Topics in this special issue:
SportsLine WorldWide wire reports June 26, 1998
MONTPELLIER, France -- Iran is going home from its first World Cup in 20 years earlier than hoped, yet hailed as a team of heroes.
The last team to qualify for the 32-nation finals, Iran showed it could take the field against soccer powers without embarrassment.
And it won the game that mattered most back home, a 2-1 victory over the United States that set off wild celebrations in Tehran, where America has been reviled since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
A 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia in the opener was seen as a moral victory in a match where Iran had been expected to crumble. Same for Thursday night's 2-0 defeat by three-time champion Germany, a game that was scoreless at halftime.
"This World Cup was a great experience for us and I hope it did a lot for the future of soccer in our country," coach Jalal Talebi said. "I am pleased with the players and I congratulate them and the Iranian nation."
Players will receive government-paid bonuses of at least $8,500 apiece, and reports said they could expect other gifts, including expense-paid pilgrimages to Mecca.
When Iran clinched its World Cup berth with a playoff win over Australia last year, millions in Tehran poured into the streets in celebration.
That joy soon turned to fear. Iran was drawn in a tough group with two superior teams and the country's arch political and cultural foe. Many in the soccer-mad nation feared their team could end up being humiliated before billions of fans around the world.
Not even close. After the victory over the United States, Talebi talked realistically about reaching the second round.
"We are going home happy," midfielder Ali Reza Mansourian said. ``We did our best, and we know that our people also are happy with us. These games showed us that the difference between Asian soccer and the best teams in the world is not that great. It is a difference we can make up."
Iran, three-time Asian champions, was the only Asian team to win a first-round game. Talebi said that win, big as it was, took something out of the team.
"After our victory against the United States, players felt that their work was finished, and they didn't have the same motivation (against Germany) as they had against the United States," the coach said.
German coach Berti Vogts said beating Iran was not easy.
"I had said before that we have to be careful with Iran, and I was proven right," he said. Oliver Bierhoff and Juergen Klinsmann scored on a pair of headers early in the second half to put Germany into Round 2 against Mexico.
Iranian soccer reached its previous height with its only other World Cup appearance in Argentina in 1978. The Islamic revolution a year later and the 1980-88 war with Iraq virtually killed the sport.
Some of the country's best soccer talent left, or abandoned sports altogether in an effort to make a living.
In recent years, however, several Iranian players have made a name on some of the world's best clubs.
Strikers Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi all play in Germany's Bundesliga, and a fourth player, Alireza Mansourian, says he also has an offer from a German club. Mehdi Mahdavikia, Iran's rising star who got the game-winner against the United States, has an offer from Inter Milan.
More Iranian players are expected to be in demand with European clubs after showing off their talent at the World Cup.
"We did the best with the minimum facilities available to us back home," Talebi said.
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Germany-Iran - K. Bagheri: "The German players' experience overwhelmed us in this match"
Karim BAGHERI (6):
"We had two great chances in the first-half, but unfortunately we weren't able to make anything of them. The German players' experience overwhelmed us in this match. They didn't have a lot of chances, but they made the most of them. We're leaving this World Cup very pleased with our performance. It was a good experience for all of us. GERMANY is by far the strongest team we've played against. I congratulate them on their victory and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the competition.
I'm leaving Bielefeld (German second division) next season for a more upmarket club in the Bundesliga."
Mehdi MAHDAVIKIA (2):
"I had the best chance of the match, at the end of the first fifteen minutes. I was alone in front of the goalkeeper, but unfortunately couldn't get past the last hurdle. The goal I scored against the UNITED STATES was very important. That goal liberated us, but above all, it means that several European clubs are now interested in us, which is our greatest victory. The most important lesson of this World Cup is that we have shown that the Middle Eastern game has now almost caught up with the European one. We will be stronger in four years."
Ali DAEI (10):
"I'm very satisfied with our excellent run in the World Cup. Our target has been reached: we played well and we had some really good matches. We've made a lot of progress, but it still takes a lot of hard work to get past the first round."
