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Khatami Critical of Treatment of Iranian Youth - 2001-08-19

Iran's president is criticizing Iranian conservatives for what he calls repressive measures against the nation's youth. The criticism follows a recent police crackdown that led to public floggings.

"In a society where there is poverty, discrimination and illegal profits, you can not expect young people to be perfect."

Those were the words of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, following a crackdown on youth by police and the nation's conservatives.

During the past several weeks, about 200 young Iranians have been publicly flogged for such offenses as drinking alcohol and harassing young women. Published reports say some of the youths were whipped between 45 and 100 times.

Speaking to Iran's parliament, President Khatami said "Harsh and repressive measures will not help us fight corruption among young people. We all need to cooperate to find a solution."

The campaign against young people has drawn the anger of ordinary citizens and started a new dispute between Iran's conservatives and reformists.

The president's comments came during a speech setting out the main goals of his second four-year term.