Liberal new prexy means glasnost for Iranian biz

CAIRO — Iran’s recent presidential election, with its overwhelming win for liberal candidate Mohamed Khatami, would appear to spell good news for Iranian show business, which has often been stifled and heavily censored during 18 years of clerical rule.

Khatami’s past history certainly points in this direction. He was Minister of Culture for 10 years, during which time he developed close relations with filmmakers, writers and other artists and gave them considerable latitude.

So much latitude, in fact, that hard-liners in the clerical establishment engineered his ouster from the post in 1992 for “laxity” — and ironically one of those critics was none other than Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the speaker of parliament and presidential candidate whom Khatami so soundly trounced in the May 23 election.

Khatami’s campaign, which was based on a message of tolerance and open-mindedness, was seen as a major upset for the hard-line Islamic establishment.

He won some two-thirds of the vote, much of it coming from intellectuals, women and the young set (about 60% of Iran’s 60 million population is under 30 years of age), many of whom are tired of the repressive and often arbitrary actions by the authorities in such matters as censorship of films, television, music, books and the press.

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