Mohammad KHAKPOUR (4):
"The fact that we held the former World Champions at bay for the first half will remain one of the great moments in our football history. BIERHOFF's (20) impressive headers gave me a lot of trouble."
Iran vows to come back stronger By Alastair Macdonald Reuters
MONTPELLIER, France -- Iran goes home from its second World Cup with a sense of mission accomplished after a politically charged victory over the United States, and a sense of determination to come back stronger next time.
Thursday's 2-0 defeat by Germany was not without its moments for the lively Iranian attack spearheaded by Bayern Munich-bound Ali Daei and coach Jalal Talebi pronounced himself fully satisfied.
"I'm very happy with the Iranian team's performance. This is good for the future of football in Iran," he said after a game that saw the powerful Germans take control only after a halftime dressing-down from coach Berti Vogts.
"We'll gain a lot of experience from this," said Talebi, who took over just before the finals began when Croatian Tomislav Ivic was fired during a miserable warmup campaign.
"We've learned a lot," said attacking midfielder Karim Bagheri, who plays in Germany for Arminia Bielefeld.
"I'm sure we'll come back with a stronger team that will compete on a world level. We have to profit from this experience and keep on working. Believe me, we will put this to good use."
The Iranians, long a leading force in Asian soccer, first reached the World Cup finals in Argentina in 1978. They earned just a point but impressed many with their skills. A year later the Islamic revolution and subsequent long war with neighboring Iraq were to stunt the growth of Iranian football.
Iran only qualified for France '98 on the away goals rule after an extraordinary two-goal comeback in a playoff in Australia. It goes out in the first round after beating the Americans but losing to Germany and also 1-0 to group F runners-up Yugoslavia.
The cautious opening up of the Islamic republic, notably with the number of players being hired by European clubs, may continue to bring dividends.
"Playing in Europe has been very good for our players in making progress and if more come here then I think it will help Iranian football," Daei said.
The wild rejoicing that greeted last Sunday's 2-1 win over Tehran's arch political foe the United States leaves little doubt what will be the abiding memory of France '98 for the Iranian public.
The players, who presented their German opponents, like the Americans, with flowers before kickoff, played down the soccer significance of that propaganda victory.
They know that soccer is one area in which the United States is no superpower.
"It was a game like any other," said defender Mohammad Khakpour. "We always go for three points in every game. But what was important for us is that we were here. The main goal was to play well and I think we've played very well."
Coach Talebi, who has spent much of the last few years in the United States, did take care to voice his gratitude that politics had not got in the way of his side returning to international competition in the West.
"I want to thank FIFA for giving this wonderful opportunity for countries to play together," he said.
Saturday, June 27, 1998; Page A13
Was Tony Kornheiser's June 23 column ["Satan Has a Devil of a Time," Sports] supposed to be funny or satirical? What was the point? What is "they've only got two kinds of soccer fields in Iran, natural sand and artificial sand" supposed to mean?
He admits that he doesn't "want to sound like a card-carrying jingoist moron, but it's humiliating to be beaten by Iran." He may not be a "moron," but before venting his derogatory ideas, he should remembered that it is better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubts.
Does the agony of defeat, in a simple, friendly soccer match justify insulting an ethnic minority in a national newspaper? As an Iranian American, I found this article insulting and derogatory.
-- Najmedin Meshkati
Writing that U.S. soccer coach Steve Sampson, "in some countries, could have lost his hands," may garner a few cheap laughs, but it also indicates Tony Kornheiser's ignorance of other cultures and religions -- not to mention soccer.
What a pity this poor baseball fan was "forced to watch one hour and 56 minutes of soccer," a sport the rest of the world considers, in the words of soccer great Pele, "the beautiful game."
I am not an Iranian -- I am an American of South Asian descent and a die-hard fan of the U.S. National Soccer Team as it was in 1994: Tab Ramos, John Harkes, Cobi Jones, et al.
Kornheiser should stick to basketball and baseball and whatever other
purely American sports he knows. Soccer is a world sport.
