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Two Reformist Papers Shut Down Before Iranian Election

Tehran, 19 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's hard-line judiciary has shut down two of the country's main reformist newspapers on the eve of a controversial nationwide parliamentarian poll.

Tehran's public prosecutor shut down "Sharq" and "Yas-i No." The two dailies had published a letter written by reformist parliamentarians questioning the role of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the hard-line Guardians Council decision to disqualify some 2,300 reformist candidates from tomorrow's election.

Criticizing the supreme leader is a serious criminal offense in Iran.

Campaigning for seats in the 290-seat parliament officially ended at midnight yesterday. Out of the 5,625 candidates who are allowed to run, 888 have pulled out in protest. Iranian officials have called for a big turnout in the election.