Fake degrees, possible return and fruit prices

by Rasmus Christian Elling.

A selective glance at Iranian media, week 45/2008

While the Iranian Parliament was busy impeaching Interior Minister Kordan over the embarrassing case of a fake doctorate degree, and while Ahmadinejad was busy defending his controversial minister and closing weeklies critical of him and his government, the exile-Iranian news outlet roozonline.com stated that the Foreign Minister, Manuchehr Motakki, also has a fake degree. Although roozonline.com’s reporters are not always to be trusted, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if it were so – Iran’s many diploma mills taken into consideration.

Despite his own hesitation and despite critics saying it will be a suicide mission, former Pres. Mohammad Khatami might after all be forced to run for the presidency in June 2009. Large groups of artists and film-makers and a wide spectrum of pro-reformist/”Islamic left wing” parties and political figures – including people close to another former president (and former Khatami foe), Rafsanjani, alongside (formerly) prominent “moderate” mullahs and former student movement leaders – have created a so-called Third Wave movement to encourage Khatami to run again. Needless to say, there’s a distinct ‘former’ feel to all this. However, it may be too early to dismiss the so-called reform movement, even though it has been declared dead several times in recent years. Stay tuned for more on this.

On Friday, Tehran’s Friday Prayer Leader, Ayatollah Jennati – who is close to Ahmadinejad – claimed that some newspapers are ‘attacking the government’. According to Advar News, which is the media outlet of the alumni division of the Iranian student organization Daftar-e tahkim-e vahdat (The Office to Consolidate Unity), this is a signal foreboding further closures. Jennati followed up on the Supreme Leader’s statement that God will not forgive those who slander the government officials, saying that ‘dozens of newspapers are attacking the government and they say anything they please while claiming that there is no freedom. [Furthermore, these newspapers] are being applauded from abroad’. He too warned that ‘God will not easily forgive those who weaken the government’.

Normally, such a statement by such a high-ranking cleric can only mean one thing: Iranian media should brace itself for another round of closures and clampdown.

While fake Oxford degrees, rumors of Khatami’s possible return and of a coming media clampdown might keep some busy in Iran, another item is probably more illustrative of what concerns many more: The daily Sarmâye noticed that the price of fruit has increased with 40 to 140% compared to the same time last year.

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