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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 1999 to 12 Feb 1999

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 1999 to 12 Feb 1999
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There are 13 messages totalling 907 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. BBC: Iran celebrates revolution
2. IRNA: azari qomi-departure
3. News with a View: She sees hope in Iran's overload of injustice to women
5. Iran warns Azerbaijan against welcoming any NATO base
6. Iranian foreign minister leaves for official visit to Libya
7. Iran rejects German conditions for envoy's visit
8. The decree that poisoned Iran's relations with the West
9. Iran Marks Islamic Revolution
10. Now the party's over, Tehran faces testing times ahead
11. Arafat congratulates Iran on anniversary of revolution
12. Iran test-flies domestically-produced helicopters
13. Iranian hardliners break up rally by reformed US hostage-taker


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 12:49:09 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: BBC: Iran celebrates revolution

Thursday, February 11, 1999 Published at 13:22 GMT

World: Middle East

Iran celebrates revolution

President Khatami called for an end to political feuding

Huge crowds have been parading through the streets of Tehran at the climax
of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution - the
day that the rule of the Shah collapsed.

Helicopters showered the crowd with leaflets, soldiers parachuted in, and
an army band played music in praise of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

In a keynote speech, President Mohammad Khatami told the tens of thousands
who had gathered in Azadi (Freedom) Square that the revolution remained
strong despite the economic crisis caused by the collapse in oil prices.

He said Tehran would continue to seek massive foreign investment to help
its recovery and called for an end to political feuding.

"The rule of law is our most important slogan in the period of the
consolidation of the revolution and on the threshold of the third decade of
the victory of the Islamic Revolution," President Khatami said.

Deep divisions

Thursday's ceremony marked the culmination of the "10-Day Dawn"
commemoration of the events that ended 2,500 years of monarchy and
established the world's first modern theocracy.

Jim Muir: The unwritten rules of dress and behaviour are slowly bending
Busloads of people converged on the capital from outlying towns and suburbs
to take part in the biggest of the anniversary demonstrations called by the

Correspondents say the rally also served to smooth over the deep division
between the reformists and the traditionalists which strikes at the heart
of Iranian society.

Public holiday

Tehran centre was closed off to traffic allowing six large processions to
set off from different points around the capital towards Freedom Square.

Each year the authorities galvanise thousands for the main rally, but this
year the Islamic authorities had called for an even larger turnout than

The republic's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had urged Iranians
to attend. He said: "Every year the revolution's enemies look carefully to
see whether people will participate. Let people show them their continued
support the revolution with their overwhelming presence."

Revolutionary reminder

In the past two weeks, state radio has broadcast a selection of old
revolutionary songs, designed to remind Iranians of the heady days of the
1979 revolution.

But the government has been forced to acknowledge the mounting problems
faced by ordinary people as a collapse in the value of Iran's main export
oil has led to a worsening economic crisis.

"Among the major problems facing the country today are unemployment,
inflation, financial corruption, nepotism, favouritism and, above all, the
lack of expert plans for developing the country's enormous potential," the
English-language Tehran Times said on Wednesday.

But the paper urged Iranians to forget their problems for one day to show
their continued support for the 20-year-old revolution.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 16:08:33 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: IRNA: azari qomi-departure

thr 044
azari qomi-departure
renowned ayatollah passes away
tehran, feb. 11, irna -- a renowned iranian clergy ayatollah ahmad
azari qomi died of stroke minutes ago.
azari qomi had been hospitalized at 'pasteur now' hospital on
january 29 when his physical condition turned critical. he was
transferred later to khatamolanbia hospital due to a stroke.
he had earlier been dispatched to germany late june to undergo
medical treatment due to his blood cancer.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 16:07:57 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: News with a View: She sees hope in Iran's overload of injustice to

Published Thursday, February 11, 1999

News with a View: She sees hope in Iran's overload of injustice to women
Azar Nafisi

I would like to begin with a painting. It is Edgar Degas' "Dancers Practicing
at the Bar," as reproduced in an art book recently published in the Islamic
Republic of Iran. The book gives an explanation of Degas' placement of the
ballerinas: "The two major forms are crowded into the upper right quadrant of
the painting, leaving the rest of the canvas as open space."

