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Tehran Mayor in Switzerland

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jan. 24 – The Mayor of Tehran travelled to Switzerland on Thursday to attend the annual session of the World Economic Forum. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jan. 24 – The Mayor of Tehran travelled to Switzerland on Thursday to attend the annual session of the World Economic Forum.

Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, a one-time Brigadier General in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and current Tehran mayor, will hold meetings with mayors from other countries during his trip to Davos, the government-owned news agency Mehr reported.

Qalibaf was last in Davos in April 2007 when he met and held talks with Swiss Vice President and Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin.

Brigadier General Qalibaf commanded the IRGC Air Force until his appointment as commander of the para-military police, the State Security Forces (SSF), in 2000. In 2005, he became Mayor of Tehran.

Qalibaf ran in the 2005 presidential elections as a moderate, swapping military fatigues for Italian suits. But in the end, his new looks could not conceal the true character of the radical Islamist who has spent almost his entire career in the Revolutionary Guards. In July 1999, he and 23 other Revolutionary Guards commanders wrote a letter to former President Mohammad Khatami, urging him to “use every available means” to put down a nationwide protest movement led by pro-democracy students or “they would take matters into their own hands”.

In another open letter in 1997, Qalibaf and 32 other top Revolutionary Guards commanders praised Mohsen Rezai for his “services to Islam and Imam Khomeini” after he quit the ayatollahs’ ideological army to take up a top executive post under former President and strongman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

On his orders the paramilitary police force routinely conducted raids on homes for the purposes of confiscating satellite dishes, a rather common-yet-prohibited household item. Many in the population reported that, under Qalibaf, SSF units beat up and arrested anyone thought to be actively campaigning for lasting change in society. A number of student activists had also “disappeared” during this time, though there have been reports and it is widely believed that they were arrested and locked away or worse.

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