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democratic Donating Member (486 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-04 07:47 PM
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Khatami's brother backs a Secular Iran
Middle East On-line

MADRID - The time has come for Iran to have a secular state in place of the Islamic regime in place since the 1979 overthrow of the Shah, Spanish daily El Pais on Wednesday quoted the brother of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami as saying.

Asked by an El Pais correspondent if the time had come for a government non-religious in composition Reza Khatami, parliamentary vice-president and leader of the main reformist party as well as the president's younger brother, responded simply: "Yes."

Reza Khatami is one of 80 sitting MPs whom the conservative and unelected Guardians Council watchdog have barred from standing in Friday's poll.

In the light of that decision Reza Khatami dubbed the election "illegal, unjust ... and "a farce without liberty."

He called on his brother "to be stronger in the face of the new conservative parliament" he expects to win the poll.

Asked by El Pais if he feared imprisonment for speaking out Reza Khatami said the regime "has sufficient tensions to bear and has no need to create more.

"They can fill the prisons but reforms will continue," he insisted.

Iranian reformists, grouped around President Khatami, are bracing for defeat in Friday's parliamentary elections amid pressure from the Islamic republic's hardline judiciary.

Mohammad Khatami appealed to Iranians on Monday to turn out for the vote, notwithstanding that they are unable to vote for some of the candidates of their choice.
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