So far, everything seems normal. But, like most things in Iran today, it is
not. Upon closer inspection, there is something disturbingly wrong with the
accompanying picture: The ballerinas, you see, have been airbrushed out. There
is only an empty space, the floor, the blank wall and the bar. Like so many
other images of women in Iran, the ballerinas have been censored.

But the irony is that, by their absence, the dancers are rendered glaringly
present. The censors have only made them the focus of our attention. In this
way, Degas' painting is emblematic of a basic paradox of life in Iran on the
20th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

On the one hand, the ruling Islamic regime has succeeded in completely
repressing Iranian women. Women are forbidden to go out in public unless they
are covered by clothing that conceals everything but their hands and faces.
government institutions, universities and airports have separate entrances for
women, where they are searched for lipstick and other weapons of mass
destruction. No infraction is too small to escape notice. At the university
where I used to teach, one woman was penalized for "laughter of a giggling

Yet, while these measures are meant to render women invisible, they are making
women tremendously visible and powerful. The regime, by trying to control and
shape every aspect of women's lives and by staking its legitimacy on the
Iranian people's supposed desire for this control, has unwittingly handed
a powerful weapon: Every private act or gesture in defiance of official rules
is now a strong political statement. And because the regulation of women's
lives intrudes on the private lives of men as well (whose every interaction
with women is closely governed), the regime has alienated not just women but
many men who initially supported the revolution.

Western ignorance

This tension between the Islamic ruling elite and Iranian society at large has
been vastly underestimated by Western observers of Iran. In part this is
because, over the past 20 years, American analysts and academics as well as
Iranian exile community have had little or no access to Iran. They have relied
unduly on the image presented by Iran's ruling clerics.

That image is one of increased openness -- as symbolized by the election of
moderate cleric Muhammad Khatami to the presidency in 1997. Recently, for
example, CNN cheerfully informed us that, after 20 years, the Islamic Republic
has begun to show Hollywood movies. What CNN failed to mention was that
television's version of, for example, "Mary Poppins," showed less than 45
minutes of the actual film. All portions featuring women dancing or singing
were cut out and instead described by an Iranian narrator.

Meanwhile, even as the regime purports to have softened its hostile stance
toward the United States, it has not softened the punishment meted out to
Iranians who dare show an interest in American culture. Soon after he was
appointed, Khatami's new education minister issued a directive forbidding
students to bring material bearing the Latin alphabet or other "decadent
Western symbols" to class.

These are just mild examples of the many ways in which the "new openness" that
characterizes Khatami's rule has been accompanied by increased repression. The
brief spring that followed his victory -- during which freedom of speech
flourished in public demonstrations and new newspapers -- ended with an abrupt
crackdown. The government banned most of the new papers and harassed or jailed
their editors (they have since been released.) Many of the progressive
clergymen who took advantage of the opening to protest the current legal
were also arrested.

The parliament has passed two of the most reactionary laws on women in the
republic's history. The first requires that all medical facilities be
segregated by sex. The second effectively bans publication of women's pictures
on the cover of magazines as well as any form of writing that "creates
between the sexes and is opposed to the Islamic laws."

In the fall, two nationalist opposition leaders, Dariush Foruhar and his wife,
Parvaneh, were murdered, and three prominent writers disappeared. All three
were later found dead. Many Iranians were outraged, and tens of thousands
attended the Foruhars' To the extent that the Western media have taken note of
such incidents, they have mainly cast them as the symptoms of a struggle
between the moderate Khatami and his reactionary fellow clerics. The media
portray acts of repression as measures taken by the hard-liners against
-- as if he, and not the people who were murdered or oppressed, were the real

This simplistic portrayal of Khatami vs. the hard-liners misrepresents the
situation in Iran. Khatami does not represent the opposition in Iran -- and he
cannot. True, in order to win a popular mandate he had to present an agenda
tearing down some of the fundamental pillars of the Islamic Republic. But to
even be eligible for election he had to have impeccable political and
credentials. In other words, he had to be, and clearly is, committed to
upholding the very ideology his constituents so vehemently oppose.

