2025 GMT: At the Movies. The Cannes Film Festival is honouring filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof --- both sentenced to long prison terms --- and Iranian officials are not amused.
Mohammad Hosseini, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance said, “The festival takes a political stance on certain specific cases, which is unacceptable and we condemn it. We think that since Cannes is an international event, it should keep its artistic and professional biases to itself."
Last week, Cannes organizers said they would show Rasoulof’s “Good Bye” and “This Is Not a Film”, Panahi’s depiction of a day in his life as he waits for the verdict of a court appeal.
Panahi will also be awarded the Carrosse d’Or (Golden Coach) prize by the SRF (Film Directors’ Society) in absentia as a tribute to the “innovative qualities, courage and independent-mindedness” of his work.
1955 GMT: Sedition Watch. Iran Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has declared that his forces are prepared for sedition on Sunday (25 Ordibehesht).
Students at a number of universities have declared that they will march on that day.
1945 GMT: So You Thought the Battle Was Over? The opposition site Rah-e Sabz has summarised the dispute we noted last night: legislators have claimed that bribes were offered to ensure funding in this year's Budget for the Supreme Council for Iranian Expatriates, founded by President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim Mashai.
1320 GMT: Today's All-is-Well Alert. Iran Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has claimed that the Green Movement is "dead".
Ahmadi Moghaddam's claim came as he outlined steps by the police to deal with "bad hijab" and sorcery.
1145 GMT: Parliament v. President. Aftab reports the latest shot by Parliament against the Government's attempted merger of Ministries. A letter warns Ministers that they do not have the right to interfere in affairs of other Ministries.
President Ahmadinejad is standing firm, however. Despite the challenge of Parliament and the Guardian Council, he did not invite the Oil, Welfare, and Industry Ministers to Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.1045 GMT: The Battle Within. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, former Ahmadinejad advisor and now head of State news agency IRNA, has criticised the spread of rumours --- under the guise of "informed sources" --- that has cast the "shadow of fear and anxiety" amongst Iranians.
0845 GMT: Parliament v. Government. The Guardian Council has backed Parliament's objections to the Government's merger of eight Ministries into four (see 0620 GMT).
The head of the Council, Ahmad Jannati, wrote in a letter to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani that no changes should be made without the endorsement of the Majlis. Legislators have complained that the Government did not consult them before announcing the mergers.
Jannati added, "Ministers of new or merged ministries are regarded as new ministers and are required to obtain votes of confidence from Majlis.”
0640 GMT: Campus Watch. Students at the School of Engineering at Tehran University have reportedly boycotted the cafeteria to protest a gender-separation plan.
0635 GMT: Human Rights Watch. US State Department officials testified on Wednesday before a Congressional committee about "Human Rights and Democratic Reform in Iran".
Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner and Deputy Assistant Philo Dibble outlined cases such as the 20-year sentences imposed on members of the Baha'i faith: "Iranian authorities continue to harass, arbitrarily detain, torture and imprison their citizens, as well as some of ours".
And the US response? 1) Continued attention to sanctions, including upon named individuals; 2) Action through the United Nations Human Rights Council, including the naming of a Special Rapporteur on Iran; 3) "Quiet" work with civil society activists "to foster freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet and via other communication technologies".
0620 GMT: President Ahmadinejad may have made a public submission to the authority of the Supreme Leader on Sunday, but it has done little to ease the political conflict. We were kept busy last night by a stream of reports of further clashes within the establishment, from Parliament's new confrontation with the Government over merger of ministries to a fight over Ahmadinejad aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai and his control of the Supreme Council of Iranian Expatriates to tension between Rahim-Mashai's supporters and those of Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf (see Wednesday's LiveBlog).
The Associated Press summarises the fight over the Government's move, without consulting Parliament, to merge eight Ministries into four. Ahmadinejad officials announced the combination of the Industries and Mines Ministry with the Commerce Ministry, the Housing and Urban Development Ministry with the Roads and Transportation Ministry, the Welfare and Labour Ministries, and the Oil and Energy Ministries.
This culminated in President Ahmadinejad's verbal attack on Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani last night: “The Parliament speaker assumes he is the law. This is not correct....One can’t interpret the law the way he wishes and impose it on the government."