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Fraud Jokes Abound In Iran Parliament

Iranian lawmakers were in a joking mood as they convened this week to vote on President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's cabinet appointments.

Their joviality apparently was too much for state television, which reportedly cut its broadcast of the proceedings because the jokes were getting out of hand.

Recordings of some of the remarks that came before that cutoff have been posted on several websites.

One lawmaker jokes with parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, asking him whether mobile ballot boxes will be sent to arduous regions of the legislature. (Reformists highlighted the potential for vote fraud offered by mobile ballot boxes during the June 12 presidential election.)

Another lawmaker quips that "there has been no fraud, we're saying it right now."

In a reference to a detention center where many postelection detainees were reportedly held and mistreated, another says that "if you mention 'fraud,' we'll take you to Kahrizak." Some Iranians have alleged that they were raped and severely beaten by their captors at Kahrizak. The detention center was ordered closed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following criticism from the opposition.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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