Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Feb 2000 to 6 Feb 2000

From: Automatic digest processor

There are 14 messages totalling 966 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Going Overboard
2. BADAMCHIAN: Leftist Policies Have Failed
3. Yet Another Murder
5. 1 Killed, 5 Injured in Tehran Explosions
6. 495,000 Job Opportunities to Be Provided Next Year
7. KHATAMI:Writers' Needs Must Be Met
8. Iran Supplies More Than Half of S. Africa's Oil Demand
9. Growing Power Demand Requires Investment of $8b
10. Successful Debut for Iran's Carpet Exhibition in Athens
11. ITALIAN FM: Ties With Tehran Important for Rome
12. Iranian Hard-Liners Fight Cartoons
14. Appeal for Urgent Steps to Stop Persecution of Iranian Journalists

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 08:24:16 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Going Overboard


Going Overboard

The country has once again been plunged into a crisis on the eve of the
eventful elections for the Sixth Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis).

Up on the publication of Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi's speech, alleging a top CIA
official's arrival in Iran to help the Iranian domestic press with a suitcase
full of dollars, a chain reaction was set off and certain extreme stances
were adopted. These nasty and vindictive counteroffensives went as far as to
force the minister of Islamic Guidance to request that the relevant
authorities, and even the ministry of information, should look into the
authenticity of the allegation. Much to everybody's regret, the irate press
bosses pressed on with their barrage despite Mr. Mesbah's later implicit
explanation that he was only referring to a hypothetical situation and there
was not a grain of truth in it. The press, nonetheless, continued to scream
blue murder. It was obvious that they had made up their minds to draw blood.
Much to their dismay, the slip made by Azad daily suddenly reversed the
situation and the unremitting offense-minded press were forced to fight a
rearguard action. Now it was their turn to explain away their blunder.

Sad to say, it seems as though it is not so easy for a lot of people to be
wise after the event . Mr. Mesbah's staunch followers appear resolved in
their determination to follow this path all the way to the bitter end. Even
the immediately forwarded effusive apology from Azad daily's cartoonist,
Nikahang Kossar, and the paper's managing director, Mohammad-Reza Yazdanpanah
could not appease the holier-than-thou mobs. The sweetest winning in a
contest is the one won hands down! Must we always kick our adversaries even
when they are down? What they seem to be actually shooting for is the
resignation of Mr. Mohajerani.

According to the latest news, Mr. Nikahang was summoned to the Press Court
and was later transferred to Evin prison. In all probability, Azad daily
would be closed down too! Unfortunately, this fiasco is rooted in the fact
that our press appear to be completely ignorant of certain basic
considerations. The red line markings lose their meaning in pitched battle.
Last, but not least, the lusty craving for an all out and decisive victory
among individuals of the two opposing camps leaves no room for them to
suffice to a simple walkaway. A well tutored politician of today in our
modern world should definitely learn when to call it quits and rest on his

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 08:26:10 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: BADAMCHIAN: Leftist Policies Have Failed

BADAMCHIAN: Leftist Policies Have Failed


TEHRAN - "We believe that, unfortunately, our friends' (reformers) economic,
social, cultural and political policies have failed," Assadollah Badamchian,
a founding member of the rightist Islamic Coalition Association (ICA), told
IRAN NEWS in a recent interview.

"This is my personal assessment, which is not to say that they have not
served the nation," he maintained, adding that in the last two decades the
(Islamic) system had been generally successful, but further progress is
expected in the third decade of the Revolution.

The former deputy chief of the Judiciary claimed that the leftists had caused
a slow down in the pace of development since they took power almost three
years ago.

Emphasizing that economic reforms are urgently needed, he said: "It has also
been proven in other countries that whenever the economy progresses, other
sectors follow suit."

ICA's senior member stated: "Unfortunately, some of our friends (leftists),
whom I consider to be `pseudo 2nd of Khordad' groups, have managed to turn
the elections into confrontation, providing material for foreign media's

He said the same groups are at odds even with President Khatami, and claim
that they have switched from their previous position of solidarity with the
President to one that is critical of him. "Thus the group that presented
itself as the sole supporter of President Khatami lost a great deal of its
prestige in the eyes of the public," Badamchian maintained.

