Iranian authorities have launched a ferocious crackdown on dissent, targeting labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates and Iranian-Americans, The New York Times reported on its website late Saturday.
The newspaper said the administration of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been using US support for regime change in Iran as well as threats of a military attack as a pretext to hound his opposition.
Some analysts describe the crackdown as a “cultural revolution,” an attempt to roll back the clock to the time of the 1979 revolution, when the newly formed Islamic Republic combined religious zeal and anti-imperialist rhetoric to try to assert itself, the report said.
Attention has been focused on Ahmadinejad’s political enemies, like former president Mohammad Khatami and the controversy over his presumed violation of Islamic morals when he shook hands with an unfamiliar woman after a speech in Rome, the paper said.
Young men wearing T-shirts deemed too tight or haircuts seen as too Western have been paraded bleeding through Tehran’s streets by uniformed police officers, The Times said.
The country’s police chief boasted that 150,000 people were detained in the annual spring sweep against any clothing considered not Islamic, according to the report.
Eight student leaders at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University disappeared into Evin Prison starting in early May, the paper said.
Meanwhile, the Iranian National Security Council has sent a three-page warning to all the country’s newspaper editors detailing banned topics, including the rise in gasoline prices or other economic woes.
At least three prominent nongovernment organizations that pushed for broader legal rights or civil society have been shut down, while hundreds more have been forced underground, The Times noted.
Professors have been warned against attending overseas conferences or having any contact with foreign governments, lest they be recruited as spies, the report said.