Saturday, July 31, 2010

Up to 600 national publications continuously attack government, complains regime's Deputy Islamic Guidance Minister

A senior official in the Ahmadinejad cabinet strongly denounced what he described as the 'undesirable situation of the press' in the Islamic Republic during a controversial speech to students at Qazvin's Imam Khomeini International University on Wednesday night, July 28, 2010.

Was he referring to the dozens of imprisoned journalists and banned newspapers? Think again.

'The government is criticized and even disparaged on a daily and weekly basis by at least 500 to 600 publications in the country in the strongest, sometimes insulting, terms,' complained Mohammad Ali Ramin, Deputy Islamic Guidance Minister in charge of the press, who is directly responsible for banning publications, towards the end of his question-and-answer session with the students, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Ramin also deplored the fact that there are too many publications in the country. 'In the period before me, the supervisory committee would issue 60 licenses during a one-hour meeting,' he said. 'We are now facing problems and some people have licenses over which there is no supervision. [...] Some of these publications which have obtained licenses are in the hands of individuals with no money and they become dependent on investors. The government must help them become absorbed into parties and organizations.'

Ramin, 56, was fairly unknown on the national stage until Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first term, when he became a presidential adviser. He allegedly contributed to Ahmadinejad's questionable positions about Israel and the Holocaust, and was the prime initiator of the infamous 2006 Holocaust conference held in Tehran, which was attended by such luminaries as Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. He headed Tehran's International Holocaust Foundation and was named deputy Islamic guidance minister last year.

Ramin lived in Germany from 1971 until 1994, when he was expelled from the country for unknown reasons, though some sources cite his activities in Islamist and neo-Nazi circles as the cause. He was jailed for a short period in 1982, again for reasons that have not been made public. He obtained degrees in engineering from Karlsruhe University and the Technical University of Clausthal, where he founded the Islamische Gemeinschaft in Clausthal (Islamic Community of Clausthal). It is said that during his time in Germany he forged close relations with neo-Nazi and extreme-right figures, including Benedikt Frings of the NPD (National Democratic Party), who was also a guest at the Holocaust conference.

For an individual whose devotion to the Islamic Republic and its principles was only exercised through a long-distance relationship for over 20 years, he has become quite a die-hard devotee of the concept of velayateh faghih (rule of the Islamic jurisprudent) and its embodiment Leader Ali Khamenei. 'The [Leader] has the position of surrogate of the Imam Zaman (NB The Mahdi or messiah of Shiites) and on his behalf must manage the world, in other words the imposition of God's proof upon humanity during the time of absence [of Imam Zaman],' Ramin said at the beginning of his address in Qazvin.

'We must find a way for the velayateh faghih system to manage the world,' Ramin told the students a bit later, obviously still enamored of the idea of world dominance with which he flirted in his younger days.