INTRODUCTION: In Iran, the Islamic authorities have imposed strict new regulations to control behaviour during the holy period of Ramadan, which began last Friday(3 July).
SV Majlis speaker Rafsanjani leading prayers
SV Prime Minister Rajai, centre, white shirt praying
SV PULL BACK GV Rafsanjani
GV PAN Crowd praying
SV Ayatollah Gilani, wearing white turban
SV Crowd with picture of Ayatollah Beheshti, who died in recent Majlis bombing
SV Rafsanjani speaking in Farsi, as crowd listens (2 shots)
GV Chanting crowd
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Background: INTRODUCTION: In Iran, the Islamic authorities have imposed strict new regulations to control behaviour during the holy period of Ramadan, which began last Friday(3 July). Heavy punishments have been pledged and special patrols organised to enforce observance of Islamic teachings during Ramadan. In a separate developments, the authorities' campaign against foreign journalists in Iran culminated on Tuesday (7 July) with the expulsion of the entire Teheran bureau of Reuters Newsagency.
SYNOPSIS: Traditional Friday prayers, led by Hojatoleslam Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Majlis (parliament) marked the beginning of Ramadan. Mohammad Ali Rajai, the Iranian Prime Minister, attended the prayers, along with thousands more in Teheran. Ramadan is a period of atonement, when Moslems make their peace with God. Although it was observed under the Shah, Ramadan has gained new importance here since the Islamic revolution.
This year the law will enforce Ramadan. Special patrols are planned to tour the streets to ensure no-one eats, drinks or smokes in public. Islamic courts under Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani have promised offenders a whipping for their first three offences and heavier punishments thereafter. Restaurant are to be closed, and hotel guests have been told to eat in their rooms. Western music has been banned, and men and women ordered to dine separately.
During the prayers, a large crowd gathered to hear Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani. Since the fall of former President Bani-Sadr, the clergy in Iran have greatly strengthened their power. In a crackdown on their opponents, the authorities have ordered a series of executions, largely of left wingers. More than 130 have been executed int he past 17 days. The authorities have also moved against foreign journalists working in the country. Allegations that foreign journalists were CIA spies were followed on Tuesday by the closure of Reuters' Teheran bureau. It was accused of transmitting "false news reports".