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Reformist Rally Angers Some in Iran

By Hassan Sarbakhsian

Students in foreground, Hardliners in backgroundTEHRAN, Iran, May 24, 2000 (AP) - A confrontation between supporters of rival hard-liners and reformists in Iran's government ended peacefully Wednesday after police formed a human chain to keep the two sides apart.

About 200 hard-line supporters converged outside the locked gate of Tehran University, while some 2,000 pro-reform student protesters rallied inside.

The students chanted slogans against several leading hard-liners, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose votes in legislative elections were dramatically boosted in a recount by the hard-line election council that backs him.

Despite the gate, police formed a human chain to keep the rivals about 15 yards apart. Both sides chanted slogans and shouted profanities, and hard-liners tried to break through the police line and climb over the fence.

At least three students who were outside the gate were beaten by hard-liners. Their condition was not known.

``Hashemi, Hashemi shame on you, shame on you,'' the students roared, demanding his properties be seized. Reformists have accused Rafsanjani of corruption.

Both sides scattered peacefully after university officials pleaded with the students to disperse and police called on hard-liners to remain calm.

The outcome of the Feb. 18 polls has intensified the power struggle in Iran. Reformist allies of President Mohammad Khatami won about three-fourths of the 290 seats, taking control of parliament for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

An initial vote count showed Khatami's allies winning 29 of the 30 seats in the capital. The hard-line Guardian Council delayed endorsing the results, alleging widespread fraud. On Saturday, the council confirmed 26 reformist victories.