He said the reformists' poor performance in reducing unemployment and
resolving youth-related issues, as well as their lack of progress in
political and cultural development, is quite apparent. "They have not done
much except a lot of propaganda," he claimed.

Badamchian maintained that an accurate prediction of the outcome of the
parliamentary elections is not possible, but said that a coalition of
candidates following the line of the late Imam Khomeini and the Leadership
has the best chance of being elected. This coalition, with Mohammad Reza
Bahonar as its spokesman, is made up of the groups aligned with the right

To prove his point about the unpredictability of free elections, he pointed
to the fact that in the Third Majlis the leftists were in charge of almost
all positions of power: "Karrubi was the Majlis speaker, Musavi-Ardebili was
in charge of the Judiciary, Mir-Hussein Musavi was the prime minister, but
the people's vote in the elections for the Fourth Majlis turned out to be
against them. Also, the outcome of the (last) presidential elections defied
all predictions."

The ICA member maintained that his association's general policy is one of
understanding and cooperation with the rightist Jame-e Rowhaniat-e Mobarez
(JRM). He said: "JRM is not a political party and acts on the basis of
Islamic principles when dealing with the problems of the system and serving
the people."

Badamchian said ICA and JRM have had a close working relationship for almost
40 years based on Islamic tenets, and added that there is no reason for the
two groups to fall out, "even if we disagree on some issues we will resolve
our differences." He denied the report that said ICA plans to come up with
three lists of candidates. "The list is being finalized and will be made
public Sunday (today)," he said.

ICA secretary-general, Habibollah Asgarowladi, is scheduled to announce the
list during his press conference in Tehran today.

Badamchian concluded by stating that Hashemi-Rafsanjani has worked closely
with ICA for a long time and is accepted and approved by the association.


In the Pace of Development

JRM Acts on the Basis of Islamic Principles When Dealing With the Problems of
the System and Serving the People

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 08:27:30 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Yet Another Murder

Yet Another Murder

HAMSHAHRI * This Municipality-affiliated daily reported that an employee of
the Justice Department, Ibrahim Zalzadeh, also the managing director of Meyar
daily, was stabbed to death by unknown assailants on a Tehran highway.
Political observers believe though that the murder is related to and thus
should be included in the last year's serial killings committed by Saeed
Emami's gang. Zalzadeh's case, however, has not been sent to the Armed Forces
Judiciary Organization which investigates the murders.

A number of dissident writers, as well as a veteran politician and his wife
were killed last year by renegade agents of the Intelligence Ministry led by
former deputy minister Saeed Emami who later committed suicide in prison.

No Evidence for Cleric's Allegation

SOBH-E EMROOZ * This leftist daily quoted Hassan Rowhani, secretary of the
Supreme National Security Council, as saying that the council has no evidence
of the "visit of the former head of CIA to Iran to pay off hundreds of
thousands of dollars to the reformist newspapers," which was claimed by a
senior cleric, Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi, recently.

He added that for such claims, strong evidence must be offered.

Daily to Stop Publishing for 3 Days

AZAD * This pro-Khatami daily reported that its managing director and staff
are committed to all the "values and laws of the country and respect national
figures." To prove this point, the daily has decided to stop publishing for
three days in order to prove its innocence and also alleviate the currently
tense political atmosphere created by some just ahead of the upcoming
parliamentary elections.

Azad daily published a cartoon allegedly of Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi who
claimed recently some dailies receive money from the United States.

Advice from Minister

ENTEKHAB * This rightist daily quoted an editor with Azad daily as saying
that the temporary closure of Azad daily has been upon a recommendation by
Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani.

Unlucky Press Being Squeezed Again

SOBH-E EMROOZ * Hojjatoleslam Ayazi, a Qom Seminary instructor, said if
someone releases a caricature without the intention to insult anyone, he or
she is not subject to prosecution. He added the hue and cry over a cartoon in
Azad daily is aimed at pressuring (intimidating) the press on the eve of the
upcoming Majlis elections. Unfortunately, the IRIB is also following this
line. However, the clergy are too smart to be influenced by such ploys, he

Rally Came Just in Time

FATH * This pro-Khatami daily said that the recent rally in Qom took place at
a time when the press criticism of Mesbah-e Yazdi's allegations was rising.
"How come the newspapers belonging to a certain faction (the Right) insult
the political figures and clerics [of the Left], but no rally is ever
organized against them?"