-- Amer Ziauddin
I read with amusement Anne Swardson's description of the World Cup's
popularity ["Defeating U.S. Is Only Part of the Challenge," news story,
June 21]. As "37 billion television viewers" is roughly six times the
current population of the entire planet, it must also be every
-- Paul Coelus
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
Please read the following petition and, if you agree, sign it and re-email it to us (at firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can reinforce our campaign against these discriminatory regulations. Please forward this message to any Iranians you know and to all interested people around the world. Please forward this petition to all Iranian Societies and Iranian Student and University associations in the US. We have to show the US authorities that all Iranians together are against this and any discriminatory regulations of Iranians.
Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, MD
The Honorable Madeleine Albright
Department of State
2201 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Albright:
We, American Iranians, people of Iranian heritage, non-Iranians, concerned global citizens, and memmbers of Iranians for International Cooperation (IIC, http://www.iic.org), applaud your invitation to a dialogue between the US and Iran. Your olive branch to Iran and the decision to liberalize visa regulations were timely, well balanced and just. We believe, and sincerely hope, that this strategy has a fair chance of succeeding. By recognizing President Khatami's popular support and his genuine willingness to reform the Iranian socio-political atmosphere, and achieving much more favorable relationships with the West as well as with its neighbors, Iran's cooperative position with regards to the Middle East Peace Process; Iran's denunciation of terrorism and that she herself has been a victim of terrorism (seen just last month when to bombs were detonated in Tehran-- claimed by the MKO-- killing three innocent people, including two children, and wounding many others); Iran's positive contributions to the peace and stability in the entire region, you have indeed marked the beginning of a new era of American understanding of Iran. However, in reviewing the visa regulations, we would like to point out some evident injustices facing Iranians and Iranian-Americans. In stark contradiction to the newly created atmosphere of hope and reconciliation between the US and Iran, manifested in increased cultural, educational and sport exchanges, unmotivated interpretation of US law puts Iranian students planning to pursue graduate degrees in the US at a disadvantage since no form of financial aid can be offered to these students whilst students from all other countries continue to be eligible for such assistantships.
According to your direct orders to the US Embassies around the world, no student visa may be given to any Iranian students who lives in Iran and has succeeded to obtain a research grant or scholarship from a US college or university (see enclosed your orders to US Embassies). This has recently caused a major disaster for Iranian applicants for student visa (F category) on the basis of their I-20 and research grant or scholarship. Besides, your strict orders to US Embassies has excluded Iranians from obtaining labor visas (H category) to enter the United States as well. Additionally, with their Iranian addresses, prospective students can not even register to take the GRE or TOEFL exams-- effectively eliminating their chances to participate in the new cultural and educational exchanges which both the US and Iran claim to favor. Honorable Secretary Albright, we urge you to put a swift end to this illegal discrimination. The interpretation of the US laws are not consistent with their substance. Indeed, since we all are awaiting deeds, and not just words, an end to this illegal practice would enhance the credibility in the US's offer to Iran, and, of course, move America one step closer to our common vision of justice and equality for all human beings.
The joys of reconciling the Iranian and American people sees no boundaries. To see Iranian and American soccer fans cheering their teams in an atmosphere of friendship and respect, and to see the soccer players delighted by each other's presence, give us a hint of the bright future that lies ahead of us. Honorable Secretary Albright, lets do everything we can to make this dream come true.
PLEASE E-MAIL TO:
In regard to the issue of whether Iranian students and scholars would be eligible for a visa to come to the U.S. for employment, DOS officials confirmed that Iranians resident in Iran are not eligible for any type of employment based visa. This would include F-1 students offered assistantships on campus. State Department officials then told the NAFSA group that individual consular posts would have the discretion to determine if Iranians living in a third country could be considered residents of that country and thereby eligible for a visa to come to the U.S. for employment. Finally, NAFSA was told that consular posts are being advised to defer to the opinion of the Office of Financial Assets Controls (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury when determining if anI-20 or IAP-66 is valid for Iranian students living in the United States who travel to a third country to obtain a visa. NAFSA members areadvised that Iranian students and scholars living in the U.S. and traveling to third countries for such purposes face a substantial risk in having their visa requests denied. This policy stems from both 1996legislation and President Clinton's Executive Order12959 that prohibits trade between the United States and Iran.
