Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Feb 2000

There are 6 messages totalling 477 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Polls close in Iran's parliamentary elections
2. Reformists Favored in Iranian Vote
3. Major Political Events in Iran
4. Iran awaits poll results as reformists see victory
5. Iran Voters' Fashion Is Political
6. Late Ayatollahs face has no place in Irans elections

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 19:17:06 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Polls close in Iran's parliamentary elections

Polls close in Iran's parliamentary elections


TEHRAN, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Polls closed in Iran's parliamentary elections on
Friday after a two-hour extension due to a large turnout.

The heavy turnout is expected to favour reformists close to President
Mohammad Khatami against their conservative rivals.

State television quoted election officials as saying polls had closed at 9
p.m. (1730 GMT) but that voters still queuing at polling stations would be
allowed to cast their ballots.

Voting had earlier been extended by two hours from 7 p.m. (1530 GMT), amid
reports of long queues at polling stations.

Some 38.7 million Iranians, aged 16 and over, were eligible to take part in
the elections, widely seen as a referendum on Khatami's liberal reforms.

There are no independent opinion polls in Iran. But reformers close to
Khatami, citing the turnout and their own informal exit polling in Tehran,
said they were headed for victory.

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 19:17:45 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Reformists Favored in Iranian Vote

Reformists Favored in Iranian Vote

By VIJAY JOSHI
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranians' frustration with restrictions on everything
from what they wear to what they can say has been building, and they had a
chance to express it at the ballot box Friday.

Reformists were expected to take the edge away from conservatives in Friday's
parliamentary elections, opening the way for a more liberal society and more
personal freedoms after two decades of hard-line Islamic rule. First results
were expected Sunday.

Iran has little capacity for compiling voter turnout figures. But state-run
Tehran radio said it was high, which analysts had said would favor
reformists. Long lines began forming outside polling booths in mosques and
schools within an hour after polls opened Friday morning, and voting was
extended two extra hours in the evening to deal with the crowds.

As lines of voters snaked down Iran's streets, the deep divisions between the
nation's Islamic traditionalists and pro-Western reformers were evident in
the very clothes the voters wore.

Traditionalists appeared wrapped in turbans or - for women - draped in the
traditional black head-to-toe covering. But neckties were also in evidence,
and more than a few women sported more modern dress and had hair poking out
from under their head scarves.

``Yes, anybody will know who we are voting for. We are of course voting for
candidates who support Khatami,'' said Barbod Babak, 23, one of five friends
who wore neckties to cast their votes in a wealthy Tehran neighborhood.
``These are very important elections for us. We are fighting for our
future.''

Ties and other Western dress were declared un-Islamic after the 1979 Islamic
Revolution, but they started to reappear after Khatami started his campaign
in 1997 to grant social freedoms.

Khatami's landslide presidential victory that year shook the hard-line
clergy. But his reform campaign was blocked by a recalcitrant parliament.

``I hope today's election will be one of the most glorious, historical
moments of our nation,'' Khatami said after casting his ballot.

Even if they win in parliament, though, reformers would face the hard-liners'
domination of many of the most powerful government bodies.

The conservative Guardians Council must approve all legislation passed by
parliament, and Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has final say
in all matters. The hard-liners also control the judiciary and other key
institutions like the radio and television and the armed forces.

About 5,800 candidates, including 424 women, are vying for the 290 seats in
the Majlis, or parliament. About 38.7 million of Iran's 62 million people
were eligible to vote.

The Islamic Republic News Agency said Friday that final results could take up
to three weeks. The vote counting will be done by hand across the country - a
cumbersome process, especially in the capital, where there are 7 million
voters.

Khamenei is the hard-liners' main backer. In a message broadcast over state
radio Friday, he said: ``This is a significant election and I want you to be
careful. Elect those who will be helpful to you and to Islam.''

But to the youth, most of them born after the Islamic revolution, its ideals
are no longer relevant. Even the staunch stance against ties with the United
States has its critics now.

``Revolution? I don't remember it, but I can see the consequences of it,''
said Naveed Saodati, a 23-year-old computer engineering student.

The hard-liners have alienated many Iranians by trying to muzzle the press,
jailing those who criticize the ruling clergy, using the judiciary for
political vendettas and refusing to ease personal laws that dictate nearly
every aspect of life in Iran. Women must not show any part of the body except
the face and hands in public, they cannot sing in public, mixing of the sexes
is illegal and foreign television broadcasts are banned.