Mesbah Likes Halloween Parties?

FATH * Issa Saharkhiz, former director-general of the Press Department at
Culture Ministry, said Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi is quite informed about the
security and political intricacies of the United States due to his numerous
visits to that country in the past. He added, "In one of the trips, when
Mesbah wished to travel to America from Canada, he was refused an entry visa
and had to return to Iran. He was indeed interested in the U.S. culture to a
degree that he once took part in a Halloween party wearing a suit."

Impeach Mohajerani!

ABRAR * This rightist daily asked: "Why does Mohajerani smile when newspapers
insult the Ulema? It added that it was high time that MPs impeach Mohajerani
after the Majlis resumes activity so that a golden page would be registered
in the 6th Majlis profile.

The Parliament is closed until after the Majlis elections.

Peace Between ECP, IIPP

IRAN VEIJ * Saeed Hajjarian, a member of the Islamic Iran Partnership Party
(IIPP), said thanks to the efforts of the former Tehran mayor, Gholamhussein
Karbaschi, the Executives of Construction (ECP) and the IIPP have reached an

Karbaschi began serving a two-year sentence last May after his conviction for
embezzlement and mismanagement in a trial slammed by reformers as a political
move by the conservative-controlled Judiciary. He was pardoned recently by
the Supreme Leader.

Hassani's Food for Thought

SOBH-E EMROOZ * Gholamreza Hassani, Urmia Friday Prayer leader, said: "Why do
they (the press) keep on talking about last year's serial killings of some
heathen anti-revolutionaries, but they do not mention the murder of a woman
who was killed by his own husband by an ax because she had declined to
transfer the house ownership deed to him?" Moreover, he added that Bill
Clinton was disqualified by "U.S. Guardian Council" since he was a draft
dodger and did not go to Vietnam.

ECP Not Popular in Qom?

SOBH-E EMROOZ * The ECP headquarters in Qom Province was ransacked by an
unidentified group. The intruders went on to break the windows and tear up
the party's advertising posters.

We Will Be Friends After Elections!

FATH * Habibollah Asgarowladi, secretary of the Islamic Coalition
Association, said the Majma-e Rouhaniyoun-e Mobarez (MRM) and Jame-e
Rouhaniyat-e Mobarez (JRM) have decided to postpone forming a coalition until
after the Majlis elections. Thus, each would campaign in the parliamentary
elections independently. They do not have joint candidates in their
respective lists as this would only create further tension in the society, he

Dead People Won't Talk!

ABAN * This leftist weekly said some agents behind last year's serial
killings have been murdered by Saeed Emami's gang so that the police could
not find clues needed to solve the case.

The weekly did not give any details.

Order from Above

ABAN * The officials of Mellat daily were "ordered from above" not to publish
the newspaper until after the Majlis elections. The newspaper was to start
publishing before the polls.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 08:28:06 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM


The Expediency Council (EC) Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani instructed the
EC supervisory and investigative commission to probe full implementation of
the EC-ratified law on clear investigation into the complaints of rejected
hopefuls for next parliamentary elections.

In pursuit of a letter sent to the EC chairman by Interior Minister
Abdolvahed Musavi Lari on the need to observe the law on clear investigation
into the complaints lodged by disqualified candidates, Rafsanjani obliged the
EC commission to follow up the case.

A part of Lari's letter to Rafsanjani reads that based on the information
available, unfortunately the main provisions of the EC-ratified law have been
ignored on some occasions in the course of investigating the competency of a
number of candidates by the supervisory board and the Guardian Council.

Secretary-General of the Islamic Association of Women Fatemeh Karrubi
yesterday said that there is no harmony between the number of women members
of Parliament and women population in the country.

Mrs. Karrubi said women should constitute at least one-third of the Majlis
deputies in order to play a more effective role in defending women's rights
and pushing for approval of relevant laws.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi Lari Friday called on the boards
monitoring the February 18 parliamentary elections in Iran to deal with any
electoral violation with no connivance.

Addressing an administrative session in the city of Qorveh, in Kurdestan
Province, Musavi Lari said that all should behave in such a way that people
be convinced their vote will be determining in the fate of Majlis

He said that experience of the past elections shows that the system is being
administered by reliance on the vote and will of the people.

