Don't Mess With Iran's Ayatullahs

Ever since the start of the war in Afghanistan, Iran--a country shunned by the U.S. since diplomatic relations were severed in 1980--has been widely portrayed as a beacon of moderation in the Islamic world. The political reforms introduced by President Mohammed Khatami and the quiet cooperation Iran has offered the U.S. since Sept. 11 have made the country seem a potential friend, even a model for how an Islamic republic can function as a democracy.

The shocking circumstances surrounding the death of Ayatullah Mohammed Hosseini Shirazi, however, make it clear that Iran's hard-liners still have the upper hand--and are as repressive...

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