TEHRAN - Iran's parliament was marred by heated scenes on Wednesday, after a conservative MP accused the government and some reformist deputies of being "Zionists" and supporting counter-revolutionaries.
Ali Emani-Rad, an outspoken hardliner who sits in the Majlis, denounced what he insisted was the "coordination" between reformists and foreign-based subversives, contacts between leading reformers and "CIA elements".
And in his speech carried live on state radio, he lashed out at efforts by "US and Zionist agents in parliament ... to weaken revolutionary organs, in particular the Revolutionary Guards" - the regime's elite ideological parallel army.
"The world oppressors (the United States) have united the enemies of the revolution and have sent them to us under the guise of reformists to make war against our religion and people," Emani-Rad charged.
And he predicted that in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for February 20, 2004, the reformists would lose their majority in the house.
"I am certain that the Iranian people will send these traitorous elements to the rubbish bin of history," he said, demanding that the Guardians Council - a conservative-run legislative oversight body - weed out such people from the electoral lists.
His speech sparked an angry response, with reformists demanding the president of the Majlis, reformist Mehdi Karoubi, to punish the hardliner.
"If any of these accusations were true, I would resign immediately and take off my turban," commented cleric and MP Hossein Ansari-Rad.