Contradictions on democracy in Iran

12 December 2003
A senior Iranian cleric, who heads the country's top legislative body, on 12 December condemned calls from Washington to spread democracy in the Middle East, a day after President Khatami unusually endorsed Western-style democracy. 'They are lying - Do not be fooled by them,' said the leader of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati during his Friday sermon. 'Islam calls for justice, and this is what we understand.' Jannati said that western-style democracy and Islam were not compatible and used Algeria - which has been fighting Islamist insurgents since the army failed to recognise election results in 1992 - as an example of such a failure.

Jannati's comments came a day after Khatami said that democracy was acceptable under Islam. During a speech to in Geneva, Khatami called for religious tolerance, saying that: 'We can take [democracy] as Muslims - We must accept this has been materialised in the West, and we must accept this as Muslims.' (MEED 7:11:03)

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