State Department Issues Cable on Iranians In a January 9 cable to American embassies and consulates, the State Department reminded posts about visa issuance restrictions that affect Iranian nationals. The cable notes that "a U.S. employer is not violating sanctions by hiring or offering employment to Iranian nationals already in the United States as permanent residents. However, it would be a violation for a U.S. employer to offer employment to an Iranian national in valid nonimmigrant status in the U.S. who, by definition of his or her immigration status, must have an un-abandoned residence abroad (B, I, H, M)." Since this cable is somewhat contradictory (for example, one might argue that dual intent does not require an H nonimmigrant to have an un abandoned residence abroad), NAFSA's Council on Public Affairs FSA-related working group leaders are currently seeking further clarification from the State Department. Look for the results of those discussions in a future issue of NAFSA. news. The January 9 cable can be retrieved by replying to email@example.com and typing 302.5 in the subject line.http://www.nafsa.org/retrieve/3.02/302.5.txt
R 090145Z JAN 98 FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS SPECIAL EMBASSY PROGRAM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO UNCLAS STATE 003774 VISAS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: CVIS
Subject: Iran Sanctions: Iran Residency Ref: (A) 97 State 17598 (B) 97 Vienna 8886 (Notal) (C) Newcomb (OFAC) - Hamilton Letter of 7/29/97 (D) Executive Order 12959 of May 6, 1995 (E) Executive Order 12613 of October 29, 1987
1. Reftel A informed posts that the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, had determined it is unlawful under Iran sanctions for a U.S. employer to issue an offer of employment to an Iranian national resident in Iran. Posts were requested to refuse employment based visas for Iranian nationals resident in Iran under INA 221(g), until INS makes a judgment on whether OFAC's determination formed a basis to deny/revoke employment based petitions for Iranian nationals living in Iran. INS has not yet informed the Department of a decision on this issue. 2. Reftel B was one of several inquiries asking what constitutes residence in Iran. OFAC's letter to the Department touched on this issue only as it relates to an exception to the sanctions: that it is not unlawful to offer employment to Iranian nationals "resident in the United States." In that context, OFAC has determined that "resident" includes "any Iranian national living in the U.S., irrespective of whether the Iranian national is a U.S. permanent resident alien or a temporary resident." 3. VO has interpreted this statement to mean that a U.S. employer is not violating sanctions by hiring or offering employment to Iranian nationals already in the United States as permanent residents. However, it would be a violation for a U.S. employer to offer employment to an Iranian national in valid nonimmigrant status in the U.S. who, by definition of his or her immigration status, must have an unabandoned residence abroad (B, F, I, H, M). Hence, Iranians who were recently in the U.S. in one of these valid nonimmigrant categories cannot be considered resident in the U.S. This does not include those Iranians already in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant category that does not require an unabandoned residence abroad by definition (H-1, L-1, C, D, E, G, R, S NIV Immigration status or parole). 4. OFAC has not defined residence or Iranian nationals living outside the United States, therefore, VO is of the opinion that conoffs should use the INA definition of residence, found in INA 101(a)(33), to determine whether an applicant is an Iranian national "resident in Iran." INA 101(a)(33) defines "residence" to mean: "place of general abode; the place of general abode of a person means his principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent." 5. VO notes that this is an issue of fact, and determinations in this regard should be based on a consideration of the totality of the circumstances in each individual case, rather than on mechanical consideration of whether an applicant was granted a legal right of residence in a third country, or whether the alien remained out of Iran for some fixed period. For example, the fact that an alien was granted legal residence in a third country is not in itself determinative of "residence" as defined above, although it is a legitimate factor to consider in this regard. An alien granted legal resident status in a third country who has never in fact resided there would normally not be considered to have "resided" in that country, while an alien in temporary legal status in a third country who lived and worked there for several years would normally meet the INA definition of "residence." 6. The amount of time spent out of Iran also needs to be evaluated in the light of all other circumstances. For example, an alien who spent several years in a third country as an undergraduate student while maintaining ties to Iran through holiday visits, etc. could reasonably be considered to be a resident of Iran, while a graduate student who purchased a residence in a third country, established a family there, and enrolled children in school there might reasonably be considered to have a residence outside of Iran even after only six months out of that country. Non-student Iranians who also established permanent businesses in third countries, raise families there and have other permanent ties to a third country, even over a short amount of time, could also reasonably be considered to have a residence outside Iran, while an Iranian who only has trade links or very tenuous/fluid ties to a local third country business community could reasonably be considered not resident in that third country. 7. Department requests posts use this definition in assessing whether applicants are resident in Iran, and are thus prohibited from obtaining employment based visas to the U.S. VO is ready as always to assist post and encourages conoffs to submit advisory opinion requests when dealing with complicated cases. 8. Minimized considered.
