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FM says floggings may hurt Islam's image

TEHRAN, Aug 21 (Reuters) Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said on Tuesday a wave of public hangings and floggings in may paint a "violent image" of Islam in the world.

The moderate minister issued the warning in widely anticipated talks with the hardline judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, Iran's IRNA news agency said.

"I told the judiciary chief that we should not impose Islamic rules in a way that would show a violent image of Islam," Kharrazi told IRNA.

"When we speak of negative repercussions abroad, we do not mean that we should act to the wishes of other countries. No country has the right to protest against the implementation of Islamic rules in Iran," he said.

There have been a wave of public hangings of convicted murderers and street floggings of mostly young men charged with consuming alcohol or "harassing" women.

Hardline clerics have defended such punishments as an essential part of Islamic strictures and a deterrent to rising crimes and breaches of Islamic teachings in Iran.

But President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist allies have denounced them as anachronistic and possibly harmful to Iran's image abroad at a time when the country seeks foreign investment to improve its stagnant economy.

Kharrazi said he had submitted to the judiciary a guideline on "implementing Islamic rules in a way that would not have an adverse effect".

"These rules should be implemented in a way that is both supported by the public and does not have negative consequences in our foreign relations," he said.

Kharrazi said earlier this week his ministry was gauging international reaction to the public hangings and floggings.

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