Khatami's tenure has revealed the key dilemma facing the Islamic regime. To
maintain the people's support, the government must reform, but it cannot
without negating itself. The result has been a kind of chaos. One day a new
freedom is granted; the next day an old freedom is rescinded. The struggle is
not just between Khatami and the reactionary clerics, but between the
people of
Iran and all representatives of the government. And at the center of this
struggle is the battle over women's rights.

Memory of a martyr

A second image comes to mind, a woman from the past, Dr. Farokhroo Parsa. Like
the ballerina, her presence is felt through her absence.

Parsa had given up her medical practice to become principal of the girls'
school in Tehran I attended as a teenager. Slowly her pudgy, stern face looms
before me, just as it did when she used to stand outside the school inspecting
the students as we entered the building. Her smile was always accompanied by
the shadow of a frown, as if she were afraid that we would take advantage of
that smile and betray the vision she had created for her school. That vision,
her life's goal, was for us, her girls, to be truly educated.

Under the shah, Parsa rose to become one of the first Iranian women to be
elected to the Iranian parliament, and then, in 1968, she became Iran's first
female cabinet minister, in charge of higher education. In that post she tried
not only to raise the quality of education but also to purge the school
textbooks of sexist images of women. When the shah was ousted in 1979 by a
diverse group of opposition figures that included Muslim clerics, leftists and
nationalists, Parsa was one of the many high functionaries of the previous
government whom the revolutionaries summarily tried and executed.

Since then, time and again, I have tried to imagine her moment of death. But,
while I can see her living face with its smile and frown, I cannot envision
features at the specific moment when that smile and frown forever disappeared.
Could she have divined how, not long afterward, her students and her students'
students would also be made shapeless and invisible not in death but in life?

For this, on a broader scale, is precisely what the clerics have done to all
Iranian women. Almost immediately upon seizing power, Ayatollah Khomeini began
taking back women's hard-won rights. He justified his actions by claiming that
he was actually restoring women's dignity and rescuing them from the degrading
and dangerous ideas that been imposed on them by Western imperialists and
agents, among which he included the shah.

In making this claim, the Islamic regime not only robbed Iran's women of their
rights; it robbed them of their history. For the advent of women's liberation
in Iran was the result of a homegrown struggle on the part of Iranian women
themselves for the creation of a modern nation, a fight that reached back more
than a century.

Leafing through the books about women's movements of the early 20th century,
one is amazed at their members' courage and daring. So many names and images
crowd the pages. I pick one at random: Sediqeh Dowlatabadi, daughter of a
learned and religious man from an old and highly respected family, who was the
editor of a monthly journal for women. In the 1910s she was beaten and
for three months for establishing a girls' school. One can only guess the
degree of her rage and resentment against her adversaries by her will, in
she proclaimed: "I will never forgive women who visit my grave veiled."

It was only appropriate that those who murdered Parsa should also not tolerate
Dowlatabadi, even in her death. In August 1980, Islamic vigilantes demolished
her tomb and the tombs of her father and brother who, although men of
had supported her activities.

But over the ensuing years, the modernizers gained ground. By 1979, women were
active in all areas of life in Iran. The number of girls attending schools was
on the rise. The number of female candidates for universities had risen
sevenfold during the first half of the 1970s. Women were encouraged to
participate in areas normally closed to them through a quota system that gave
preferential treatment to eligible girls. Women were scholars, police
judges, pilots, and engineers -- active in every field except the clergy.

A many-hued protest

Another image surfaces -- this one a photograph that appeared in an American
magazine; I can't remember which one. It was taken on a snowy day in March
and shows thousands of shouting women massed into one of Tehran's wide
Their expressions are arresting, but what draws my attention is how, in
contrast to today's pictures of women in Iran -- depressing images of drab
figures cloaked in black cloth -- this photograph is filled with color. The
women are dressed in vibrant reds, bright blues, almost as if they had
tried to
make themselves stand out as much as possible. On that March day, they had
gathered to express their resistance to -- and their outrage at -- Khomeini's
attempt to make them invisible.

Some days earlier, the ayatollah had launched the first phase of his crackdown
on women's rights. First, he had announced the annulment of the Family
Protection Law that had, since 1967, helped women work outside the home and
given them more rights in their marriages. In its place the traditional
law, known as Sharia, would apply. In one fell swoop the ayatollah had set
back nearly a century.