Qom Sit-in Ends Upon Leader's Urging

* Cartoonist Held by Press Court


TEHRAN -- A sit-in staged by theology students in the holy city of Qom in
protest to a caricature believed to have insulted a senior cleric, ended upon
the Supreme Leader's intervention yesterday.

The Leader, in a message to the protesters read by senior Qom cleric,
Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, called on the protesters to end their sit-in.

The Leader in his message also stressed the need for revision in the cultural
policies of the government.

The students of the theological center had earlier called on President Seyed
Mohammad Khatami to sack the Minister of Culture and the Islamic Guidance
Ataollah Mohajerani.

The protesters said their demand is not limited to closure of a daily or an
apology from several "anti-Islamic" papers or "those run by the agents of the
world arrogance" because the officials of the Islamic Guidance Ministry have
adopted a policy to give way to the journalists of the closed papers to
proceed with their conspiracy in other new papers published immediately after
the closure of the former ones.

The cartoonist, Nik Ahangh Kosar was ordered held at a Tehran Evin Prison by
a Press Court.

The cartoonist appeared in court with Azad director Mohammad-Reza
Yazdanpahan, who was free to go after the hearing but may yet face charges
over the affair.

Yazdanpahan told AFP he had explained to the court that there was "no
malicious intent" in the caricatures.

The affair has sparked angry demands for the dismissal of Culture Minister
Ataollah Mohajerani.

In the meantime, the Society of the Instructors of Qom Seminary supported the
sit-in protesters in another statement castigating what they called
desecration of sanctities and disrespect for the religious personalities.

The instructors of Qom Seminary called for fundamental changes in the
country's cultural atmosphere.

In a statement faxed to IRNA, the theologians referred to the upcoming
parliamentary elections (slated for February 18, 2000) and emphasized the
need for prevalence of tranquillity and calm.

The theologians urged certain segments of the press not to hurt the
sentiments of the public by publishing anti-Islamic articles and
disrespecting the religious personalities and called for action to be taken
to stop the current process in the cultural domain.

Meanwhile, in another development, Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, addressed the
protesting theological students saying that even at the time of the toppled
Pahlavi regime, the clerics and the seminary were never insulted whereas now
under the Islamic government certain segments of the press have targeted
Islam and divine laws.

He further said that some of those involved in the press were deviated people
who wrote only against Islam and the Islamic rules in a country that has
offered 100,000 martyrs to defend the God's religion.

Stressing the support of the society of instructors for the protesting
theological students, he said it was likely that some have been instigated to
make provocative remarks in a bid to foment tension in the country

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 08:28:42 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: 1 Killed, 5 Injured in Tehran Explosions

1 Killed, 5 Injured in Tehran Explosions

* Terrorist MKO Claims Responsibility


TEHRAN - Several explosions occurred in southern Vali-e Asr Avenue in Tehran
killing one and injuring five pedestrians, IRNA reporter.

Eyewitnesses told IRAN NEWS that they had heard the sound of seven
explosions, four of which were very strong. They also said that the windows
of a pickup truck and a passenger car were shattered and a bus after the
first couple of the bombs went off let all the passengers out. According to
eyewitnesses, the five injured were among the bus passengers wounded after
they got off the bus. A printing shop worker, 21 year old Dariush Pour
Mohammad-Jani was the only fatality in the explosions, the same witnesses

Meanwhile, AFP reported from Nicosia that the armed Iranian opposition group,
the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), said its members attacked
the offices and residential quarters of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Seyed Ali Khamenei in Tehran yesterday.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 12:08:51 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: 495,000 Job Opportunities to Be Provided Next Year

495,000 Job Opportunities to Be Provided Next Year


TEHRAN -- Mohammad-Ali Najafi, head of the Plan and Budget Organization
(PBO), said in Khorramabad yesterday that 495,000 job opportunities are to be
provided nationwide next year, IRNA reported.

Najafi told the provincial administrative council session that the government
would concentrate its efforts on (materialization of) the objectives of the
Third Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2000-2005).

He said that government would try to create 3,600,000 job opportunities in
the course of the Third Plan.

He predicted that the country would earn six billion dollars from export of
oil in the course of the Third Five-Year Development Plan.

He said that the oil sector is predicted to earn the country $11.2 billion
annually during the Third Plan, adding that the surplus oil revenues would be
directed to investment and employment sectors.

