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Islam Experts to Vet Iran Legislation

July 15, 2001|From Reuters

TEHRAN — Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has set up a new assembly of Islamic experts to clear religious obstacles to legislation amid frequent disagreements between parliament and a clerical oversight body.

The Assembly on Jurisprudential Affairs will advise the Guardian Council, a conservative-run watchdog that reviews legislation, on the more complicated religious issues and ways to reconcile Islam with modern demands, newspapers reported Saturday.

Iran's reformist parliament has an uneasy relationship with the council, which tends to veto the assembly's more progressive rulings on religious grounds.

The Guardian Council has been accused by reformers of resisting President Mohammad Khatami's drive to put Iran on a path toward democracy and progress.

Several parliamentarians welcomed the formation of the assembly.

"Laws that are passed must correspond to society's needs. We need religious innovations and ideas to . . . break through deadlocks," the conservative daily Entekhab quoted lawmaker Majid Ansari as saying.

Hadi Qabel, a reformist member of parliament, said the new body will succeed only if it is multifaceted and politically neutral.

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