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Iranian Government Seeks To Promote Solidarity

Washington, 22 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The Iranian government is acting to discourage further displays of ethnic unity and defiance by scheduling a massive march in Ahvaz on 22 April.

The march is to commemorate Solidarity Week, ISNA reported. This is the first time Iran has had a Solidarity Week and the timing is probably not coincidental, although this is Iran's "Year of National Solidarity and Public Participation."

Ahvaz also hosted a big military parade on 18 April, which was Army Day.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, who is an ethnic Arab, is visiting the Ahvaz area to look into the reasons behind the unrest that shook the city and the country's leadership.

Shamkhani said on 21 April that locals have decided to organize a "grand solidarity gathering," IRNA reported.

He stressed that ethnic Arabs are an integral part of the country but acknowledged that Khuzestan Province suffers from "underdevelopment and war destruction problems."