Under the new system, the age of consent for girls has been changed from 18 to
9. Yet no woman no matter what age can marry for the first time without the
consent of her father, and no married woman can leave the country without her
husband's written and notarized consent. Adultery is punishable by stoning. On
the witness stand it takes the testimony of two women to equal that of one
If a Muslim man kills a Muslim woman and is then sentenced to death, her
must first pay him compensation for his life.

As if all this were not enough, Khomeini also announced the reimposition of
veil, decreeing that no woman could go to work unless she was fully covered.
Later, his regime prohibited women from shopping without a veil. By the early
'80s, and after much violence, the regime had succeeded in making the veil the
uniform of all Iranian women.

Even as it enabled the regime to consolidate its control over every aspect of
its subjects' lives, this act firmly established the separation between the
regime and the Iranian population. To implement its new laws, the regime
created vice squads that patrol the cities on the lookout for any citizen
guilty of a "moral offense." The guards are allowed to raid not just public
places but private homes, in search of alcoholic drinks, "decadent" music or
videos, people playing cards, sexually mixed parties or unveiled women.

Ordinary Iranian citizens -- both men and women -- began to feel the presence
and intervention of the state in their most private daily affairs. These
officers were not there to arrest criminals who threatened the lives or safety
of the populace; they were there to control the populace, to take people away,
and to flog and imprison them.

Youthful rebels

The government had claimed that only a handful of "Westernized" women had
opposed its laws, but now, 20 years after the revolution, its most outspoken
and daring opponents are the children of that revolution. The suppression of
culture in the name of defending against the West's "cultural invasion" has
made these youths almost obsessed with the culture they are being deprived of.

Young girls have turned the veil into an instrument of protest. They wear
it in
attractive and provocative ways. They leave part of their hair showing from
under their scarves or allow colorful clothing to show underneath their
uniforms. They walk in a defiant manner. And in doing so they have become a
constant reminder to the ruling elite that it is fighting a losing battle.

In fact, there is an almost artistic symmetry to the way Iranian women at the
end of the 20th century, as at its beginning, are at the center of the larger
struggle for the creation of an open and pluralistic society in Iran. The
future twists and turns of this struggle are uncertain, but of one thing I am
sure: A time will come when the Degas ballerinas return to their rightful

-- Azar Nafisi, a former professor of English at the University of Tehran,
is a
visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced
International Studies. A longer version of this article first appeared in the
New Republic.

© Copyright 1999 Star Tribune.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 09:38:35 EST

Prevent the Dutch Government from Deporting Iranian Asylum Seekers
Back to Persecution

February 12, 1999

Dear Friend,

Join the campaign against the Dutch government’s inhuman treatment
of Iranian asylum seekers. Support the asylum seekers’ demands
that the Dutch government:

1. Cancel the report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that effectively
deems Iran a "safe" country;
2. Cease the deportation of Iranian asylum seekers;
3. Re-open all rejected casefiles; and,
4. Recognize the undeniable right to asylum for Iranians.

As you know, on January 22, the Dutch Council of Ministers accepted
a new report on Iran from the Minister of Foreign Affairs which cites
only certain categories of persons as "still running the risk of
persecution." In 1997 and 1995, similar attempts were defeated
through the organized struggle of Iranian asylum seekers and their
supporters. In 1997, IFIR and its Netherlands Branch organized a sit-in
and mass demonstrations, and spoke before the Dutch parliament.

The Dutch government’s attempt to once again negate two decades
of terror and cruelty and deny any other form of persecution in the
brutal Islamic Republic of Iran is outrageous - especially in light of
the recent assassinations. Eager to build economic and political
relations, the Dutch government has taken the racism and deception
of its previous report to new heights. Now, the torture, execution,
and gender-apartheid capital of the world is effectively "safe" for
political opponents, workers, women, youth, and children. It seems
that in their Iran, "intellectuals, homosexuals and Baha’is" only still
run the "risk" of persecution. Presumably, most of the 4,600 Iranians
in central and regional "reception facilities" won’t face such "risks."