USIA 26 June 1998
TEXT: UNITED NATIONS DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE
(June 26 was first observance) (970)
Geneva -- For the first time the international community will observe United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26.
The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed this day in an attempt to eliminate torture and ensure the application of the Convention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on June 26, 1987.
"This is a day in which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable," stated Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a June 24 UN press release.
The commemoration coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims that, "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Following is the UN Press Release:
UN Information Service 24 June 1998
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO MARK FIRST UNITED NATIONS DAY IN SUPPORT OF TORTURE VICTIMS ON 26 JUNE
GENEVA, 24 June (UN Information Service) -- The international community will mark for the first time on 26 June United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a commemoration Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls "an occasion for the world to speak up against the unspeakable".
"Today the United Nations appeals to all governments and members of civil society to take action to defeat torture and torturers everywhere", says the Secretary-General. "This is a day in which we pay our respects to those who have endured the unimaginable", he adds.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Day last December with the aim of totally eliminating torture and ensuring the application of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.
Underlining United Nations efforts to combat torture, the four main bodies of the Organization working on this issue last month adopted a joint declaration urging all States to ratify the Convention against Torture without reservation, if they had not yet done so. In the declaration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee against Torture, the Special Rapporteur on torture, and the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture also urged all States parties to the Convention which had not yet accepted the treaty's optional provisions to do so as soon as possible, and they called on all States to ensure that torture was a crime in their domestic law and to rigorously pursue perpetrators.
In addition, all States were urged to provide for compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture in their domestic law and to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture as fully and as often as they could. The declaration added that all States should cooperate with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture on fulfilling his mandate when requested to do so.
The commemoration this year coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in its article 5 proclaims that, "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." In addition, delegates now meeting in Rome to establish the first permanent international criminal court are studying proposals concerning a mandate to cover torture.
Since its creation, the United Nations has worked to eradicate torture. In 1984, the General Assembly adopted the Convention against Torture, which obliges States parties to make torture a crime and to prosecute and punish those guilty of it. It notes explicitly that neither higher orders nor exceptional circumstances can justify torture.
As of June 1998, the Convention has been ratified by 105 States. These States parties are required to report to the Committee against Torture, a human rights treaty body set up in 1987 to monitor compliance with the Convention and to assist States parties in implementing its provisions. The Committee is composed of 10 independent experts who serve in their personal capacity and are elected by States parties.
The Special Rapporteur on torture also plays a key role in the international fight against torture by responding to complaints from individuals and groups and reporting to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In 1997, Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom) transmitted 119 urgent appeals to 45 countries on behalf of torture victims and those fearing torture.
Treatment of Torture Survivors
Torture is one of the most profound human rights abuses, taking a terrible toll on millions of individuals and their families. Rape, blows to the soles of the feet, suffocation in water, burns, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, shaking and beating are commonly used by torturers to break down an individual's personality. As terrible as the physical wounds are, the psychological and emotional scars are usually the most devastating and the most difficult to repair. Many torture survivors suffer recurring nightmares and flashbacks. They withdraw from family, school and work and feel a loss of trust.
Thirty years ago, there were no treatment centers or services to treat torture survivors. Today, there are some 200 centers or programs all over the world. There is now profound knowledge of torture methods, the effects of torture, and how to diagnose and rehabilitate torture victims.
