Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend roundup - Monday 5 October 2009

  • Unrest in Iranian universities continued despite threats and an increased security presence in the country's institutions of higher learning. On Sunday, Mohammad Javad Larijani was heckled at Sharif University as he prepared to give a speech. Larijani, brother of Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, heads the judiciary's human rights office [sic] and runs a research center at Sharif University, the country's top engineering school. Last week he had compared opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi to Massoud Rajavi, the unpopular leader of the MKO. Larijani had been invited to speak by Sharif University's Basij, but considerably more students showed up to tell him he was not welcome, completely drowning out the applause of a few hapless souls in the front seats of the conference hall:

    The students shouted 'Death to the dictator!' and 'The coup government must resign!':

    The protesters then filed out of the conference hall, leaving behind a few spectators to listen to Larijani:

    Fars News reported that in his subsequent speech Larijani had accused Mousavi of seeking to carry out a coup d'├ętat. Fars did not mention the student protest.

  • In a series of decrees issued this weekend, Leader Ali Khamenei shuffled top brass in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The most notable change concerned Hojattoleslam Hossein Taeb, the hated chief of the Basij, who was transferred to the IRGC intelligence unit. He was replaced by an equally controversial figure, General Mohammad Reza Naghdi. Naghdi was at the heart of the hardliners' battle against former reformist Tehran Mayor Gholam Hossein Karbaschi, a chief adviser of former President Mohammad Khatami, in 1998. At the time, he was counterintelligence chief of Iran's security forces, but was transferred after his role in the arrest and torture of Tehran's district mayors was divulged. He was also behind the assault on two of Khatami's ministers, Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri and Islamic Guidance Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, at Tehran Friday Prayers in 1998.

  • Apparently the tense atmosphere in Iranian universities is affecting government officials. According to the Amir Kabir Newsletter, Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini showed up for a ceremony in Kashan University without any prior announcement. The minister hastily left the campus after his official duties had ended.

  • According to Salam News, Saeed Hajjarian, the wheelchair-bound theorist of the reform movement who was released from prison on bail on Wednesday, has been grilling visitors about what really happened in the country since his arrest in the week that followed the disputed election of June 12. Hajjarian said that he was kept in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for a month, before being transferred to an unknown location for over two months where his only contact with the outside world was his interrogator. Hajjarian does not seem to have lost his legendary sense of humor. According to Salam News, he has been telling friends that his jailers did not even give him copies of the conservative Keyhan daily, 'which was fine with me.'

  • Friday's soccer derby between Tehran's rival teams, Esteghlal and Persepolis, turned into another opportunity for the green movement to protest. Live footage of the game included loud chants in favor of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. For a full report and videos, go to this previous post. The conservative news site Alef however ran a story claiming that BBC Persian had tried to make 40 protesters appear like 80,000. In a related story, Donyayeh Football (Soccer World) magazine's last issue was banned, although the magazine has not been officially shut down. The authorities have suggested that the magazine refrain from publishing for the time being. Various reports, including one in Parsine, allege that the reason for the restrictions on Donyayeh Football is an article in which the magazine claimed that 33,000 tickets to the derby had been reserved for 'certain official bodies.' Some counter-slogans, 'We don't want politics mixed with footabll!', were heard at the stadium as greens chanted 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein!'