It was our collective efforts that forced the Dutch government to retreat
in the past. Join us to put an end to their masquerade once and for all.
Support this important struggle by organizing actions and by sending
protest faxes and letters to Dutch government officials and embassies
in your countries of residence. The Dutch government must be reminded
that it cannot play with the lives of human beings.

In Solidarity,
Maryam Namazie
IFIR Deputy Director
GPO, PO Box 7051
New York, NY 10116
Tel: 212-747-1046
Fax: 212-425-7240

P.S. If you do not have access to a fax or cannot fax long distance,
please send your letters to IFIR at 212-425-7260 (fax) or
(e-mail) and we will forward them for you.


Het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Netherlands
via fax: (31) 70 348 4848

De Minister President W. Kok
The Netherlands
via fax: (31) 70 365 18 08

A. H. Korthals
Minister of Justice
M. J. Cohen
State Secretary of Justice
The Netherlands
via fax: (31) 70 370 79 37

Stephen van Wersch
First Secretary
Netherlands Embassy
via fax: 202-364-4213

I am / my organization is outraged that the Dutch government has
once again effectively deemed Iran "safe." The Dutch government
must address the legitimate demands of Iranian asylum seekers and:

1. Cancel the new report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that effectively
deems Iran a "safe" country;
2. Cease the deportation of Iranian asylum seekers;
3. Re-open all rejected casefiles; and,
4. Recognize the undeniable right to asylum for Iranians.

I / my organization await (s) your action in this life and death matter
for countless individuals who have fled the Islamic Republic of Iran.



CC: IFIR, GPO, PO Box 7051, New York, NY 10116. Tel: 212-747-1046.
Fax: 212-425-7260. E-mail:


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 22:59:39 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran warns Azerbaijan against welcoming any NATO base

TEHRAN, Feb 12 (AFP) - Iran warned neighbouring Azerbaijan on
Friday to drop any plans to welcome a NATO base on its territory to
counter alleged Russian support for its rival Armenia.
"Azerbaijani officials should know that any NATO base in the
Caspian Sea region will be extremely dangerous and constitutes a
threat to peace and development," said Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a
former president who is now a top aide to supreme leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei.
"NATO and the United States should know that their presence in
the region will be a source of tension for themselves and an
obstacle to the exploitation of the oil of the Caspian," he told
worshippers at weekly prayers.
Last month Azerbaijani officials called on NATO, US or Turkish
troops to establish bases in the Caucasian republic to guarantee
security against Moscow's military alliance with Baku's arch-rival
"Azerbaijan's security finds itself under a great threat, in
connection with the massive arms deliveries from Russia to Armenia,"
Vafa Goulizade, a top foreign policy adviser to President Heydar
Aliyev, told AFP.
His remarks drew a strong reaction from Moscow, which said the
comments were part of efforts to "aggravate relations between
Azerbaijan and Russia."
Azerbaijan has accused Russia in recent weeks of sending MiG-29
fighter jets and S-300 rocket systems to Armenia, which fought a
six-year war with Azerbaijan over the mainly Armenian enclave of
Nagorno Karabakh located on its territory.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 22:59:48 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian foreign minister leaves for official visit to Libya

TEHRAN, Feb 12 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi
left for Libya Friday for a series of meetings with senior
officials, a ministry spokesman told the official news agency IRNA.
The spokesman gave no details of the agenda for the meetings
beyond saying that they would address "bilateral relations and
issues of mutual interest."
It is the first visit to Libya by an Iranian foreign minister
since March 1997.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 22:59:57 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran rejects German conditions for envoy's visit