Over 100 programs treating torture victims in more than 50 countries -- from the United States to Nepal -- receive funding from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which was established in 1981. From 1983 to July 1998, the Fund financed 300 projects, giving priority to those providing direct medical or psychological assistance to torture victims. In 1988, the Fund received applications for financial support totaling $6.8 million, but only $4 million was granted due to insufficient donations.
TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) - An Iranian man suffered a fatal heart attack as his death sentence for adultery and rape was being read out in court, the newspaper Ressalat reported Sunday. Eskandar Nazi, 38, was being sentenced to hang on Saturday by a court in Behbahan, in the southern province of Fars, when he had a heart attack, the daily said. He was immediately taken to hospital where he died several hours later.
TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) - A convicted thief has had the fingers of one hand cut off in public in the town of Najafabad in central Iran, Kayhan newspaper reported Sunday. Mohammad-Reza Ghahremani, originally from Abadan in the southwest of the country, was convicted of 13 counts of theft, the newspaper said. He had the fingers cut off on one hand, in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law, in Iran, in a public punishment which followed Friday prayers, Kayhan said.
TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) - Iran called on the European Union Sunday to stop raising issues such as human rights and terrorism which it said did not help to improve relations between Tehran and Brussels. "Bringing up issues such as international terrorism, capitulation in the Middle East (the Islamic republic's term for the peace process with Israel) or human rights does nothing to help improve ties between Iran and the EU," said a commentary carried by state radio. "The European side must refrain from raising preposterous allegations," the radio said of the three issues which normally top Western government lists of concerns about Tehran. "Several countries, such as Greece, Italy and Spain, have understood this, for they have moderated or modified their approach to Tehran as a result of direct contacts with senior Iranian diplomats," the radio said. The broadcast came just two days before the arrival of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on the first official visit here by a Western head of government since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The radio stressed that Iran and the European Union should "raise their relations to a new and open level" by increasing "high-level direct contacts." A planned visit to Tehran by a delegation of EU officials a week ago was indefinitely postponed because of Iranian "difficulties with the level of representation," EU officials said in Brussels. Tehran wanted the delegation from Luxembourg, Britain and Austria -- the past, present and future EU presidents -- to be composed of "political leaders" rather than "bureaucrats," they said. EU foreign ministers decided to send the delegation at a June 8 meeting at which they agreed to open a "substantive dialogue" with Tehran. The topics to have been raised with Iranian officials included human rights, terrorism and the situations in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan as well as economic, technological, environmental and energy cooperation, and cooperation in fighting drugs. A "critical dialogue" between the European Union and the Islamic republic was broken off in April 1997 after a German court implicated the Tehran regime in the 1992 murder of Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. The EU agreed to reopen links with Iran in March as part of a thawing in relations following the election of moderate President Mohammad Khatami in May 1997.
TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) - A woman has been named for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution as alternate prosecutor at the Iranian supreme court, the country's highest judicial authority, the official news agency IRNA said Sunday. Meymanat Shubak, previously advisor to the justice administration, was named by chief justice Mohammad Yazdi, a conservative ayatollah. Senior legal positions have long been reserved for men under the influence of the powerful conservative clergy, but have recently opened up, with the appointment in December of several women as judges in family courts.
TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) - Iran accused the United States Sunday of not practising the desire for closer ties which it preached after the "insulting behaviour" of US immigration officials towards a group of visiting Iranian academics. Iran said the officials had fingerprinted every one of the scholars who had been invited to New York to take part in a conference on the "Book of Kings" of 10th Century Persian poet Ferdowsi at Columbia University. "Such behaviour is regrettable and increases the mistrust of the Iranian people towards American leaders, particularly after they had said they would give greater access to visiting Iranian cultural figures," foreign ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi said. "The behaviour of the US immigration officials ... is a good token of the difference between what the US preaches and what it practises," he said. Earlier this month US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced "a road map for normalization" of ties with Iran after 20 years of enmity. Mohammadi noted that the fingerprinting of the visiting Iranian academics followed similar treatment of an Iranian wrestling team in April which had prompted an "expression of apology by the Americans." Albright promised to alter the entry procedures for Iranians arriving in the United States after the wrestlers were held at Chicago's O'Hare airport for two hours while they were photographed and fingerprinted. She said she wanted to encourage more visits from Iranian nationals to the United States. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric who came to power last August, has promoted increased sporting, cultural and touristic links with the United States to "crack the wall of mistrust" between the two countries.
