Passionate Politics

Moderates and hard-liners square off in a power struggle for Iran's youthful hearts and minds

Washington may wonder if Iran's President Mohammed Khatami is really a reformer, but the country's mullahs have no such doubts. In the 11 months since Khatami's upset election victory, the conservative clerics who have long monopolized power have done all they can to prevent the more moderate Khatami from easing their doctrinaire, anti-Western rule.

Last week a showdown seemed imminent, as the ideological struggle over Iran's future spilled into the streets. Hard-line judicial authorities had jailed one of Khatami's closest allies, Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karabaschi, on corruption charges. Hundreds of students gathered at Tehran University's gates demanding Karabaschi's release. Police officials...

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