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    Rising crime boosts fear in Iran; regime blaming US

    the national police to first deny the crime rate was rising and then to blame the increase in crime partly on the United States.

    The Majlis held an open session on crime Tuesday in response to news stories over recent weeks about rising rates of rape, assault and murder.

    Esmail Ahmadi-Moqad-dam, the national police chief, told the deputies, “The presence of superpowers and their agents who are promoting crimes such as drug use, sex and violence are factors in the rising crime rates.”

    But Moqaddam didn’t blame everything on the horrible Americans. He said the post-election disorders were also a cause, so the green opposition was also to blame.

    He said the murder rate was rising, but remained lower than in most other countries.

    Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, who oversees the police, complained, “The Americans and the other enemies of the revolution are constantly tying to paint Iran as an unsafe place.” He didn’t provide any quotes to back up his claim. Western governments regularly say Iran is unsafe for minorities and those who criticize the government, but the Iran Times has not seen any generalized charge that Iran is unsafe.

    The interior minister complained that the Iranian media have fallen into the trap of repeating western propaganda. But he acknowledged that crime rates have risen, citing economic, cultural and social reasons.

    Justice Minister Morteza Bakhtiari was summoned to the podium by deputies who thought that criminal trials should be speeded up. He said that could not be done and instead proposed muzzling the press to prevent publication of “exaggerated” stories about crime.

    Deputy Alaeddin Borujerdi said, “Criminals should be dealt with mercilessly and in public. Prison conditions should be very harsh and sentences against them should be issued with greater speed.” But the justice minister said speeding up court proceedings could only be done if the constitutional rights given the accused were cut back.

    The public fear of crime boiled over last week after a well-known strongman died from 50 stab wounds on a street in Karaj. Ruhollah Dadashi had won a major international contest that Iran had sponsored last year to put men through various tests to determine who was the strongest in the world.

    Last week, his car was stopped in a head-on collision. Three men emerged from the other car and a street fight with Dadashi ensured. Eyewitnesses said the battle lasted 40 minutes and ended when the three assailants overpowered Dadashi and stabbed him repeatedly.

    It wasn’t clear if the collision was an accident or part of a plan to confront Dadashi. Many in Iran thought the murder was political because Dadashi had given uncritical support to President Ahmadi-nejad and complained that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi was backing those who opposed the president.

    The police said they have arrested the trio who killed Dadashi. In a photo of the trio, all were small and appeared to be teenagers.

    Another crime that has drawn much public attention was the gang rape of several women in Khomeinishahr. News accounts said 12 men entered a private party in May, locked up the males and raped many of the women.

    While Police Chief Mo-qaddam acknowledged in his testimony that the crime rate was rising, his deputy, Ahmad-Reza Radan, had denied only days earlier that crime rates were going up.

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