By Josef Federman Associated Press Writer Sunday, June 28, 1998; 2:27 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- For the umpteenth time, Iran was under fire in Congress.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was leading the calls on this occasion, urging tighter background checks for students entering the United States from Iran and other hostile countries. Her concern: American universities could potentially help terrorist-supporting countries.
Feinstein's criticism of Iran was nothing new in Washington, but the response she received was. Soon after her February testimony, she was contacted by a group of Iranian-Americans objecting to her comments.
Led by a savvy new generation and encouraged by the election of a moderate president in Iran, Iranian-Americans increasingly are urging the United States to make peace with their former homeland.
``We were severely insulted,'' said Dr. Kamyar Kalantar, a San Francisco physician who says there has never been a terrorism case in the United States involving an Iranian student or immigrant.
Large numbers of Iranians began coming to the United States during the 1979 Islamic Revolution that drove the shah from power.
But with U.S.-Iranian animosities boiling -- Iranians held Americans hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Washington accused Iran of supporting terrorists, and Iranian leaders tarred the United States as the decadent ``great Satan'' -- few Iranians got involved in politics here. Until now.
``To take political action is kind of a new frontier. I'm (just) worried we're too late,'' said Shahriar Afshar, president of the Iranian Trade Association, a group working to end U.S. sanctions on Iran.
In addition to lobbying members of Congress, Iranian-Americans are writing newspaper columns and cooperating with other interest groups to pursue their cause. With about 1 million ethnic Iranians living in America, they also are considering endorsing candidates.
Amir Zamaninia, a spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission, said his government has no ties with Iranian-American groups. He declined comment on their growing range of activities.
Iranian-American activists interviewed for this story said they have no ties to any political faction in Iran. But they clearly support Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to improve ties with the United States, despite hard-line opposition in his country.
``It's a new era in Iran. Sure Khatami's got a difficult time. Now we wan to help him,'' Afshar said.
More than half the Iranians living in the United States are in California, with large communities in New York, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Most have kept a low profile. Some were hindered by language or cultural barriers. Others feared retribution over Iran's alleged ties to terrorism and the hostage crisis.
``Being an Iranian in the U.S. during the 1980s was not an easy time,'' Afshar said. ``We were from a country that was almost publicly acceptable to hate.''
That appears to be changing with the generation of Iranian-Americans who grew up in the United States.
``These children are very interested in rediscovering their roots. They also have a sense on how things are done in the U.S. in a way their parents did not,'' said Gary Sick, a presidential adviser during the Iranian revolution.
Some U.S. corporations with interests in Iran are joining the lobbying effort.
The San Diego-based Iranian Trade Association has attracted more than 20 corporate sponsors to its campaign against sanctions, said Afshar, a 30-year-old former worker in that city's trade office. Among his sponsors is Conoco, which had a $1 billion oil field project in Iran blocked by the U.S. government in 1995.
Gary Marfin, Conoco's manager for government affairs, said the company's alliance with Iranian-Americans is part of its general opposition to economic sanctions.
``About the only impact sanctions do have is lost business and lost job opportunities in the U.S.,'' Marfin said.
Another group, Iranians for International Cooperation, seeks to promote dialogue and cultural exchanges as well as economic ties between Iran and the United States.
Trita Parsi, a graduate student who leads the group from Sweden, said opening Iran to the West will ultimately help average people in impoverished Iran. He also noted that most exiles still have relatives in Iran.
Hundreds of Iranian-Americans have contacted members of Congress since Khatami's election, said Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, a leading supporter of improving relations with Iran.
``About 90 percent of these people ask us to please think about communication'' with Iran, he said.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press