The Iranian official said that if the country manages to raise coefficient of
oil recycling to 20 percent from 19 percent, $67.5 billion would be added to
national capitals in a short period of time.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 12:09:37 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: KHATAMI:Writers' Needs Must Be Met

KHATAMI:Writers' Needs Must Be Met

IRAN NEWS NATIONAL DESK TEHRAN - President Khatami yesterday inaugurated the
17th Book of the Year festival and the 7th World Book Awards ceremony here.

He praised the creators, readers and publishers as the three main pillars in
the field of book publishing.

President Khatami stated that material and intellectual needs of the writers
must be met and a safe and peaceful environment must be created for them to
work in.

The president called book reading an admirable habit, adding that the country
was in need of a revolution in its education system to allow the country to
benefit more from books.

"In industry, service sector and agriculture, technology and basic sciences
must be developed and books must promote interest in them," said the
President, adding that the government must support writers, publishers and
readers in a community whose miracle is the holy Quran.

Focusing on the low income factor as a deterrent to purchasing books, Khatami
said by various methods of support the state must help the publishing
industry to survive and prosper.

"When speech is recorded into a book, it removes date and place and allows
the coming generations to benefit from the work," said the President. He
added that writing reflects the true essence of human dignity, and when
authors and publishers are praised human dignity is elevated.

"In the past, those who were in love with study and turned into eminent
scholars were given important posts," he maintained.

He said book commentary must be strengthened at a time when the huge data on
Internet has puzzled even the outstanding critics in choosing the best

"We are a religious community founded on Islam, and it is necessary to
strengthen religious rationality to prevent the existing chaotic conditions,"
Khatami concluded.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 12:15:53 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran Supplies More Than Half of S. Africa's Oil Demand

Iran Supplies More Than Half of S. Africa's Oil Demand


TEHRAN -- The Islamic Republic of Iran supplies more than half of the crude
oil needs of the South African oil companies. This was revealed during the
launch of the Millennium Report of the South African Petroleum Industry
Association (SAPIA) on Wednesday.

The South African Minister of Minerals and Energy Phumzile Mlambo-Nguca said
in Cape Town that Iran and South Africa have a wonderful relationship, which
should be expanded even further.

The minister expressed her concerns however about the recent volatility in
oil prices and hoped that there would be more stability in the future.

She was also expected to hold talks with the Iranian ambassador to the
country with regard to expanding bilateral ties.

South Africa consumes over 20.8 billion liters of oil products annually.

Meanwhile, the Mexican ambassador to Cape Town also stated that his country
wants to see its trade relations with Iran to grow more rapidly.

He added that the forthcoming visit by the Mexican deputy foreign minister to
Tehran would enable the existing warm relationship between the two sides to
further develop, IRNA reported.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 12:16:28 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Growing Power Demand Requires Investment of $8b

Growing Power Demand Requires Investment of $8b


TEHRAN -- Iran has by far the largest power generating capacity in the Middle
East and North African region, according to figures compiled by The Middle
East Economic Digest (MEED) based in London.

The output capacity of Iran's power plants, ranked first in the survey, is
estimated at about 29,500 megawatts . This is almost 8,000 Mw more than that
of Saudi Arabia (ranked second) and nearly 9,000 Mw more than that of Turkey
(ranked third). Fourth on the list is Egypt with 16,500 Mw followed by the
U.A.E. with 7,600 Mw.

The list further indicates that Iran's power demand is set to grow by an
additional 15,000 Mw over the next six years, which requires investments of
close to $8 billion in local power industry.

Meanwhile, organizers of a conference on "Iranian Power 2000" to be held in
London in April, say that "Iran represents one of the most attractive
investment markets as far as power industry is concerned." The topics to be
discussed at the two-day conference include development projects being
offered, financing, Iran's power distribution sector, economic policies and
the legal environment.

The speakers include adviser to the Iran's deputy energy minister, Shahriar
Hendi, directer of technical services at the Oil Ministry, Abdolreza Amini,
and vice governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Mohammad-Jafar Mojarrad,
according to the organizers, IRNA reported.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 12:17:24 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Successful Debut for Iran's Carpet Exhibition in Athens

Successful Debut for Iran's Carpet Exhibition in Athens


TEHRAN -- The Central Association for Handwoven Carpets of Iran (ETFA) has
organized exhibitions in four Greek cities to promote the export of Persian

The first exhibition was held in the Athens Hilton Hotel on Feb. 1-3.

