Date: Mar 15, 1998 [ 0: 0: 0]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Mar 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Mar 1998
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There are 3 messages totalling 106 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. irna: Kerman earthquake
2. Iranian pilgrims urged to shun fundamentalist Saudi religious leader
3. Iran's ambassador to New Zealand condemns condom-covered virgin statue


Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 23:56:52 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: irna: Kerman earthquake

thr 002
a rather strong earthquake jolts kerman
kerman, keman prov., march 15, irna -- a rather strong earthquake hit
this southeastern provincial city of kerman at 23:10 hours local time
(19:40 universal time) saturday.
however, there has not been any sort of announcement from the
geophysics centre of tehran university regarding the measurment and
the epicenter of the quake.
no report on possible casualties or damage has been received
subsequent information will be relayed as soon as reports
trickle in.
::irna 15/03/98 00:50


Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 00:30:43 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian pilgrims urged to shun fundamentalist Saudi religious leader

TEHRAN, March 14 (AFP) - A senior Iranian cleric urged Iranian
pilgrims on Saturday to avoid mass prayers led by an extremist Saudi
religious leader during the annual pilgrimage in Mecca.
Grand Ayatollah Javad Tabrizi said in a fatwa published in the
Jomhuri Islami newspaper that "a person who raids a righteous
religion can not be an example."
The Shiite Moslem cleric issued the decree after the Saudi Sunni
Moslem leader, Sheikh Abdel-Rahman Hazifi, reportedly made comments
against the Shiite denomination during prayers last month in the
Saudi mosque Masjed al-Nabi.
Former Iranian president Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was
attending the prayers while on a visit to Saudi Arabia, left the
ceremony in protest, according to Iranian press reports.
The sheikh's comments provoked an uproar among religious
communities in Iran, and several revolutionary foundations and
clerics have sharply reprimanded him.
The new tension comes amid efforts by the two countries to
improve relations after two decades of hostilities, since Iran's
1979 revolution.
"If Saudi Arabia wants to normalize ties, it should not tolerate
the rigid-minded Wahabi groups, at least not in the resting place of
Prophet Mohammad," warned Iran's Islamic Propagation Organisation.
But the head of Iran's Mecca pilgrimage affairs Mohammad
Mohammadi Reyshahri urged Iranians on Friday not to hold separate
prayers during pilgrimage and to join the Sunni masses in a bid to
ensure unity.
Wahabis are an extremist Sunni group hostile to Shiites with
strong bases in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Relations have considerably improved in recent months since
moderate President Mohammad Khatami took office in August. Foreign
Minister Kamal Kharazi was due to pay a one-day visit to Saudi
Arabia on Saturday.
Around 80,000 Iranians are to make the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabi
at the end of this month as part of the annual Hajj ceremony in
Mecca attended by millions of Moslems.


Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 00:30:06 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran's ambassador to New Zealand condemns condom-covered virgin statue

WELLINGTON, March 14 (AFP) -- Iran's ambassador to New Zealand
joined Catholics and other Christians in condemning a display at
Wellington's new national museum of a statue of the Virgin Mary clad
in a condom, news reports said Saturday.
Iran's ambassador, Mohammed Sazegara, was the first signatory to
a joint statement from the Wellington Christian and Muslim
communities deploring the artworks currently on display at the 320
million NZ dollar (182 million US dollar) Te Papa museum, which
opened a month ago.
An embassy spokesman, Reza Ghadami, said the ambassador wanted
Te Papa officials to remove the pieces, the New Zealand Herald
reported Saturday.
"It's misusing freedom. Democracy does not mean you can do what
you like," he said in a statement.
Mary is regarded in Islam as the mother of Jesus, a holy prophet
of the Koran.
Organisers of a protest outside the museum, Graham and Boon Kee
Fox, said they considered the Pictura Britannica exhibits, depicting
the Virgin Mary in a condom and a topless woman as Jesus in the Last
Supper, as offensive, blasphemous and a direct attack on Christ,
NZPA reported Saturday.
"We protest because the museum exhibition is mocking Christian
faith," they said.
Museum operations manager Tim Ryan said the right to a peaceful
protest was respected, provided museum visitors were able to come
and go unhindered.
A spokesman for Cultural Affairs minister Simon Upton said the
Government view was that the controversy was the museum's business.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Mar 1998