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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Mar 1999 to 19 Mar 1999

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Mar 1999 to 19 Mar 1999
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There are 2 messages totalling 272 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Girls as Boys
2. New Revolution

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Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 13:35:07 -0406
From: Mehran Sam <msam@HMS.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: Girls as Boys

TEHRAN, March 16 (AFP) - Three teenaged Iranian girls were
brought before a Tehran court for walking the streets of the capital
dressed as boys, the Iranian newspaper Khorassan reported Tuesday.
"We always dreamed of being boys," the three told the judge
Monday, adding that they had defied the Islamic republic's strict
female dress code in order to be "left alone."
Parastou, Elnaz and Mojghan -- ages 15, 16 and 17 respectively
-- were also charged with leaving their family homes without
permission.
"I was working in a hair salon and one day Elnaz and Mojghan
came and asked me to cut their hair very short," Parastou told the
judge.
"That's when I knew they had a cool plan," she said, adding that
she took part to show her "solidarity" with the other two.
Elnaz told the court that her parents had always wanted a son
and that her mother particularly regretted that she is a girl, the
paper said.
Mojghan said she had been abused by her stepfather and said that
to be left alone she would "have to live as a boy."
Faced with their transvestite tales the judged ruled himself
incompetent in the matter and referred the case to another court.

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Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 14:47:46 -0500
From: Mehran Sam <mehran_sam@HMS.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: New Revolution

20 years later, a new 'revolution' grips Iran

By Charles M. Sennott
03/16/99
The Boston Globe

TEHRAN - Twenty years ago, Fatimeh Jaliehpour was an 18-year-old
leader among the Islamic student revolutionaries who stormed the US
Embassy here and took 52 Americans hostage.

Now a 38-year-old mother of four, Jaliehpour has emerged as a leader
of what she calls Iran's ''second revolution'' for an Islamic brand
of democracy and pluralism, winning a seat on the powerful Tehran
City Council in the republic's first municipal elections.

Twenty years after the revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah,
Iran is again writhing with change. Not only have the recent
elections been the nation's boldest experiment with decentralized
democracy to date, but its reformist president moved last week to
break Iran's two decades of diplomatic isolation with an official
visit to Italy and the pope.

And though the shifting tides of history may make it seem that
Jaliehpour has changed course, she says her views and her values have
been constant. In many ways, her history illustrates the unfulfilled
dreams and yearnings for democracy over the last two decades in Iran.

Jaliehpour has always believed in democracy, she says, but only
within the context of Islam. She says she believed in democracy when
she charged into the US Embassy in 1979 and the United States branded
her a terrorist. And she says she believes in democracy today as she
fights for democratic reform and the US applauds what she represents.

''We have so much work to do here to make our dreams for this country
and for our children come true,'' she said, adjusting her chador, the
traditional head covering that is mandatory under Iran's strict
religious laws. ''But we must determine our own path and not be
steered by anyone.''

The changes she now seeks are embodied in President Mohammad Khatami,
whose trip to Europe last week was the first by an Iranian president
since the 1979 revolution. But even as Khatami attempts to open up
what he calls a ''civil society,'' he is constitutionally subservient
to the clerical hierarchy headed by Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei.

The conservative clerical leadership is resisting the push for
democratic reforms in this nation of 65 million people, and the
battle for the future of Iran remains uncertain.

However that future unfolds, Fatimeh Jaliehpour and her family seem
destined to play a role, just as they helped shape the country's
recent history.

The values that have guided Jaliehpour throughout are those of her
parents, who were themselves traditional and very religious, she
said.

The family patriarch, Mohammed Jaliehpour, was a rice merchant in
Tehran's bazaar, the open market that has been a center of city life
since at least the days of the Silk Road, the fabled trade route that
linked east Asia to the Mediterranean. It is a place where the smells
of spices, fresh produce, and strong coffee fill the air even today.

>From the elder Jaliehpour and his wife, Hajeh, the six children
learned contempt for what they saw as the West's secular and
promiscuous culture, which was so eagerly embraced by the shah.

After the shah gained power in a CIA-backed coup that toppled an
elected nationalist president, Mohammed Jaliehpour kept a small
black-and-white photo of the Ayatollah Khomeini hidden in a wooden
box. He knew, and the children knew, that the shah's secret police
arrested anyone who publicly displayed the image of Khomeini, who in
February 1979 would return from exile as the spiritual leader of
Iran's revolution and the Islamic Republic that grew from it.

The family faithfully attended Friday prayers at the Ayatollah Saiidi
Mosque. Although the shah had crushed more secular opponents,
especially the communists, there was little he could do to suppress
the message in the mosques. It was there that they first heard anyone
voice opposition to the shah.

But when the shah's government offered free higher education to all
in an attempt to co-opt the growing discontent, the Jaliehpours, like
many working-class families, took advantage. Soon five of their
children were on their way to university.

In 1979, the tide turned, and Fatimeh, then 18, and her brother
Hamed, then 20, were swept up in the student protests. That February,
the shah fled, and by the next November she was one of the five
youths who led the taking of the US Embassy after President Jimmy
Carter admitted the exiled shah to the United States.