TEHRAN, Feb 12 (AFP) - Tehran rejected Friday Bonn's conditions
for pressing ahead with a planned visit by its special envoy as
officials failed to pardon a German businessman facing the death
penalty here as predicted in the German media.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects any form of precondition
in its foreign relations," ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told
the official news agency IRNA in reaction to the conditions set by
Germany for a visit by its special envoy Chancellory Minister Bodo
Bonn announced on Wednesday that it was postponing Hombach's
visit until there was "greater clarity" from Tehran about the case
of businessman Helmut Hofer, who faces execution here for an alleged
illicit affair with a Moslem Iranian woman.
But Asefi insisted that Tehran's position on the Hofer case was
already perfectly clear -- it was a matter for the courts.
"The scrutiny of Helmut Hofer's case is entirely at the
discretion of the judiciary and is an entirely non-political issue,"
he said.
Hombach had been due to visit Iran early this month on the
pretext of attending the first performances here since the 1979
Islamic revolution by a German theatre company.
Last November Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder appointed him as his
special envoy on Hofer's case.
Some of the German media had reported that the businessman would
be pardoned to mark this week's 20th anniversary of the Islamic
But when supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei annnounced the
list of those who would benefit from anniversary pardons Friday, all
75 of them were Shiite Moslem clergymen convicted by a special
clerical court, IRNA reported.
Hofer is currently waiting to hear a final verdict from the
supreme court on his appeal against the death sentence -- Iranian
justice officials have said it will be announced some time this
Jailed in September 1997, Hofer was sentenced to death early
last year.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 23:00:08 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: The decree that poisoned Iran's relations with the West

TEHRAN, Feb 12 (AFP) - The death sentence against British writer
Salman Rushdie which still bedevils Iran's relations with the West
took the form of an appeal "to all Moslems of the world" from the
late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"I ask all Moslems of the world rapidly to execute the author
and the publishers of the book, anywhere in the world, so that no
one will any longer dare to offend the sacred values of Moslems,"
said the fatwa or religious decree he issued 10 years ago on
Khomeini, who was 89 at the time and had just four months to
live, added that anyone who was killed trying to carry out the death
sentence should be considered a "martyr," who would go to paradise.
The revered revolutionary leader's decree prompted an immediate
response from the Iranian government which the very next day called
a "national day of mourning" for the "poisonous and offensive
remarks about Islam" it said were contained in Rushdie's book, "The
Satanic Verses."
The novel, which many Moslems considered blasphemous, had
already been banned in several Islamic countries as well as in
Rushdie's country of birth, India, despite its avowedly secular
The book had also provoked riots in Pakistan in which six people
were killed and disturbances in many other countries, including
Britain itself.
But Khomeini's fatwa met with horror around the Western world
and rapidly became the principal obstacle to any normalization of
relations between the European Union and the Islamic Republic.
Britain and Iran, whose relations were already strained, broke
off diplomatic ties altogether.
Relations were partially restored in September 1990, but 10
years later there is still no British ambassador in Tehran.
Rushdie himself went into hiding under the protection of
Britain's intelligence services, announcing that he took Khomeini's
fatwa "very seriously."
Subsequently the Japanese translator of his book was murdered,
the Italian translator stabbed and a Norwegian publisher shot,
although it was never clear whether the attacks were the work of
Iranian agents or of Islamic militants acting independently in
response to Khomeini's call.
In the view of most foreign analysts the fatwa has had the
effect it was intended to have.
Then as now hardline defenders of the anti-Western
self-sufficiency originally advocated by the revolution wanted to
undermine any attempt by moderates or pragmatists within the regime
to open up to the outside world.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 23:00:26 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran Marks Islamic Revolution

