Monday, November 2, 2009

Journalist beaten after touching raw nerve by photgraphing banners congratulating new governor

A journalist was savagely assaulted by guards outside the provincial governor's office in Oroumiyeh last week, according to Iranian news sites and the reporter's site Zolfaghar.

Ahmad Naghizadeh, journalist, member of the Association of Young Jurists, and a spokesman for the presidential campaign of former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai, was beaten by security guards as he tried to take photos of banners congratulating Vahid Jalalzadeh on his first day as West Azerbaijan's provincial governor on Tuesday.

Naghizadeh was photographing the banners with his mobile telephone when he was set upon by security guards on the sidewalk, before being dragged into the governorship and kicked repeatedly as he lay on the ground, according to Asreh Iran.

Naghizadeh is a self-described Principlist, a conservative who seeks a return to the principles of the revolution, and his site is filled with religious references including a clock which measures the time since the disappearance of the Shiites' Messiah, Imam Zaman. But the Principlists have been wracked with deep divisions between supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of which is the new governor Jalalzadeh, and those of a more pragmatic wing led by Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani. 'The ringleaders and assailants in this incident sought to take revenge on this Principlist media outlet for its recent actions in seeking justice and resisting oppression,' said Naghizadeh on his news site.

The Principlist news site Alef, which is run by Majlis Research Center head Ahmad Tavakoli, another conservative critic of Ahmadinejad, recently published an article asking who was footing the bill for lavish congratulation banners and messages published in the press for First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, a bĂȘte noire of the pragmatic Principlist wing which has accused Rahimi of forging his doctoral degree. Such criticism could explain the disproportionate reaction of the governor's guards.

West Azerbaijan's medical examiner referred Naghizadeh to a specialist for damage to his middle ear, according to the reporter's blog.

Naghizadeh has registered a complaint with the Prosecutor's Office. A court dropped all charges against him on Wednesday, after the Governor's Office had filed a suit for upsetting the peace.