"It is ETFA's first exhibition in Greece and we are very satisfied with the
results," the association's managing director, Nosratollah Mahmoudzadeh,

He added that the exhibition, which coincides with the ceremonies marking the
21st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, is a good
opportunity to market the Iranian carpets abroad.

Meanwhile, many businesspersons, carpet collectors and diplomats were among
those who visited the three-day exhibition.

Mahmoudzadeh also noted that there was a big carpet market in Greece and in
the neighboring Balkan countries, adding that there were on display carpets
from different cities including Isfahan, Tabriz, Khorassan, Fars and Hamedan.

The prices of the carpets ranged from $100 per sq.m. to as much as $10,000
per sq.m. "We are very satisfied with the sale of our carpets in the
exhibition,'' underlined Mahmoudzadeh.

"This exhibition is a masterpiece of Iranian art portrayed on the carpets,"
one Greek visitor commented.

Organized with the cooperation of local carpet dealers, the exhibition is to
move to three other Greek cities this weekend, IRNA reported.


Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 12:19:04 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: ITALIAN FM: Ties With Tehran Important for Rome

ITALIAN FM: Ties With Tehran Important for Rome


TEHRAN -- Italian minister of foreign affairs, Lamberto Dini, in Rome on
Friday said that his country attaches great importance to ties with Iran.
Making the remark in a meeting with the Iranian minister of mines and metals,
Eshaq Jahangiri, he said that last year's visit to Rome of the Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami was a turning point in the two countries'

He voiced Italy's interest to further promote ties with Iran in all economic,
industrial, trade and technical areas.

Referring to Iran's geopolitical situation in the region, Dini said that
Italy is willing to expand relations with a powerful country such as Iran.

Briefing Dini on his talks with senior Italian officials held during his
two-day visit to the country, Jahangiri hailed as "positive" achievements of
the Fourth Session of Iran-Italy Joint Economic Commission.

Expressing his satisfaction over Tehran-Rome close ties, he said that
bilateral relations have entered a new, serious and practical stage since
President Khatami's visit to Italy last year.

Meanwhile, a letter of understanding and a draft agreement were signed by the
two countries at the end of Jahangiri's visit to Italy on Friday.

Jahangiri, as the Iranian chairman of the joint commission, and the Italian
co-chairman and minister of foreign trade, Piero Fassino, signed the letter
of understanding at the end of the Fourth Session of the two countries' Joint
Economic Commission.

Commenting on Tehran-Rome economic cooperation, the letter of understanding
called for active participation of Italian companies in Iran's development
projects during the country's Third Five-Year Economic Development Plan
(starts March 2000).

Paving the way for closer cooperation between the two countries' industrial,
sectors, providing facilities for insurance cover of Italian exports to Iran
and promotion of cooperation between the two countries' small- and
medium-sized industries were among issues stressed in the letter of

Tehran-Rome cooperation in the area of food industry, providing more
facilities for air and road transportation, and expansion of cooperation
between the two countries' Customs departments were other issues reviewed by
Iranian and Italian officials.

The draft of a financial agreement on extension project of Iran's Mobarakeh
Steel Complex was also approved by the two sides, IRNA reported.

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 13:56:10 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iranian Hard-Liners Fight Cartoons

QOM, Iran (AP) - A political cartoonist who portrayed an Iranian cleric as a
crocodile was arrested Saturday, his colleagues said, and angry clergymen and
theology students demonstrated for a third day against government tolerance of
such comment.

The cartoonist, Neekahang Kowsar, was imprisoned without bail after Iran's
Press Supervisory Board referred the case against Azad - the reformist
newspaper that ran the cartoons - to court, Kowsar's co-workers said.

The press board also issued a warning reminding newspapers and magazines that
it is illegal to publish ``any insults to Islam, officials, organizations,
institutions and those who are religiously respected.''

Azad published a notice Saturday saying it was voluntarily suspending
publication for three days ``to soothe tensions.'' It also has published
apologies, saying cartoons that depicted hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mohammad
Taqi Mesbah Yazdi as a fat thug and a crocodile - a symbol of treachery and
deception - were not intended to be offensive.