Voters are also concerned that jobs are scarce and the cost of living is
mounting.

More than half of Iran's 62 million people are under the age of 25, and they
are the loudest voices for change. After a reformist newspaper was closed by
hard-liners last summer, tens of thousands of Tehran University students
flooded the streets for three days.

Other Iranians have expressed desire for change simply by supporting
reformist newspapers or turning out for peaceful campaign rallies.

AP-NY-02-18-00 1509EST

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 19:18:30 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Major Political Events in Iran

Major Political Events in Iran

.c The Associated Press


Key dates in Iran's history and dealings with the United States.

1921 - Successful coup led by Reza Khan, an Iranian officer of the Persian
Cossack Brigade.

1925 - Reza Khan is crowned shah.

1941 - Britain and the Soviet Union invade to counter expanding German
influence; shah abdicates in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

1951 - British-owned oil industry nationalized. Mohammed Mossadeq becomes
prime minister.

1953 - Mossadeq ousted in a CIA-backed coup to reinstall the shah as a
pro-American bulwark against communist expansion.

1961 - Widespread political, economic and social reforms under the shah's
White Revolution.

1963 - Religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is exiled.

1978 - Rebellion sweeps the country.

1979 - Shah leaves Iran and later dies in Egypt. Khomeini returns. Student
militants seize U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Khomeini backs seizure; 52 Americans
in captivity.

1980 - American attempt to rescue hostages fails. Iraq attacks Iran, starting
eight-year war.

Jan. 20, 1981 - With Algerian mediation, the hostages are released.

1989 - Death of Khomeini. Ali Khamenei is chosen as supreme leader.

1997 - Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric, wins presidential election with a
surprising 70 percent of the vote. President Clinton calls Khatami's election
a ``hopeful sign,'' but says relations cannot be restored until Iran
renounces terrorism, opposition to the Middle East peace process and nuclear
weapons.

1999 - Large protests by pro-reformists, and counter protests by hard-liners.

Feb. 18, 2000 - Iran holds parliamentary elections.

AP-NY-02-18-00 1548EST

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 19:20:00 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran awaits poll results as reformists see victory

Iran awaits poll results as reformists see victory


TEHRAN, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Iranians awaited the results of crucial
parliamentary elections amid claims by reformists close to President Mohammad
Khatami that they were headed for victory over conservative rivals.

Officials of the Islamic Iran Participation Front said their own rough exit
polls in Tehran after Friday's elections had found strong support for
reformers from a big turnout.

They said they had similar reports from the provinces after the close of the
poll, widely seen as a referendum on Khatami's liberal reforms which have
been stymied by entrenched conservatives in the current parliament.

There was no immediate reaction from the main conservative coalition, which
had predicted before the elections that it would retain control of the
250-seat parliament.

Officials, who extended voting by two hours because of the large turnout,
said first results from smaller districts would be announced on Saturday but
the final tally from Tehran, with 3,200 voting stations, could take about 10
days.

Mohammad Reza Abbasifard, a member of the Guardian Council which supervised
the elections, said he estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the 38.7 million
eligible voters had cast ballots, Iran's news agency IRNA reported late on
Friday

A solid parliamentary majority would boost Khatami's efforts to create a
civil society within Iran's Islamic system.

The Participation Front's manifesto promises to expand freedom of the press,
reform the hidebound judiciary and reduce the scope for clerical meddling in
future elections.

It has also pledged greater transparency in government, with outspoken
members suggesting the time was ripe for renewing ties to the United States,
Iran's arch-enemy.

Many of the conservatives support gradual change, fearing that swift reforms
would water down Islamic and revolutionary values. Publicly they oppose
relations with the United States, although in private many are more flexible.

There are no independent polls in Iran, but the size of the turnout and the
mood of the voters around the capital suggested reformers were moving closer
to a repeat of Khatami's stunning landslide victory in the 1997 presidential
poll.

He won then on a platform of social and political reforms with almost 70
percent of the vote against the establishment choice, thanks in large part to
strong support from women and young people. Turnout was 88 percent.

Much of the one-week campaign had focused on the huge youth population, which
can vote at 16 and yearns for an easing of strict social controls. About 60
percent of the population of 63 million are under 25.