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Verses from the Koran read over mosque
loudspeakers echoed through Tehran today while hundreds of
thousands gathered to mark the 20th anniversary of Iran's Islamic
Speaking to the crowd at Tehran's Freedom Square, President
Mohammad Khatami marked the anniversary by promising to usher in a
new era of order and law.
``The stability of the revolution is only possible with the rule
of law,'' said Khatami, whose moderate policies have irked
hard-line clergymen and sparked charges that he was undermining the
``Defending the revolution is defending the constitution,''
Khatami said.
Earlier, helicopters hovering above Freedom Square showered the
crowds with colorful leaflets. Free soft drinks and sweets were
distributed in the streets surrounding the square, a symbol of
Iran's 1979 revolution that toppled the pro-Western monarchy of the
shah and installed a clergy-led regime.
In a message to the nation on the eve of the anniversary, Iran's
supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: ``Our great revolution
marched on its arduous road with pride and confidence'' despite
``hostile acts'' by the United States.
``The pioneer and harbinger of irreconcilable enmity (with Iran)
was the American government and its Zionist appendix in the Middle
East,'' Khamenei added, alluding to Israel.
But the only obvious anti-Western hint in today's gathering at
Freedom Square came when several demonstrators set fire to two
American flags and an effigy of Uncle Sam.
The festivities also included several firsts for the Islamic
republic. Actors dressed as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny and a
variety of animals sang and danced in a carnival-like parade.
There also was a pop concert, and Italian composer and singer
Franco Battiato is to perform in Tehran for three nights next week.
Such events point to how much the government's restrictions on
music and dance have been eased since the reform-minded Khatami
took office in 1997. He has been accused by Islamic hard-liners of
undermining the revolution by relaxing Islamic social restrictions.
Khatami's promises of more political freedoms for Iran's 60
million people have angered powerful hard-line rivals who control
key institutions such as the judiciary, the security forces, the
intelligence network and the office of Khamenei, who has the last
say on all matters.
Over the past 18 months, hard-liners have resorted to more
violence to deal with pro-Khatami opponents. Vigilantes have
attacked dissidents, liberal newspapers and even a reformist
Cabinet minister. The intelligence minister resigned Tuesday after
the department, controlled by hard-liners, admitted that its agents
were involved in the killing of dissidents.
Khatami today called for civil rights to be respected, saying
the best way to reach that goal was to participate in the running
of the country, including local elections scheduled for February
Despite several parades and the lights, flags, banners and
posters adorning trees and walls, the anniversary festivities were
rather tame. Iran's economic woes, caused by record-low oil prices,
have forced the government to cut spending.
This year's celebrations also fall on the anniversary of the
death of a Shiite Muslim saint, Imam Jafar Sadeq, and so are less
festive than usual. Several black flags of mourning flew alongside
the banners of the Islamic Republic at Freedom Square.
State-run television ran live coverage of today's events at
Freedom Square interspersed with footage from the days of the
revolution -- mostly mobs clashing with troops of the shah's regime.
The anniversary festivities, which built to a crescendo today,
began February 1, the day the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the
father of the revolution, returned to Iran from France after 15
years in exile.
The 38-year rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi collapsed on Feb.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 23:00:39 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Now the party's over, Tehran faces testing times ahead

TEHRAN, Feb 11 (AFP) - The climax of 10 days of lavish 20th
birthday celebrations Thursday highlighted the durability of Iran's
Islamic regime, but daunting challenges remain to be tackled if this
durability is to give way to real stability.
The mass rallies attended by hundreds of thousands of Iranians
in cities across the country displayed the regime's continuing
ability to mobilize large numbers of the population 20 years after
the revolution.
But the Iranian press grows daily bolder and more open in
expressing concern about the declining living standards and mounting
disenchantment of ordinary people.
"The faithful Iranian people still adhere wholeheartedly to the
ideals and principles of the Islamic Revolution," the English
language Tehran Times insisted on the eve of Thursday's final day of
But the paper added that the public's commitment is being sorely
tested by "the major problems" still facing Iran.
"Unemployment, inflation, financial corruption, nepotism,
favouritism and, above all, the lack of expert plans for developing
the country's enormous potential," all remain problems, the paper
In his keynote anniversary address, the regime's most popular
figure -- moderate President Mohammad Khatami -- vowed to tackle the
problems by continuing the programme of reforms he launched after
his shock election victory in 1997.
The reformist president promised Iranians that after 20 years of
uncertainty and isolation the Islamic Republic would settle down..
But each time Khatami holds out the prospect of better times
ahead and vows to press on with his reforms, he inevitably also
highlights how bad things are at present.
For instance the moderate president never tires of reminding the
public of the campaign platform which attracted their support in the
presidential election two years ago.
"The slogan of this government has been respect for the law and
especially the constitution," the president reminded the crowds on
But for many people Khatami's repeated references to enforcing
the rule of law underlines how little it has been respected in the
The president also talks a great deal about the need to look
after the interests of women and teenagers, the two sectors of the
electorate which secured his election victory over conservative
opponent Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri, two years ago.
But his trademark call for more attention to be paid to
youngsters, now routinely echoed by other officials, only serves to
underline how disenchanted many of the nearly 50 percent of Iran's
population born after the revolution have become.
Teenagers -- who can vote from the age of 15 -- are more
attracted by the capital's growing number of burger bars and the
banned youth culture of the hated West than by the politics of the
Islamic regime.
Khatami's calls for a massive turnout in Iran's landmark local
elections later this month -- the first in the country's history --
are largely directed at the young whose support is seen as vital for
the success of his reforms.
The municipal elections pit reformist supporters of Khatami
against his conservative opponents as both sides seek to strengthen
their local power base ahead of parliamentary elections next year.
Those elections are vital for Khatami as the currently
conservative dominated parliament is the biggest obstacle to his
But the president's ability to retain the support of Iran's
rising tide of baby-boomers largely depends on his success in
tackling the country's mounting economic crisis and providing them
with the prospect of jobs.
And his ability to create employment has been massively
curtailed over the past six months by the huge hole in government
income left by the plummetting world price for Iran's main export
In his anniversary address Khatami was only able to boast the
creation of 35,000 new jobs in a population of 60 million.