Last week's cartoons were the first time a publication had so pointedly
lampooned the clergy since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Newspapers have
been in
the vanguard of Iranian reformists' struggle for greater democracy and fewer
religious constraints.

Outrage against the cartoons continued Saturday. More than 5,000 theology
students and clergymen demonstrated for a third day in the holy city of Qom, a
bastion of conservative clerics 80 miles south of Tehran. Seminaries
Qom were closed to allow students to join the protests at the Azam Mosque.

Protesters condemned Azad and called for the resignation of Culture Minister
Ayatollah Mohajerani, who is responsible for press licensing. A day earlier,
demonstrators had been demanding Mohajerani's execution.

Later in the day, state-run television said the protest had ended on the order
of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

One of Kowsar's cartoons showed a fat thug, with dollars inside his stomach,
ready to club a scrawny journalist and demanding: ``Confess immediately. Where
have you hidden the dollars.'' Yazdi has claimed that a former CIA chief
traveled to Iran with a case full of dollars to finance some newspapers - a
veiled stab at the credibility of reformist journalists. He did not identify
the former CIA chief or the newspapers.

The other cartoon portrayed a crocodile shedding false tears to lament the
``cultural invasion'' by foreigners in Iran. Protesters said it alluded to
Yazdi because the Persian word for crocodile - temsah - sounds similar to

Since the 1997 election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, hard-liners
have closed down several pro-reform newspapers. Last year, they failed in
effort to impeach Mohajerani for allowing reformist papers to flourish.

``The political attack against the culture minister is part of a general plan
against reform just before the elections,'' said the reformist Peyam-e-Azadi
newspaper, referring to Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.


Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 13:55:45 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>

TEHRAN 5TH Feb. (IPS) As demonstrations, petitions, protests and sit in,
organised by the conservatives denouncing the publication of a cartoon showing
a hard line ayatollah as an enormous crocodile continued in Qom, in Tehran and
some other cities continued unabated, what interested analysts was that a very
old religious tradition enshrined in a sacred taboo had been broken.

In fact, it was an unwritten rule for the press to never cartoon the clerics,
junior or senior, under any pretext. Mr. Kiumars Saberi, the Editor of the
satiric weekly "Gol Aqa" known for it's political cartoons admitted that he
would never caricaturise a religious man in cartoon.

But the Islamic revolution of 1979 that brought the Iranian clergy into the
power made it difficult for the cartoonists, mostly foreigners, not to tickle
the ruling ayatollahs: Thus appeared the first cartoons showing the founder of
the Islamic Republic as a man with his beard made of skulls, his hands covered
with blood.

More than ten years ago, A young Iranian cartoonist was sentenced to ten years
of jail just because a footballist of his cartoon missing a shot looked too
much like the grand ayatollah Khomeini.

And now, for the first time, a prominent orthodox ayatollah who, regardless of
his harsh tongue, his divagations, his hard attacks against the reformist
and his calls for civil disobedience, is much respected and supported by the
leader, has been portrayed as a crocodile crushing a journalist under his fat
belly while crying, with the caption reading "crocodile's tears".

The cartoon was that of ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, a close friend
and supporter of the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i who in a recent statement had
"disclosed" that a Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had
come to Tehran disguised as tourist but with a suit case "loaded with
money" he
distributed among the reformist press and publishers.

His astonishing "revelations" created uproar among the moderate, independent
reformist press and publishers.

In letters to both the Intelligence Ministry and the Judiciary, Mr. Ata'ollah
Mohajerani, the Guidance Minister urged them to got Mr. Mesbah-Yazdi to
identify the journalists and the publishers who received money from the CIA.

Hours after the daily "Azad" hit the newspaper stands on Wednesday, with the
cartoon published in it's front page, students of ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi whom
the Iranians have nicknamed as "Temsah-Yazdi', meaning "Crocodile-Yazdi",
walked out from the classroom after the cleric exploded in anger by seeing
himself portrayed as a crocodile.

Demonstrating in this ugly and arid religious city situated 150 kilometres
south of the capital Tehran, the demonstrations were quickly joined by others,
calling for the immediate resignation of the Guidance Minister who is in
of the press.