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 19:19:26 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran Voters' Fashion Is Political

Iran Voters' Fashion Is Political

By VIJAY JOSHI
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Neckties were out in force and plenty of hair peeked out
from under women's head scarves at polling booths around Tehran Friday, where
many of the fashion statements were political too.

It has been more than 20 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the
clergy came to power here and Western dress was declared un-Islamic. Neckties
were seen as signs of decadence and makeup became taboo.

But since President Mohammad Khatami started his campaign in 1997 to grant
social freedoms, Iranians have become bolder in their fashion choices.
Wearing a necktie has become almost an affirmation of a man's liberal
politics.

Iranians with such sensibilities were out in force Friday, when voters were
expected to give reformists a majority in Iran's parliamentary elections and
strengthen Khatami's chances of pushing through reforms.

In a wealthy Tehran neighborhood, five young friends - all wearing neckties -
came to cast their votes.

``Yes, anybody will know who we are voting for. We are of course voting for
candidates who support Khatami,'' said Barbod Babak, 23.

Although ties were never declared illegal here, people in the 1980s and early
1990s rarely wore them for fear of being branded pro-Western - a sure way to
attract retribution.

Naveed Saodati, 23, said he has a collection of about 20 ties, all bought in
Tehran clandestinely. He said he used to sport ties only at private parties
to avoid confrontation with authorities. Now, he said, ``it is no big deal.''

Until a few years ago, special courts set up by the Islamic clergy imposed
nominal fines on women who wore makeup. Today, smartly attired women with
lipstick and mascara are a common sight on streets in Tehran.

The Islamic veil, or hijab, includes the still-mandatory head covering. But
scarves - sometimes colored and often pushed back over the head by the young
- are deemed sufficient now.

``I don't have a problem with hijab, but I don't understand why we can't have
boyfriends,'' said Bita, a university student who did not want to give her
full name. She admitted to having a secret boyfriend whom she was meeting
after casting her vote for the reformists.

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 20:08:53 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Late Ayatollahs face has no place in Irans elections

A Legacy Out of Favor Late Ayatollah’s face has no place in Iran’s
elections

By Matthew McAllester. MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT

Tehran - Zahra Mostafavi, a short, assertive woman in her 50s, teaches
philosophy and logic at the University of Tehran. She is also the
daughter of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"When people see me in the street they come to me and embrace me just
because I am his daughter," she said Wednesday in a rare interview.

But like many of the Iranians who will vote in parliamentary elections
today, Mostafavi embraces a more moderate version of Islamic government
than has ruled since her father overthrew the Shah in 1979. And she
insists that her father was really a moderate, an image more in keeping
with the more tolerant views expected to prevail in voting today.

When asked what her father would have made of the recent liberalization
of political dialogue in Iran, she said: "His view would have been that
of Islam, that Islam is freedom to express oneself, to say what one
wants to say as long as it doesn't harm anyone else." This year, for the
first time in an Iranian election, Khomeini's face and writings are
conspicuously absent from nearly all political advertising. His own
family, led by his daughter Zahra and his grandson Hassan, are embracing
the new politics of the reformists. Many in Iran still try to live by
his word and love him almost as much as his own children do but perhaps
many more increasingly see him as a spiritual figurehead rather than an
ideological touchstone.

In private conversations, some Iranians, especially the young , are
extremely hostile to Khomeini's image and legacy. Khomeini's legacy in
Iran as the universally beloved visionary whose teachings cannot be
faulted is no longer clear.

Few of the many political groupings contesting the election see
Khomeini, who drew 10 million people to his funeral in 1989, as a
vote-getter.

"References to Imam Khomeini nowadays in one way or another do not
provoke all that much of a reaction," said Farhad Behbahany, a political
analyst in the Iranian press. "The image of the imam is put in some
banners and so on but I don't think this is going to get votes for
people." Glancing at a newspaper in his office, Behbahany pointed to an
ad for one party featuring the portraits of its candidates. In the top
right-hand corner was a photograph of the highly popular reformist
President Mohammad Khatami.

"Normally you would have expected to see Khomeini there," Behbahany
said.

Khomeini's image is on his daughter's party's fliers, but so is
Khatami's. But a quick look at the list of candidates for today's
parliamentary election endorsed by the political party she leads, the
Women's Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, makes it clear that she
does not support some of the excesses associated with her father's
regime. The list is full of moderates, including the younger brother of
President Khatami, Mohammadreza.

At a glance, Khomeini might still seem to be the dominant figure in
Iranians' lives. Besides the millions of portraits that hang in every
shop and on many street corners, a vast mosque is being built in Tehran
in his honor. South of the city the government is constructing an
international airport named after him. The main square in Tehran carries
his name. And on the desert road south to the holy city of Qom, work is
still going on at the gargantuan gold-leafed mosque that houses his
tomb.

But on Wednesday evening, inside the huge sahan, the room that houses
the tomb, no more than two hundred people prayed and kissed the casing
that surrounds Khomeini's coffin. The sahan seemed quiet and empty, even
at prayer time. When asked how business was these days, one souvenir
seller at the tomb said: "It is not wise to answer some questions."
Mostafavi insisted that the Iranian people still hold her father near to
their hearts. What made people love Khomeini, she said, was his humility
and generosity. "He felt himself equal to every individual person in the
family," she said. "Even near his death he would bring tea to us. He was
very loving." She said he always took time out twice a day from running
the country to be with his family. She remembers fondly his fastidious
habits of exercising for twenty minutes exactly, give or take not a
single second. She recalls his devout cleanliness, daubing himself with
cologne seven times a day, always before prayer. She says his legacy
will live on forever in Iran.

But she is also sure that her father, who issued a death sentence on the
British writer Salman Rushdie, would have approved of recent Iranian
government relaxations on the arts, a liberalization that many
conservatives in Iran decry. "Music was a big part of his life," she
said.

What's more, he would have been pleased at the renewal of relations with
Western countries like France and Britain. But "America will always be
the enemy because we are a danger to its interests." On that topic,
Mostafavi, one of Khomeini's three surviving daughters–both of his sons
are dead–does not see eye-to-eye with the more progressive wing of the
reformist movement, which wants immediately to reopen relations with the
United States. Khatami has himself called for "a dialogue among
civilizations," seen by many in and out of Iran as code for a
willingness to forge links with the United States.

Iran's conservatives are unimpressed by the way some reformists are
claiming to follow Khomeini's teachings while advocating increasingly
liberal policies.

Their apparent adherence to Khomeini's rulings is merely political
window-dressing, the conservatives say.

"No one dares to say, 'I am against Imam Khomeini,' not because he would
be killed but because it would be the end of his political life," said
Hassan Ghafoori-Fard, a conservative member of parliament and a leader
of one of the only parties using Khomeini's image in the campaign-the
Coalition of the Followers of the Imam. "It's absolutely impossible to
do something against the teachings of the imam. But [the reformists] do
say we have our own reading or understanding of the teachings of the
imam." For many of Iran's young people, a majority of the population, it
doesn't matter which side claims to be Khomeini's true political
descendents. To them, Khomeini's teachings are now entirely alien;
dictates from another era with no relevance for today.

For them, the imam is a symbol not of emancipation from the shah's rule
but imprisonment within a way of life they didn't help build and have no
empathy for.

"Since the revolution 20 years ago the people of the world have seen us
as uncivilized savages," said Ahmad, 23, who sells spare parts for cars.

"We're not free at all, we can't speak freely. This is why I don't have
a good opinion of Mr. Khomeini. After all, the constitution was set up
under his leadership, the laws written were because of him." Privately,
some young people had even tougher words about Khomeini. Such criticism
of Khomeini is highly illegal in Iran and can be punishable by death.

To some of the young generation, the leader they never knew is still a
figure commanding enormous respect. "We don't believe any young people
don't believe in the imam," said Parisa Ghafari, 16, who was on a school
trip to Khomeini's former house in Tehran. The modest one-bedroom house,
which he rented, is now a museum with a gallery attached. "We wish we
were in his era." Today will be the first time Parisa votes and she
plans to vote for reformist candidates who support Khatami, seeing no
contradiction in her adoration of Khomeini and her enthusiasm for the
reformists.

"I think he'll be in the hearts and minds of people for generations to
come but that doesn't mean they'll want to do it the way he did it,"
said Hadi Semati, a political scientist at Tehran University.
"Ultimately, his legacy is the sense of self-confidence he gave to the
Iranian people."

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Feb 2000