For Americans, the grainy television images of that day - students
storming the embassy's steel gates and blindfolded Americans paraded
before cheering crowds - remain a symbol of the frightening power of
Iran's Islamic revolution. And Iran's subsequent history of exporting
its revolution has kept the nation under strict international
sanctions, isolated as a ''rogue state.''

Yet Fatimeh Jaliehpour remembers Nov. 4, 1979, from a very different
perspective.

''There was tear gas in my eyes. And I remember using my chador to
shield against the smoke,'' she said. ''It was exciting, and we felt
we were willing to risk our lives to fight for our country.''

''We wanted to know why America would harbor a criminal,'' Jaliehpour
said, referring to the shah. ''It was protest, then it became a
hostage crisis.''

To Jaliehpour and many of the students who took part, it is still
puzzling how the embassy protest turned into a hostage-taking that
lasted 444 days. The students thought the Americans would be held for
only two days. But it became a powerful political tool that was
co-opted by Khomeini's circle to consolidate its power.

It is one of the ironies of modern Iran that many of those student
protesters are among those now trying to loosen the political hold
the religious hierarchy gained from the hostages the students took.

Jaliehpour expresses regret for the harm caused to the hostages, but
she has no apologies for her actions.

''As human beings, we felt for the hostages and their families,'' she
said. ''But we also felt then and feel now that, as youth who loved
their country and loved their faith in Islam, that the work of the
revolution, even taking the embassy, was necessary at the time.''

Her older brother, Hamed, 40, describes being swept up ''in the
charisma of Imam Khomeini'' and cheering in the streets while his
sister and the other students stormed the embassy. Yet today he views
that part of the revolution differently.

''Ultimately, I think you'd have to say it hurt the revolution,'' he
said in an interview in his office at Nashat, a newspaper that is a
leading voice of the reform movement and where he is publisher. His
sister writes an occasional column.

''It hurt us with our relations in the international community,''
Hamed Jaliehpour said. ''In many ways, we are still paying the price
for it.''

For his views, his newspaper has been shut down three times by the
clerical establishment, and he has been arrested several times. Often
he finds himself at odds with many of the young people with whom he
stood in the street supporting the early revolution.

''Now they say I am no longer committed to Islamic principles,'' he
said. ''But I think we are still fighting for the same thing we were
fighting for back then. We want a democratic, participatory
government that is grounded in Islam. The revolutionary discourse now
has to change to civil discourse.''

The Jaliehpours have much invested in the future, in part because
they have paid a heavy price for the past.

In the infighting after the revolution, the opposition Mujahideen,
which espoused a Marxist Islamic view, as opposed to Khomeini's
strict religious code, gunned down their oldest brother, Mohammad
Reza, who was a strong and active supporter of Khomeini.

Then came the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted eight years, claimed as
many as 500,000 Iranian lives, and left the country bankrupt. Two of
the casualties were Fatimeh's brothers, Ali Reza and Hussein, who
were killed on the front lines in the mid-1980s. They are enshrined
in a Tehran street mural praising them as martyrs.

It was to the dead brothers' memory that their mother appealed four
months ago, when Hamed was arrested and placed in solitary
confinement for his political activity. Hajeh Jaliehpour, now 65,
sent a stinging letter to Khamenei, demanding the release of her son.
His arrest, she wrote, was ''an insult to the memory and the
sacrifice'' of her three lost sons.

''I was released right away,'' said Hamed. ''She is a convincing
woman.''

No less a one is Fatimeh.

Her life as a traditional religious woman balancing a political
career with raising her own four children contravenes many American
notions of women's roles in Iran.

''It can be tiring to balance so much. I'm sure many American women
know what I am saying,'' Jaliehpour said, trying to break free from
the interview to make dinner for her children. ''But we do not have
any time to rest here. We are still in the process of a revolution,
and we are still struggling to make this country a better place. This
is going to take all the strength we have.''

That struggle in ''the second revolution'' has the support of a
younger generation that includes Jaliehpour's much yonger brother,
Hassan, 25.

But Hassan doesn't share the fervor of Fatimeh and Hamed. Hassan was
5 in 1979; today, a medical student, he is bored by his older
siblings' remembrances of the revolution. His focus is on Iran's need
to modernize its health care and tap into advanced technology.

Despite the strain she feels, Fatimeh Jaliehpour said it is her
desire to do more for youth, especially young women, that led her to
run for City Council in the elections held two weeks ago.

Her oldest daughter, Zeynab, 17, has inherited her mother's passion
and progressive views on women's rights within the traditional
framework of a faith in Islam. Mother and daughter bristle at the
notion that the Islamic Republic somehow limits women's rights.

Despite the strictures on dress and Islamic laws that discriminate
against women, they insist that Iranian women have economic and
political opportunities that are perhaps different, but no lesser,
than in Western countries. They point out that the vice president of
Iran is a woman. But they know they still have to work to gain
equality.

Zeynab is studying biology and dreams of working in genetics. She
seems embarrassed to admit she has never used the Internet, which is
controlled by the government, and she recognizes that in its
educational system Iran lags behind much of the world.

''We are a young country in so many ways,'' Zeynab said. ''It is my
mother and uncles who built this new country.

''And now we will have a responsibility to continue their work,'' she
says. ''They played a role, and now I hope that I will be able to
play a role.''


=============================
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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Mar 1999 to 19 Mar 1999
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