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 23:00:45 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Arafat congratulates Iran on anniversary of revolution

GAZA CITY, Feb 11 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on
Thursday sent messages congratulating Iranians on the 20th
anniversary of the Islamic revolution which toppled the Shah, the
Palestinian news agency reported.
Arafat sent one message to President Mohammed Khatami and a
second to former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Wafa reported.
"We will soon share in celebrations by the Palestinian people on
the foundation of an independent state with its capital in Jerusalem
where we will pray together, God willing," the message to Rafsanjani
Despite the warmth of Arafat's message, Palestinian-Iranian
relations have historically been vexed, particularly since the
founding of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.
Arafat visited Iran last year for the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC) summit meeting where he met with Khatami.
But the Palestinian Authority has directed a number of
broadsides at Iranian regime for its alleged support of the militant
groups Islamic Jihad and Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 23:00:53 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran test-flies domestically-produced helicopters

TEHRAN, Feb 10 (AFP) - Iran showed off two domestically-produced
combat helicopters on Wednesday, as part of its programme for
military self-sufficiency.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and his Defence Minister Ali
Shamkhani saw the test flight of the new lightly-armed Shabaviz 2-75
capable of carrying up to 14 passengers, state radio said.
"The helicopter has a flight range of 500 kilometres (300 miles)
and can fly at an altitude of 12,600 feet (3,800 metres)," it said.
The army also displayed an Iranian-designed reconnaissance
helicopter, dubbed 2061, which can carry up to five people, and
US-made Cobra helicopters, repaired by Iranian engineers after being
damaged in the 1980-88 war against Iraq.
Iran has worked to develop its defence industries in a bid to
counter a US ban on the transfer of sensitive technologies to the
Islamic republic.
The country has developed medium-range ballistic missiles and
said last year it had begun producing its own fighter-bombers,
called Azarakhsh (Thunder).


Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 23:01:02 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian hardliners break up rally by reformed US hostage-taker

TEHRAN, Feb 9 (AFP) - Hardliners chanting anti-US slogans broke
up a rally organized by a former US hostage-taker turned leading
supporter of improved relations with the United States, his
newspaper reported Tuesday.
More than a dozen fundamentalists attacked Abbas Abdi, now the
editor of the left-wing daily Salaam, as he prepared to address the
rally in the Mohammadieh Mosque in the holy city of Qom, the paper
Intervention by his supporters prevented Abdi being hurt, his
paper said, but the security forces took no action against the
hardliners when they intervened to stop the disturbances.
A member of the committee which planned the seizure of the US
embassy here in November 1979, Abdi is now a leading supporter of
reformist President Mohammad Khatami and his calls for a "dialogue"
between Islamic and Western civilizations.
Abdi has been a particular target for hardliners since he met US
diplomat and former hostage Barry Rosen in Paris last July.
Radical left-wingers made common cause with moderates to back
Khatami to his shock election victory in May 1997.
Abdi's paper is managed by Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khoenia, who
was a spokesman for the students who held 52 US embassy staff
hostage for 444 days sparking Washington to break off diplomatic
relations in 1980.
Khatami's government has sought to "crack open the wall of
mistrust" with the United States, but has met with resistance from
conservatives and hardliners here.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 1999 to 12 Feb 1999