Iran dismisses Western criticism of parliament vote

Iran on Monday dismissed as "biased" Western criticism of its parliamentary elections, in which conservatives won a majority after reformists were largely barred from the race. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's clerical leadership have painted Friday's election as a victory, pointing in particular to a moderate increase of turnout as a sign of popular support for Iran's Islamic republic. But reformists say the deck was stacked against them after the cleric-led Guardian Council threw out most of their candidates before the elections on grounds they were insufficiently loyal to Islam and Iran's 1979 revolution. The United States called the election "cooked" because of the disqualifications. The European Union said the vote was "neither fair nor free" and that the barring of candidates was a "grave violation" of international norms.