its conservative predecessor. The ayatollah says greater press freedom could give a foothold to enemies of Iran and destabilize the Islamic system. The reformists call the bill's suspension illegal, but say they acknowledge Ayatollah Khamenei's special status in Iran's constitution. The lawmakers say they may propose another bill or an amended version, at some other time. They say they may also press Ayatollah Khamenei for a meeting to discuss their concerns and try to reach a compromise. (Signed) NEB/DG/FC 07-Aug-2000 16:07 PM EDT (07-Aug-2000 2007 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .