Date: Mar 18, 2000 [ 19: 54: 4]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Mar 2000 to 18 Mar 2000 - Special issue

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There are 18 messages totalling 1390 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Thousands of Iran Prisoners Freed
2. Rights group says Iran deporting Afghan refugees
3. Iran Revolutionary Guards Blast U.S.
4. Italy asks Iran to respond after US sanctions eased
5. Russia welcomes U.S. easing of Iran sanctions
6. Iranian official blasts U.S. sanctions move
7. Former Hostages Divided Over Iran
8. Dates in U.S.-Iran Relations
9. Background on U.S. freeze of Iranian assets
10. Fwd: Help !
11. Iranian intelligence claims it knows who shot pro-reform leader
12. hajjarian-condition
13. Mehdi Norowzian's 'Killing Joe' Nominated for Oscar
14. Exiled Rebels Claim Mortar Attack on Tehran
15. Al Gore and the Iraqi Democracy Question
16. Iran's Dinosaurs at Work
18. Women and the Elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:49:43 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Thousands of Iran Prisoners Freed

Thousands of Iran Prisoners Freed

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Some 25,000 prisoners have been pardoned and the
sentences of 27,000 others commuted in Iran over the past month, the official
Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Morteza Bakhtiari, head of the Prisons Organization, was quoted as saying the
number given amnesty was unprecedented in the last 15 years. He did not say
why the prisoners were pardoned or received shortened sentences.

Bakhtiari said 40 percent of the prisoners have undergone vocational training
to be able to cope with everyday life after freedom, IRNA reported.

The amnesties were granted during various national and religious feasts by
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It was not known what kind of offenses were covered by the amnesty.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:50:34 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Rights group says Iran deporting Afghan refugees

Rights group says Iran deporting Afghan refugees

DUBAI, March 18 (Reuters) - Amnesty International has accused Iran of
forcibly deporting hundreds of Afghan refugees, but Iran on Saturday denied
the report.

``In the past week, Iranian police have carried out mass arrests and forcible
deportations of possibly thousands of Afghan men, women and children, denying
them refugee protection,'' Amnesty International said in a statement sent to
Reuters in Dubai by e-mail.

``The Iranian authorities have a duty to ensure that Afghans are treated with
dignity and respect, not rounded up and herded out of the country to face
possible persecution,'' the group added.

It said that entire families were reported to have been arrested and deported
by Iran's ``Disciplinary Forces'' in southern Tehran and put in camps near
the city before being taken by bus over the border to the Nimruz region of
western Afghanistan.

Amnesty International said the expulsions were being carried out despite an
agreement in February with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) allowing refugees without proper documents six months to come forward
and either apply to return home or make a case for remaining in Iran.

The report followed a similar charge made last week by the UNHCR accusing
Iran of forcibly deporting Afghan refugees.

But Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamidreza Asefi called the reports
``baseless rumours.''

``Despite the lack of cooperation of international agencies, Iran has been
taking the most number of Afghan refugees since the beginning of the crisis
in Afghanistan with open arms. We have accommodated them,'' Iranian
television quoted Asefi as saying.

``It is regrettable to see that some organisations spread such baseless
rumours,'' Asefi added.

The Iranian parliament in November voted to expel hundreds of thousands of
foreign refugees working illegally in the country to ease unemployment in

Around two million refugees, mostly Afghans, live in Iran and many of them
work illegally.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:51:35 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran Revolutionary Guards Blast U.S.

Iran Revolutionary Guards Blast U.S.

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guards on Saturday accused
Washington of meddling in domestic affairs by lifting an import ban on
Iranian luxury goods - a criticism that underscores the divisions in Iran's
ruling hierarchy.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's announcement Friday demonstrate the
``intensified efforts of the White House to create a crisis in Iran,'' said a
statement by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, quoted by Tehran radio.
The statement did not say how the Guards, who have hundreds of thousands of
men in arms and their own air force and weapons industry, intended to

The U.S. announcement has become the latest grounds for division between
anti-American hard-liners and reformers, led by President Mohammad Khatami,
who favor better ties with the United States. In elections last month,
hard-liners lost control of the powerful parliament for the first time since
the 1979 revolution that brought an Islamic government to power.

On Friday, the Clinton administration lifted a ban on U.S. imports of Iranian
carpets, caviar and some other luxury goods and invited Iran to enter a ``new
relationship'' with the United States to stabilize the Gulf region and
reverse more than two decades of icy distance. Iran's first reaction was
positive, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi welcoming the U.S.

But the secretary of Iran's top security body, the Supreme National Security
Council, called it ``new interference in Iran's domestic affairs,'' the radio

Hard-liners control the judiciary, armed forces, broadcast network and the
Intelligence Ministry. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the unelected hard-line
supreme leader, also is the nation's highest authority.

The Guards, in a statement carried by the official Islamic Republic News
Agency, said Iran deserves U.S. compensation for past wrongs. It noted that
Albright acknowledged U.S. involvement in a 1953 coup plot, and said Iranians
have suffered ``enormous financial losses'' stemming from conspiracies
involving the United States.

In her remarks Friday, Albright said the Eisenhower administration believed
its involvement in the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq was
justified for strategic regions. But, she said, ``the coup was clearly a
setback for Iran's political development and it is easy to see now why many
Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal

The coup reinstalled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as a pro-American bulwark
against communist expansion into Middle East. He was overthrown in the 1979
revolution and died in exile the following year.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:52:08 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Italy asks Iran to respond after US sanctions eased

Italy asks Iran to respond after US sanctions eased

VENICE, Italy, March 18 (Reuters) - Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini
urged Iran on Saturday to respond positively to an easing of U.S. sanctions
in a major overture designed to break down distrust between the two nations.

``It's an extremely important opening to Iran. Now it is up to Iran to
respond to the indications coming from the United States with this
initiative,'' Dini told reporters in Venice on the sidelines of a conference.

He did not say what specific response he would like to see.

Washington on Friday offered to let in Iranian carpets and other traditional
exports and work harder to settle financial claims and recognised grievances
against its Iran policy from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in her first speech since reformists
won last month's elections, said she wanted to break down the ``wall of
distrust'' that has divided the two countries since the 1979 Islamic

The centrepiece of the initiative was ending sanctions dating from 1987 on
non-oil exports, such as carpets, caviar and pistachios. Iran has said it
will respond by buying U.S. grain and medicine.

But the secretary of Iran's top security body on Saturday dismissed the
initiative as interference in his country's internal affairs and said it
would have limited benefits.

``From their point of view, they are offering a piece of chocolate to what
they see as developments inside Iran. This is a very ugly and unacceptable
move,'' Hassan Rouhani, a conservative cleric and secretary of the Supreme
National Security Council, told state radio.

He chided Washington for repeating past allegations of wrongdoing by the
Islamic Republic. Earlier the Iranian foreign ministry had welcomed key
elements of the U.S. plan.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:52:34 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Russia welcomes U.S. easing of Iran sanctions

Russia welcomes U.S. easing of Iran sanctions

MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - Moscow on Saturday welcomed a U.S. decision to
lift some non-oil import sanctions against Iran but said Washington should
also rescind threats to punish countries like Russia which cooperate with

On Friday Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, responding to the
reformists' victory in last month's Iranian election, said the United States
would lift sanctions on carpets, caviar and pistachio nuts and encourage
cultural and other exchanges.

``We welcome the statement by the U.S. Secretary of State to ease sanctions
and we affirm our principled and consistent wish for a normalisation of
U.S.-Iranian relations,'' the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

``This would suit the interests of both countries and the stability of the
region as a whole,'' it said.

The statement said the U.S. moves should be just the first step in a process
which should include lifting the threat of sanctions against third countries
believed by Washington to be helping Iran in the area of nuclear technology.

On Friday, Albright repeated U.S. allegations that elements in Iran were
trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Washington has imposed sanctions on several Russian scientific institutes for
allegedly helping Iran to develop nuclear technology. It has also criticised
the construction of a nuclear power plant by Russians in Iran. Tehran and
Moscow insist their nuclear cooperation is confined to civil projects.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:53:16 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian official blasts U.S. sanctions move

Iranian official blasts U.S. sanctions move

TEHRAN, March 18 (Reuters) - The secretary of Iran's top security body on
Saturday dismissed a U.S. diplomatic initiative as interference in the
country's internal affairs and said any positive points in the plan were

State radio quoted Hasan Rouhani as saying the U.S. overture, which includes
lifting of some non-oil import sanctions, was ``another step by the United
States to interfere in Iran's internal affairs.''


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:54:05 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Former Hostages Divided Over Iran

Former Hostages Divided Over Iran

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The highest ranking former American hostage held in Iran
welcomes the olive branch the United States is extending to his former

``It's the right thing to do,'' said Bruce Laingen, chief of mission when the
U.S. Embassy was seized by militants in 1979.

But enthusiasm is by no means unanimous following the announcement Friday
that the United States is seeking what Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
called a ``new relationship'' with Iran.

``I wouldn't have anything to do with them,'' said Malcolm Kalp, the former
embassy commercial officer, who along with Laingen and 50 other hostages was
held in Iran for 444 days.

Albright said the ban will be lifted on U.S. imports of Iranian nuts, caviar
and carpets and invited Iran to work with the United States to stabilize the
Persian Gulf and reverse more than two decades of estrangement.

``Iran lives in a dangerous neighborhood,'' Albright said. ``We welcome
efforts to make it less dangerous.''

Laingen, now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy in Washington,
said he is curious to see how the Iranians will react, ``what signal they

``This has to be a mutual process, and we haven't been getting enough from
them for the past year,'' he said.

Kalp, who remains bitter about the 1983 terrorist bombing fatalities in
Lebanon, said he believes Iran should first demonstrate ``major corrections
in their international behavior,'' including ceasing to send arms ``through
Syria to attack Israel.''

``Let them pay major sums of money to the 241 U.S. servicemen they killed at
the Marine barracks and the embassy people they killed in Beirut - and then
I'd be more than happy to eat their nuts, eat their caviar and lay on their
rugs,'' Kalp said.

Others with long-held grievances against Iran agreed.

Former AP Middle East correspondent Terry Anderson, who holds Iran
accountable for his seven years in captivity, said in a statement that Tehran
should ``take responsibility for its acts and offer compensation to American
victims'' as a prerequisite to improved relations.

Stephen Flatow of New Jersey, who blames Iran for the 1995 bombing in Gaza
that killed his daughter, Alisa, said the Clinton administration is putting
``caviar, carpets and pistachio nuts'' before the fight against terrorism.

Flatow, Anderson and three other hostages held with Anderson in Beirut -
David Jacobsen, Joseph Cicippio and Frank Reed - all sued Iran in American
courts under a 1996 law allowing Americans to seek damages from nations that
sponsor terrorism.

In her announcement, made during a speech to the American-Iranian Council, a
private group, Albright called the seizure of the Tehran embassy disgraceful
and traumatic. She also criticized Iran as a supporter of terrorism, an
opponent of Mideast peacemaking and as bent on acquiring weapons of mass

But conciliatory statements by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and then
the election last month to parliament of candidates considered moderate by
some American analysts apparently set the stage for the administration's

In Tehran, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said: ``Iran thinks it is
positive and welcomes it.'' But there was no indication Iran was taking the
administration up on its proposal for formal talks.

``Dialogue must take place devoid of sanctions,'' said Hadi Nejad Hosseinian,
Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. ``Iran will seriously consider the
steps announced this morning, and is ready to adopt proportional and adequate
steps but is not prepared for drastic change.''

The initiative drew mixed reactions on Capitol Hill.

Albright said the Clinton administration would now look for ways to increase
contacts between American and Iranian scholars, artists, professionals,
athletes and groups.

``We believe this will serve to deepen bonds of mutual understanding and
trust,'' she said.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:55:04 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Dates in U.S.-Iran Relations

Dates in U.S.-Iran Relations

.c The Associated Press

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

1953 - Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq ousted in clandestine CIA-backed coup
to reinstall Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as a pro-American bulwark against
communist expansion into Middle East.

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

1978 - Domestic rebellion sweeps country, sparking Islamic revolution.

1979 - Shah leaves Iran; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, exiled religious
leader, returns. Student militants seize U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Khomeini
backs seizure; 52 Americans held.

April 24, 1980 - American military rescue attempt fails; eight U.S.
servicemen die in helicopter crash.

Jan. 20, 1981 - Hostages released minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated
U.S. president.

Nov. 4, 1986 - U.S. arms-for-hostages deal with Tehran disclosed. Deal
involved U.S. arms shipments for Iran to use in its war against Iraq in
exchange for Iranian assistance in freeing U.S. hostages held by
Iranian-backed guerrillas in Lebanon.

July 3, 1988 - Cruiser USS Vincennes mistakenly shoots down Iranian airliner
over Gulf, killing all 270 aboard.

1989 - Death of Khomeini. Religious leaders choose Ali Khamenei as successor.

April 30, 1995 - United States imposes complete ban on U.S. companies and
their foreign subsidiaries on investment in Iran.

May 1997 - Mohammad Khatami, moderate cleric, wins presidential election - a
``hopeful sign,'' according to President Bill Clinton.

Dec. 14, 1997 - Khatami expresses hope for dialogue with the American people.


Jan. 7 - Khatami expresses regret for hostage-taking, something no other
Iranian leader had done.

Jan. 29 - Clinton endorses Khatami's call for cultural exchanges.

February - A U.S. wrestling team competes in a locally organized competition
in first official visit by Americans to Iran since revolution. Later in year,
Iranian wrestlers participate in tournaments in United States and U.S.
wrestling team competes in World Wrestling Championships in Iran.

June 18 - Clinton convinced Iran is ``changing in a positive way'' that could
lead to a reconciliation. Iran calls gesture ``inadequate,'' demanding end to
U.S. support for Iraq-based Iranian opposition guerrillas, freeing of frozen
assets and apology for past wrongs.

June 19 - Washington suggests renewing diplomatic dialogue.

Sept. 22 - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Iranian Deputy
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend small meeting at United Nations,
short of dialogue but highest-level contact since 1979 hostage crisis.


Oct. 8 - U.S. reclassifies Iraq-based Mujahedeen a foreign terrorist
organization and lists National Council of Resistance, essentially an alias,
for the first time. Gesture to Iran makes contributions to group illegal.

Oct. 14 - Clinton administration offers unconditional talks with Iran. Iran
rejects call two days later.

July 26 - U.S. eases sanctions against Iran, allowing American companies to
sell it food, medicine and medical equipment.


Feb. 18 - Iranian parliamentary elections remove Majlis, or parliament, from
hard-liners' control for the first time since revolution.

March 17 - Albright announces a lifting of ban on U.S. imports of Iranian
luxury goods and invites Iran to enter a ``new relationship'' with the United
States. Iran welcomes move.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:55:41 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Background on U.S. freeze of Iranian assets

Background on U.S. freeze of Iranian assets

WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - The United States says it has returned most
of the $12 billion in Iranian assets blocked in retaliation for the seizure
of the American Embassy in 1979 but some claims still have to be resolved in
a Hague court.

As part of a major speech on U.S.-Iranian relations, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright said on Friday that most of the private claims had been
resolved by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague but that she hoped the few
``substantial'' claims still outstanding could be resolved.

Albright also announced the lifting of sanctions on non-oil products such as
pistachios, caviar and carpets but did not remove a ban on all Iranian oil

Following is a description of some of the assets seized, using information
from the Web site of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets
Control, which administers sanctions programmes against countries such as
Iran, Iraq and Libya.

On Nov. 14 1979, Iranian government assets in the United States were blocked
in response to the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the taking of
U.S. diplomats as hostages.

Under the U.S.-imposed ``Iranian Assets Control Regulations,'' about $12
billion in Iranian government bank deposits, gold and other properties were
frozen, including $5.6 billion in deposits and securities held by overseas
branches of U.S. banks.

The asset freeze was eventually expanded to a full trade embargo that stayed
in place until the so-called Algiers Accord was signed with Iran on Jan. 19,

In accordance with that agreement, most Iranian assets in the United States
were unblocked and the trade embargo was lifted.

The U.S. government also cancelled any attachments that U.S. parties had
secured against Iranian assets in the United States so that those assets
could be returned to Iran or transferred to escrow accounts in third

Although greatly modified in scope, the old Iranian Assets Control
Regulations are still in effect.

Many U.S. nationals still have claims against Iran or Iranian entities for
products shipped or services rendered before the 1979 embargo or for losses
sustained in Iran due to expropriation during that time.

Those claims are being litigated in the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal at
The Hague and include reciprocal claims for diplomatic property and Iranian
claims for weapons paid for and never delivered.

The biggest claim by Iran is for military sales not delivered after the fall
of the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. That was estimated by Iran to have a
value of $12 billion.

Certain assets related to those claims still remain blocked in the United
States. Those are largely diplomatic properties in Washington and other U.S.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 16:58:03 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Fwd: Help !

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Full-name: Sohrab68
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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 20:50:49 EST
Subject: Fwd: Help !
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In a message dated 02/21/2000 12:18:21 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< Subj: Help !
Date: 02/21/2000 12:18:21 PM Central Standard Time
From: (Naser Ghobadzadeh)
To: Sohrab68@AOL.COM (Sohrab Arman)

Dear Mr.Arman .

I am the system administrator of Shahid Beheshti University's Alborz
server .
One of our users whom I am sending this mail from his account now has
subscribed himself to DNI news list and has not logged in since 45 days .
But still getting the mails , and since he doesn't login , his mail box is
getting too large and we are faced with lack of space .

He has deleted his first EMails sent by this news list and I couldn't
find what the unsubscription command is and where to send it .

Please let me know how I can unsubscribe this user from the list .
Send mail the command and address , I'll mail it from his account .

You may write back directly to me :

H.Mobahi >>

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 21:48:04 +0330 (IRT)
From: Naser Ghobadzadeh <>
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Dear Mr.Arman .

I am the system administrator of Shahid Beheshti University's Alborz
server .
One of our users whom I am sending this mail from his account now has
subscribed himself to DNI news list and has not logged in since 45 days .
But still getting the mails , and since he doesn't login , his mail box is
getting too large and we are faced with lack of space .

He has deleted his first EMails sent by this news list and I couldn't
find what the unsubscription command is and where to send it .

Please let me know how I can unsubscribe this user from the list .
Send mail the command and address , I'll mail it from his account .

You may write back directly to me :





Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 19:12:36 EST
Subject: Iranian intelligence claims it knows who shot pro-reform leader

Sunday, March 19 3:06 AM SGT

Iranian intelligence claims it knows who shot pro-reform leader
TEHRAN, March 18 (AFP) -
Iran's intelligence ministry said Saturday it believed it knew who was behind
the assassination attempt on pro-reform leader Said Hajarian, who is still
fighting for his life in a Tehran hospital.

"We think we have identified the authors of this attack," Intelligence
Minister Ali Yunesi said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news

He did not give further details about the supposed identities of the
attackers, who shot Hajarian last Sunday and then sped off on a high-powered
motorbike of a type available here only to government agencies.

But Yunesi said that what information the ministry did have about the case
came "from the people."

He also said Hajarian, a former deputy intelligence minister turned
pro-reform leader and a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami, was on a
hit list of the outlawed opposition People's Mujahedeen.

"Hajarian's name was on a list drawn up by the Mujahadeen at the beginning of
the year but other internal extremist forces had also threatened him," Yunesi
said, adding that the 47-year-old had turned down an offer of bodyguards.

(In a statement sent to AFP in Nicosia, the Iraq-based Mujahedeen denied that
it had put Hajarian's name on a hit list.)

(The Mujahedeen said: "Yunesi tried to dampen the rising tensions today by
making the ridiculous claim that Hajarian 'had been on the Mujahedeen's hit

("Many government officials have said that the intelligence ministry could
arrest the assailants in a matter of hours if it so wished," the group added.)

The intelligence minister said that so far two people had been arrested for
earlier threatening to kill Hajarian, who heads the popular pro-reform
Sobh-e-Emruz newspaper and also sits on the Tehran city council.

During the run-up to last month's parliamentary elections, in which
pro-Khatami reformers routed conservatives, Sobh-e-Emruz published a series
of articles about the murders of leading dissident intellectuals in 1998.

The intelligence ministry later blamed those killings on a group of "rogue"
agents but insisted it had nothing to do with the murders.

(The Mujahedeen statement said that former intelligence minister Dori
Najafabadi, "after some of the serial killings in autumn 1998 ... tried to
implicate the Mujahedeen, before the regime was forced to admit that the
intelligence ministry itself was behind the killings.")

Meanwhile, witnesses in Tehran reported that Khatami paid an impromptu visit
Saturday to Hajarian, who still has a bullet lodged in the back of his neck
and has been in and out of a coma since the assassination attempt outside the
city council offices.

A member of his medical team said that Hajarian was "significantly better"
and that doctors would soon make a decision about whether he was well enough
to undergo surgery.

"The patient has greatly improved since last night," Dr Mohammad Ghodsi said,
one day after Hajarian had been able to breathe for around two hours without
the use of a respirator.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 19:14:23 EST
Subject: hajjarian-condition

thr 011
spokeswoman: hajjarian in 'satisfactory' physical condition
tehran, march 18, irna -- the spokesperson of tehran city council, ms
sediqeh vasmaqi, said friday night that saeed hajjarian, a council
member who was wounded in an assassination attempt last sunday, is
in a "satisfactory physical condition."
quoting the iranian specialist professor samiei who was invited
here by the city council, she said there is a great possibility for
the complete recovery of hajjarian.
professor samiei believes that there is no longer any concern
about hajjarian's mobility and spinal reflexes, she said.
professor samiei said that the lack of oxygen has not seriously
damaged hajjarian's brain as the patient was immediately rushed to the
he said blood is now circulating normally in the vein on the left
side of the brain which was blocked by the shot.
pointing to the problems facing the capital city in rendering
health services in times of emergency, vasmaqi said the friday session
of the city council, which also attended by health minister dr
mohammad farhadi, decided that a comprehensive plan be formulated for
setting up of tehran emergency center.
to this end, she added, tehran's citizens will be provided with
the required services needed at the time of any emergency incident.
also speaking at the session, professor samiei complained about
absence of a comprehensive plan for using the expertise of iranian
specialists residing abroad.
he said a few years ago he put forward a plan to the german
government for the setting up of a brain and neurological center,
adding that the center has already been established in germany and
several other countries have built similar centers.
ms vasmaqi later announced that the tehran city city plans to set
up a similar center with the cooperation of the health ministry.
::irna 18/03/2000 11:01


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 20:04:02 EST
Subject: Mehdi Norowzian's 'Killing Joe' Nominated for Oscar

Mehdi Norowzian's 'Killing Joe'
Nominated for Oscar
By Peyvand Khorsandi

He said he "felt proud" when he was informed that he has joined a clutch of
British talent at this year's ceremony, including American Beauty director
Sam Mendes.

Killing Joe, a 45-minute film set in 1963, tells the story of a 13-year-old
boy in London who shares John F. Kennedy's initials and is fascinated with
the president's life.

The £100,000 movie was not made to "make money as such", according to
40-year-old Norowzian, but it heralds his switch to feature films from
commercials directing, where his works ranks currently ranks with the world's

He speaks fluent Farsi and has lived in Britain since was 14. Norowzian is
the fourth Iranian to be nominated for an Oscar, following Hossein Amini
(Jude 1996), Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry, 1998) and Majid Majidi
(Children of Heaven, 1999).

Iranian cinema, however, is not something he jumps up and down about.
"There's been a few good films but none of them receive wide distribution,
like other foreign films," he said. He has no plans for incorporating his
Persian cultural roots into his work until he is well established as a
feature film director. "First you have to make your name, then you can do the
personal stuff." Norowzian lives in north London with his family.

Furthermore, Mr Norowzian has signed contracts to make two feature films,
both to be funded from the US, which will hopefully go into production this
summer and autumn. In addition, he is devoloping two other personal features
that will be completed by the summer, one of which is based on an Iranian

Having closed a deal for funds from the US, he is now in the position of
optioning books and developing original scripts from different writers,
although the emphasis lies in finding Iranian writers who have feature film
ideas. The difficulty in this, of course, is locating the talent, although he
plans to create a database for Iranian actors, set designers, theatre
directors, costume designers, photographers, and anyone else in the world of


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:21:54 EST
Subject: Exiled Rebels Claim Mortar Attack on Tehran

Exiled Rebels Claim Mortar Attack on Tehran
By Ali Raiss-Tousi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Mortar bombs slammed into a Tehran residential district
Monday near a base of the elite Revolutionary Guards in Iran's second act of
political violence in as many days.

The Iraq-based Mujahideen Khalq, Iran's main armed opposition, claimed
responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses said a row of cars took the brunt of the blasts, with shrapnel
radiating into the nearby Nour housing complex, whose residents include five
members of parliament.

A gardener at the guards' Sarallah base across the road had his legs blown
off, the witnesses said. A young woman was hit in the face by shrapnel, and
two others suffered minor injuries.

``It started about 1:30 (p.m.) and in a span of 10 minutes, five to seven
rounds were fired,'' Mohammad Mojarab, the caretaker at the residential
complex, told Reuters.

Mujahideen spokesman Ali Safavi, speaking to Reuters in Dubai by telephone
from Paris, said the group's forces inside Iran had attacked the guards'

Iran Appeals To Foreign Countries

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman appealed to foreign countries to not allow
the Mujahideen ``to take refuge in their territories to freely propagate
their inhuman ideas and continue their heinous crimes,'' the Iranian news
agency IRNA said.

Iran often blasts neighboring Iraq for hosting Mujahideen and accused Western
countries of harboring the group.

A guards member said parliamentary deputies lived in the targeted building,
one of whom was home at the time. He later emerged unhurt.

The attack follows the attempted assassination in Tehran on Sunday of Saeed
Hajjarian, a leading reformer and close ally of President Mohammad Khatami.

Hajjarian had drawn the wrath of Iran's hard-liners both for his central role
in last month's reformist victory at the polls and for revelations in his
newspaper that linked right-wing extremists to the serial murders of

He remains in a coma at a hospital, fighting for his life.

Friends said Hajjarian had received written threats but the shooting remains
a mystery, although some of Hajjarian's reformist allies pointed the finger
squarely at the conservatives, big losers in last month's parliamentary poll.

``The terrorist attack on Hajjarian is a declaration of war on the nation.
Why don't you try to accommodate the people, why don't you accept their
vote?'' said Ayatollah Yusef Sanei, a theologian close to the reformists.

The Mujahideen, which rejects the possibility of reform under Iran's Islamic
government, carried out a mortar assault on the presidential palace and
nearby state buildings last month. One man was killed and several people were

A guards officer at the scene of Monday's blasts told Reuters the weapon used
in the latest attack was a portable mortar similar to the one used against
the presidential office.

He said the guards' base was too large a target to miss and suggested the
attackers were instead seeking to sow panic among Tehran's civilian

Police and Revolutionary Guards cordoned off the area, backed by fire crews,
with investigators at the scene


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:30:27 EST
Subject: Al Gore and the Iraqi Democracy Question

Al Gore and the Iraqi Democracy Question
by Frank Smyth
Thursday, March 02, 2000

Al Gore's Problem : Ron Elving identifies the voters who stuck with Bill
Clinton in 1996, and are now ready to give Al Gore a pass.
The Gas Libel : Matthew Brooks and Seth Leibsohn condemn Hillary Clinton for
taking her listening tour to the Middle East.

How carefully did Vice President Al Gore choose his words last month when he
became the first Clinton administration official to apply the "d-word" to
Iraq? In a one-page, Feb. 8 letter to Iraqi exiles based in London, Gore
became the first high-level U.S. official ever to publicly promise to promote
"democracy in Iraq." Nothing would be more revolutionary for a place that,
for centuries, has been dominated by a small social minority. Nothing would
be more threatening for Saddam Hussein, who, for decades, has been the same
ruling minority's strongest leader.
Religious identity is what sets Saddam and his regime apart from most of the
people in both Iraq and Iran. Saddam along with most of his military
officers, ruling-party officers and elite combat personnel are ethnic Arabs
who are members of the Sunni Muslim faith -- just like most members of every
Iraqi regime including the monarchy that was deposed in 1958. At the same
time, at least 60% of Iraqis and 89% of Iranians (who are mainly ethnic Arabs
and Persians, respectively) share allegiance to the Shia Muslim faith. Ethnic
Kurds who also practice the Sunni faith comprise a third social group in
Iraq. They comprise less than 20% of the country's population and are as
small as Iraq's ruling Sunni Arab elite that, since 1979, has been led by

The issue of democracy for Iraq is sensitive because any free elections there
would probably lead to greater autonomy for Iraq's long-disenfranchised
Kurdish minority, and also finally bring representative power to the
country's long-disenfranchised Shia majority. To prevent either outcome, the
United States has long maintained a de facto alliance with Iraq's ruling
Sunni minority led by Saddam. Today many U.S. officials still fear that
without Sunni Arabs like Saddam in control, Iraqi Kurds would try and form
their own state which would de-stabilize America's regional NATO ally,
Turkey, while Iraqi Shias would turn what is left of Iraq into another
radical Islamic state allied with Iran.

An uneasy imbalance

The U.S. must back democratic
reforms in the Persian
Gulf selectively
This perception is outdated. The Persian Gulf has changed in recent years.
The winding down of a 15-year Kurdish guerrilla war in Turkey gives U.S.
policymakers more opportunities to deal with Iraqi Kurds, and the unexpected
rise of moderate Shia leaders in Iran through successive elections over the
past three years turns the American notion that equates Shias with
fundamentalists on its turban. To strengthen American interests in both Iraq
and Iran, either President Clinton or his successor should finally state that
the United States supports the eventual goal of democracy for Iraq, whenever
Saddam finally falls -- just as candidate Gore, however unwittingly, recently

Americans have tended to perceive all Persian Gulf Shias in a negative light
since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis that lasted until 1981. The United
States has since sought to contain Shia political forces throughout the
Persian Gulf. The Reagan administration backed Saddam and his Sunni-dominated
regime throughout the Iran-Iraq War that finally ended in 1988.

Many Shias in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon share their own hatred for Saddam. Since
1998, three of Iraq's Supreme Ayatollahs have been killed in the streets by
unidentified gunmen after encouraging Shias to return to their mosques to
receive daily prayers instead of receiving them from state television. A year
ago after the third murder, Shias spontaneously demonstrated against Saddam.
In Tehran, Iran's most hard-line cleric, Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
immediately denounced the latest top-cleric murder.

The last time Shias worshiped freely in Iraq was right after the Gulf War
during the period known as the intifada or "shaking off." It began the
evening after President George Bush urged Iraqis to remove Saddam. First Shia
rebels in the south and then Kurdish guerrillas in the north overtook local
army, air force and ruling-party bases. The Bush administration, however,
never intended to provoke a popular insurrection and instead allied with
Saudi Arabia in trying to provoke a palace coup against Saddam in order to
keeps Iraq's ruling Sunnis in power. As a result of U.S. inaction, Saddam
quickly snuffed out the Shia/Kurdish intifada. President George Bush would
later say that he ordered U.S. forces to stand by because he feared the
intifada's triumph might have destabilized the region.

The failure of current policy

The Persian Gulf remains unstable today because of Saddam and his regime. Few
doubt that Iraq is actively rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction while
its efforts are no longer being monitored. Russia, China and France recently
forced the United Nations to appoint a relatively weak candidate, Hans Blix,
to renew U.N. inspections. The new inspection regime that Blix is forming
will no doubt be the weakest one since the Gulf War, granted Saddam's regime
even allows the inspections to resume at all.

The United States also goes on paying an ever-higher political price over
U.N. sanctions against Iraq. The top two U.N. officials to administer the
oil-for-food program that is designed to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi
people resigned in February in protest of the program's failure to do so. In
January, 68 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Clinton demanding
an end to the sanctions against Iraq -- a program that the administration has
already begun to weaken in the face of mounting international pressure.

Backing the notion of democracy for Iraq would represent nothing less than a
strategic shift for U.S. policy. The change would finally dump the idea of
backing a coup against Saddam that would preserve most of his Sunni
Arab-dominated regime -- an anti-democratic goal that both the Bush and
Clinton administrations have separately pursued at one time or another.

The case for U.S. support of democracy in Iraq

Democracy, of course, is uncommon in the Middle East, and it may only be
promoted in most nations slowly and with caution. Saudi Arabia is a
monarchist dictatorship that is generations away from reform. Self-rule for
Iraq would be even more threatening to another oil-producing giant, Bahrain,
where, like in Iraq, another Sunni minority rules over a Shia majority. The
United States must back democratic reforms in the Persian Gulf selectively in
a way that preserves its economic and strategic interests.

But the presumption that America could never back democracy in Iraq is
inconsistent with both American values and interests.

America's long-held view that only Sunni Arabs can maintain stability in Iraq
is near-sighted. Whether he realizes yet or not, Al Gore has taken a radical
stand in backing the simple goal of democracy for Iraq. Other presidential
candidates should now be asked whether they back it there, too, while Gore
should be asked when exactly he plans to engage in a dialogue with the men
who represent Iraq's Shia majority. Back in 1998, leaders of the Supreme
Assembly of the Islamic Revolution for Iraq based in Tehran said they wanted
to work more closely with the United States. But Gore's allies in the Clinton
administration still keep them at arm’s length.

America must finally begin discussions with truly representative Iraqi groups
about a future form of government that could keep Iraq together in a way that
would protect both its people's majority and minority rights. Of course, that
would be a tall order, and every Iraqi frontline state, among others, would
have legitimate concerns about the process. The effort would no doubt fail
without leadership from the United States. But it could conceivably succeed.
The unexpected continuation of Saddam's regime in power has been a sobering
experience for Iraqis, Iranians and Americans, among others, who share the
burden of living with Saddam.

American backing of democracy for Iraq would involve more than risks. It
would finally cast the United States in a favorable light in Iran. Shias from
the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean are sure to retain anti-American
sentiments if they rightfully perceive that America is still trying to keep
Shias down. But if America were to back democracy for Iraq, there would be no
better way to influence Iran.

The policy change would be the most dangerous one imaginable for Saddam.
Observers who think the United States could remove him if it wanted to
generally are overly impressed with America's technological advantage while
failing to consider that America along with the rest of the West has little
or no effective intelligence base today inside Iraq. Backing democracy for
Iraq is not the same thing as backing Saddam's ouster. Democracy presumes
that not only will Saddam be forced to leave office but that one way or
another Shias will eventually gain the representative power they deserve.


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:32:25 EST
Subject: Iran's Dinosaurs at Work

Tuesday, March 14, 2000 | Print this story

Iran's Dinosaurs at Work

Terrorists in Iran now seek to undo what free choice at the ballot box
aimed to achieve. On Sunday, Saeed Hajjarian, a key organizer of the Feb. 18
parliamentary triumph by reformists and a confidant of moderate President
Mohammad Khatami, was shot and critically wounded. On Monday, mortar fire
fell in a residential area that is home to five members of parliament. The
circumstances of that attack, near a base of the hard-line Revolutionary
Guards, are murky. But there is nothing ambiguous about the effort to
assassinate Hajjarian, a newspaper editor and bold critic of the excesses of
the conservative clerics who hold most of the power. It's highly probable
that extremists within the government, determined to maintain control and
prepared to use ruthless means to intimidate their opponents, were behind it.
Three times in the last three years, in local and parliamentary
elections and in the overwhelming vote given Khatami in 1997, Iranians
expressed their weariness with the stifling repressions they have had to live
under since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Last month's vote on the
290-member legislature was a stunning call for change. Hajjarian had strongly
urged the legislators to move quickly to codify a program of moderate reforms
when they convene in May. His newspaper was also among those that have
connected high-level officials with scores of political assassinations.
Most Iranians are eager for greater freedoms and political pluralism and
wish for an end to their country's international isolation. That's why there
is such strong support for changing policies, including improving relations
with the United States, something Washington should welcome. Terrorism must
not be permitted to negate the elections that have brought Iran to this
crucial post-revolutionary turning point.

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:33:07 EST

Resistance to Iranian reform

ecent acts of political violence in Iran illuminate a fundamental uncertainty
haunting that strategically crucial country. The attempted assassination
Sunday of Saeed Hajjarian, a newspaper editor and adviser to reformist
President Mohammad Khatami, suggests that the struggle for power between
hardline clerics and reformers may not be settled by peaceful, democratic

Hajjarian is one of the best-known figures to abjure the hardline camp and
pass over to the reformist side. In the early days of the Islamic republic,
he served as deputy intelligence minister, instituting a secret service that
has been blamed for conducting assassinations abroad of Iranians defined as
enemies of the regime.

The so-called conservatives are known to despise Hajjarian for being a
turncoat and for using his old intelligence contacts to reveal that ''rogue''
elements in the Information Ministry were behind the murders of five
reformist intellectuals in late 1998. The hardliners also had reason to
resent attacks against them in his newspaper.

Like other prominent reformist figures who changed camps, Hajjarian had
received death threats. The assailants who tried to kill him in broad
daylight escaped on a powerful motorcycle identified as a model used only by
Iranian security forces.

What makes the attempted assassination of Hajjarian troubling is that it
could be a premonition of violent resistance to political change.
Conservative clerics are defending their political power, their patronage,
and, for some, considerable fortunes that were acquired by gaining control of
religious foundations that function as corporate conglomerates.

Hajjarian was regarded by the diehards of the conservative camp as the master
strategist of the reformist movement. His paper constantly attacked the
hardliners and linked some of the most highly placed among them to crimes
such as the killings of intellectuals. The fight for power in Iran may
resemble a gang war, and if so Washington will have to keep its distance for
a while.

This story ran on page A22 of the Boston Globe on 3/15/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company


Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 22:53:27 EST
Subject: Women and the Elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Women and the Elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran

IranMania - 01 February 2000

Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini
Academic, women's activist, and responsible for the documentary on Iranian
divorce courts writes for IranMania:
The challenges facing women politicians and their endeavours in improving
women's rights under the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Comments on this article
Make a posting in the election forum

The struggle for women’s rights in Iran dates back to the 19th century. Women
were prominent in the political events leading to the Constitutional
Revolution of 1906-11, but they were then forgotten as men monopolized power
and power struggles, as so often happens in the aftermath of revolutions.
Although the Pahlavi era (1925-79) saw major advances in women’s rights,
these were largely imposed from above and in the teeth of clerical
opposition. Not surprisingly, then, the clerical victory in the 1979 Islamic
Revolution saw a resumption of various ‘Islamic’ restrictions on women: much
publicized, as marks of women’s renewed ‘oppression’, were the imposition of
hejab (‘Islamic covering’) and the dismantling of the Family Protection Law
that had curbed men’s rights to divorce and polygamy.

But the Revolution led to many positive changes that neither the religious
nor the secular opponents of the Shah had intended or predicted. Not least
was a new critique of the gender biases in Islamic Law and a general raising
of the nation’s ‘gender consciousness’.

Since the revolution, matters concerning women, from their most private to
their most public activities, have been openly debated and disputed by
different factions, often in highly charged and emotional language.
Consciously or not, everyone has been drawn into these debates, and forced to
take a position. A range of positions regarding family law and other facets
of women’s rights were tolerated. Eventually, by the early 1990s, new laws
made it difficult for men to exercise their right to divorce, and the issue
of enforced hejab came increasingly under question. Meanwhile, Iranian
society has been changing radically.

Over 70 % of the population now live in urban areas, 60 % are under 25 years
old, and 33 % are in education. Eighty percent of women are now literate; in
1998 51%, and in 1999 57 % of University entrants were female. The large
majority of the population has no memory of the Revolution.

Elections are occasions when tensions come to the surface, positions are
declared, and debates move on. The February 2000 elections for the Sixth
Majles (Parliament) are taking place in a changed context and have a
different dynamic from earlier ones.

The battle lines are more or less the same, but the rules have been changed
by the unexpected victory of Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 presidential
election, which has brought about a reformist movement and a free press and
paved the way for ‘democracy Iranian style’, but against opposition from
part of the clerical establishment.

The outcome of the February 2000 elections will have a decisive impact on
Iran’s crucial transition from theocracy to democracy, and just as women’s
votes were decisive in electing Khatami in 1997, so women are major players
in this year’s elections.

Politics and women’s place in the Islamic Republic might now be radically
different from what they were before the 1979 Revolution.

But one fundamental fact is unchanged: politics is still the man’s domain,
and the only women who enter the field are related, by blood or by marriage,
to prominent men. As such, most women politicians are hostages, vulnerable to
the political fortunes of these men, and only a few have managed to break

This vulnerability, and the painful challenges and contradictions of this
time of transition, are nowhere more evident than in the cases of Faezeh
Hashemi and Jamileh Kadivar. Both women come from political families, and
entered politics in the Fifth Majles elections (1996). Hashemi, younger
daughter of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the only woman in the
Servants of Construction group, stood in Tehran. Kadivar, wife of Ataollah
Mohajerani, one of the founding members of the same group, ran in Shiraz. The
Servants of Construction broke away from the dominant Conservative faction
and followed Rafsanjani’s lead to run on a platform of ‘Construction’,
hoping to break the Conservatives’ control of the Majles. Both women
advocated greater rights for women and identified themselves squarely as
modernists in the battle with traditionalism.

In one of her pre-election speeches, Kadivar said that Article 1133 of the
Iranian Civil Code, which gives men the absolute right to divorce, ‘should be
changed under the guidance of the ulema and according to the requirements of
the time.’ This remark caused an uproar. She was accused of ‘wanting to take
away men’s right to divorce’ and of ‘insulting the Quran’. She was
denounced by the Shiraz Friday Prayer Leader, and there were rumours she
would be charged with heresy. Kadivar did not get into the Fifth Majles, even
though she won the third highest vote in the first round of elections.

In Tehran, Faezeh Hashemi kept quiet on divorce, but broke other taboos. She
promoted women’s sports, and cycling in public. She was the first woman
politician in the Islamic Republic who dared to wear jeans, clearly visible
under her chador.
Faezeh Hashemi

All these made her a target for those now termed ‘Conservatives’, who
compared her to Ayesha, the Prophet’s wife who led the Battle of the Camel
against Ali, the first Shi‘a Imam; but she became the darling of those who,
after Khatami’s unexpected victory in May 1997, became known as
‘Reformists’. The public welcomed her: in the Majles elections she won the
second highest vote in Tehran. It was rumoured she was top of the poll, but
the Conservative candidate (Nateq-Nuri) was declared the winner. A woman
beating a cleric in the capital would have been a quite intolerable blow for
the Iranian political system and its deeply-rooted patriarchy.

It was within this patriarchal system that women deputies like Hashemi had to
defend women’s rights during the Fifth Majles.

Despite the highest number of women ever (fourteen), this parliament has the
worst record on women’s rights. It has ratified two infamous bills: one
forcing medical services to adapt to religious law, and the other banning the
‘exploitation of women’s images’ and ‘the creation of conflicts between men
and women by propagating women’s rights outside the legal and Islamic

The first means that doctors can only treat patients of the same sex; the
second prevents the press printing features on women, and terminates the
lively debate on women’s rights. Both bills were part of a concerted effort
by the Conservatives to frustrate the reforms promised by Khatami, by using
his own slogan ‘The rule of law’. Ironically, both were drafted by the newly
created Women’s Commission of the Fifth Majles, and were proposed in the name
of the defence of women’s rights. Hashemi - and other Reformists in the
Majles - opposed both bills, but to no avail. The two laws were, however, so
far removed from the reality of Iranian society that it was impossible to
implement them.

Meanwhile, Hashemi’s own newspaper (Zan) was another victim of the struggle
between Reformists and Conservatives. In April 1999 the Revolutionary Court
ordered it to close down; her father would not or could not come to her help.

The different press and public reactions to these two women now, compared
with the run-up to the previous elections, can tell us something about how
different this election is, and how far Iranian society has moved. Hashemi is
no longer the icon of students and the youth. This has less to do with her
actions during her term in parliament, than with her failure to distance
herself from her father’s decision at the end of 1999 to enter the election
race. Hashemi-Rafsanjani was nominated by the Conservatives, after all their
attempts to curb and silence the Reformists and the press had failed.

He is seen as their last chance; despite their differences with him, they
are prepared to stand behind him as a desperate tactic to avoid losing
control of the Sixth Majles. Faezeh Hashemi has stood with her father,
defending his record during the two terms of his Presidency (1989-97), and
thus has lost the support of many Reformists.

Her place has been taken by women such as Jamileh Kadivar, who has
consolidated her links with the Reformists. In February 1999, she nominated
herself for the City Council in Tehran, and was elected. Meanwhile, her
husband Ataollah Mohajerani, Khatami’s Minister of Culture and Islamic
Guidance, has been responsible for nurturing a press that is now freer than
at any time in Iranian history, for which he was unsuccessfully impeached in
the Majles in spring 1999.

Protestor demanding release of Mohsen Kadivar At the same time, Kadivar has
become a household name; her brother Mohsen, a Reformist cleric, was
convicted of ‘insulting the Islamic Republic’ following a much-publicized
trial in the Special Clerical Court.

Another victim of this Special Clerical Court was Khatami’s former Interior
Minister, Abdollah Nuri, one of the boldest Reformers. The Conservatives
successfully impeached him in June 1998, and then had him tried in late 1999
to rule him out of the 2000 elections. This proved an unwise move, as in his
defence Nuri effectively indicted some of the Islamic Republic’s harshly
imposed rules, including compulsory hejab. As a former Minister and a man
with impeccable religious and revolutionary credentials, what he said is
particularly significant. While defending hejab as a religious rule, he
advocated tolerance and recognition of reality.

‘Hejab is among our religious obligations’, he said, ‘but the fact is that
this religious rule is not followed by some in society (including some
Muslims), and government’s effort to force these people to observe the rule
of hejab has not been successful.’

What to do with this reality, this fact?

The Islamic Republic’s official answer so far has been to deny reality, or to
force it into a straightjacket of legal rules, and to punish those who do not
conform. But Nuri, reflecting the Reformist agenda, had a different proposal:
to distinguish social reality from religious ideals and rules, to give people
the choice whether or not to follow the mandates of their faith, which can
never be enforced successfully, as the failure of the Islamic Republic’s
hejab policy has shown.

The solution is to accept reality and respect the social rights of those who
do not conform to religious rules, however much we disapprove. In his words,
‘an examination of the situation of contemporary society, and a glance at the
past situation of Islamic societies, shows that these lifestyles (which in
some respects are not compatible with religious rules) have been accepted as

Such a radical departure from the old slogans led to a predictable reaction
from the Special Clerical Court. Nuri is in jail, absent from the elections,
but he has raised the stakes by making explicit what the Reformists have not
dared to say during their campaign.

How will the voters react? They will, in effect, be voting for or against
what Nuri said during his trial. His defence, published immediately after his
conviction, is a best-selling book which has become the unofficial manifesto
of the Reformists. Both Faezeh Hashemi and Jamileh Kadivar are now running in
Tehran, but have taken different positions as regards Nuri. How will the
voters receive them this time?


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Mar 2000 to 18 Mar 2000 - Special issue