Mr. Mohajerani is regarded by many conservative and hard line ayatollahs as
"bete noire" to be shot.

The cartoon started off a heated debate opposing the reformist press and
intellectuals to the hard line newspapers and conservative religious circles
that insist the independent press is becoming more and more liberal,
westernised, manipulated by foreigners and insulting against religious

Some papers asked why the conservatives did not express shock and outrage when
the evening daily "Keyhan", the mouthpiece of the Intelligence Ministry,
cartooned hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, the well known publisher of the
reformist newspaper Khordad. "Why is that the seminarists did not came out in
protest into the streets after radical press jolted and insulted a prominent
cleric who not only served at various sensitive government jobs but was also
much trusted by grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini?

Far from backing off, and despite excuses presented by Mr. Mohammad Reza
Yazdanpanah, the publisher of "Azad", Mr. Nikahang Kausar, the cartoonist said
adamantly that he would continue his work regardless of the outcry, hoping
he would not have affairs with those who met (Mohammad Ja'far) Pouyandeh and
(Mohammad) Mokhtari, a reference to the Intelligence Ministry senior agents
officials who in November 1998 assassinated five prominent
intellectuals and politicians.

In a statement released after he was arrested upon his arrival to the Press
Tribunal where he was summoned, Mr. Kausar, 30, accused the religious hard
liner of having deliberately linked his crocodile cartoon to the personage of
ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi in order to justify more pressure on independent press
and the reformist that are supposed to win the coming parliamentary elections.

The cartoon of Mr. Mesbah-Yazdi reminds one of the "Mauj" affair, from a
satirical play printed months ago in a student bulletin in which a young
orthodox student was challenging Mehdi, the 12th imam of the Shi'ite Muslims
who, some 800 years ago, went into hiding at the age of 8 in order to
when the world would be full of sin and injustice.

The play, named "Reappartition at the Time of Examinations", wrote by three
students and published in Mauj, a bulletin with very limited circulation,
nevertheless angered the ayatollahs who saw in it the crumbling of a secret
taboo concerning Mehdi and his myth.

"People do no more accept taboos. They want to discuss everything in order to
better understand them. Why should a corrupt ayatollah be respected, treated
differently? Why should the leader stand above laws? Why should the myth of
Mehdi, or any other of the 12 imams, be a taboo and its credibility not
discussed in public? Why should women have half the rights given by Islam to
men? Why has Islam has ruled that girls of 8 are marriable to men of 80?
Those and everything in Iran has become subject of discussion, debate and
disputes", observed one Iranian sociologist. ENDS TEMSAH-YAZDI 5200

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2000 22:50:51 -0800
From: "M. Parvin" <unplan@USA.NET>
Subject: Appeal for Urgent Steps to Stop Persecution of Iranian Journalists

Dear friends:

Please fax this appeal to the Secretary General of the UN and distribute

it as widely as possible.

Thank you.

M. Parvin
Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR IRAN)
P.O. Box 2037, PVP, CA 90274
Tel: (310) 377-4590
Fax: (310) 377-3103
Web Site:


The Honorable Kofi Annan
Secretary General of the United Nations
Fax # (212) 963-4879

Appeal for Urgent Steps to Stop Persecution of Iranian Journalists

The Honorable Kofi Annan:

A new wave of terror has been unleashed against independent Journalists
by Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). On 2/6/2000, Iranian secret police
arrested cartoonist, Nik-Ahang Kowsar on charges of insulting Islam and
religious officials and institutions with his cartoons. Kowsar, a
cartoonist and director of the Azad newspaper has been imprisoned
without bail and his newspaper is in danger of being shut down.

I believe that your continued public silence on the systematic
violations of human rights in Iran during the past several months will
further encourage the IRI to continue abusing human rights in Iran. We
are witnessing that more Iranian journalists, writers, poets, students,
and dissidents are becoming the victims of the IRI.

Therefore, I urge you and all those promoting human rights, to break the

silence and condemn such acts of tyranny by the regime of the Islamic
Republic. Furthermore, I, as an Iranian in exile, and supporter of the
UN plan for the establishment of an international criminal court, urge
you to seek International pressure on the Iranian government to stop
human rights abuse and release the prisoners of conscious immediately.


Signature Name and Title

Phone No.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 5 Feb 2000 to 6 Feb 2000