roozonline.com: Latest News http://www.roozonline.com/ Latest News en roozonline.com: Latest News http://www.roozonline.com/fileadmin/images/rsslogo/rooz.jpg http://www.roozonline.com/ 134 40 Latest News TYPO3 - get.content.right http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Sat, 23 Jan 2016 22:43:00 +0000 Rooz publication http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2016/january/23/article/rooz-publication.html Rooz has stopped its regular publication since 1st January 2016 due to budgetary problems. The Rooz team hope to resume the publication in a new format as soon as possible.

Rooz has stopped its regular publication since 1st January 2016 due to budgetary problems. The Rooz team hope to resume the publication in a new format as soon as possible.

]]>
report Sat, 23 Jan 2016 22:43:00 +0000
Last Resort: Total Power Blackout http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/30/article/last-resort-total-power-blackout.html After workers working for power utilities went on strike in front of the ministry of energy earlier this week and set up tents, an official from the state management and planning organization pledged to discuss their issues with their representatives by Wednesday and examine their problems. Fahimeh Abdollahi

After workers working for power utilities went on strike in front of the ministry of energy earlier this week and set up tents, an official from the state management and planning organization pledged to discuss their issues with their representatives by Wednesday and examine their problems. Following this assurance by Sadr Nouri, the spokesman for Rouhani’s administration and head of the planning and management organization, the striking workers removed their tents but planned to continue their protest in front of parliament, the Majlis. The workers also threatened that they would follow up their demands through a national black out if necessary, raising concerns at the ministry of energy. The representatives of workers are also expected to discuss their issues at social committee of the Majlis on Monday. The representative of about 5,000 contract workers who provide services to the ministry of energy and power plants across the country began their strike on Sunday in front of the planning and management organization and also the Majlis. Most of these operators have graduate degrees from institutions of higher education but have been employed for what they say are under paid salaries, for which they have gone on strikes in the past as well. These operators of high voltage power lines had gone on strike during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration and had been promised changes to their working conditions, to no avail though. Last week, the representatives of these workers issued a statement to the media announcing their strike and pledging to continue their sit-in until their demands are met. Earlier, the protests of the workers had resulted in a letter signed by 70 Majlis representatives sent to the minister of energy calling on the officials to address the demands of the workers. Following that protest, the workers also staged another sit-in in late 2006 in front of the president’s office, demanding higher pay. The result of that protest was a letter that the then-minister of energy sent to the planning and management organization calling it to address the workers’ demands. Nothing came out of that protest so the Majlis prepared a bill that strived to increase the wages of the contracting workers to meet those of government employees of the same rank, among other provisions. But the bill went from one committee to another and ultimately did not become law. That only resulted in more protests by the workers. More talks and sit-ins ultimately produced pledges that the workers would be hired permanently and their salaries increased. But this agreement was thrown out when representatives of the workers met with those of the government’s planning and management organization and Majlis representatives. This time, the protesting workers seem to be impatient and have said they would resort to a national power outage strike if their demands for better pay and more secure positions are not met.]]>
report Wed, 30 Dec 2015 08:31:00 +0000
Iran’s Theocracy Under the Control of the IRGC http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/25/article/irans-theocracy-under-the-control-of-the-irgc.html To quote a well-known Iranian politician, the Islamic republic of Iran has created special rights for the clergy, contrary to the practices of the prophets and original imams because they did not give the right to government to any particular social class or group. Taghi Rahmani

To quote a well-known Iranian politician, the Islamic republic of Iran has created special rights for the clergy, contrary to the practices of the prophets and original imams because they did not give the right to government to any particular social class or group. But despite this, the representative of the supreme leader of Iran, ayatollah Khamenei, in the Revolutionary Guards force (IRGC) recently announced that the force “determines the ministry of intelligence, the military, the law enforcement forces and the culture of the country. At the same time, this very military force has all the necessary resources to protect the revolution as it is the duty of the IRGC to protect the revolution.” This comment from cleric Saeedi who represents Mr Khamenei deserves examination. The words “determine” and “protect” are words that mean control. The IRGC is itself a security and cultural institution and enjoys vast state privileges and wealth. It is said that over 180 billion Dollars are transferred from the public sector to military and non-military sectors of the corps. These words and remarks give the IRGC the special position of determining the postures of the clergy, through support from the supreme leader. In other words, it is the IRGC that owns the country, the control of the supreme leader, and thus gives legitimacy to the regime. As a consequence only those clerics are acceptable to the IRGC who listen to senior ayatollahs who are presented through the IRGC. In this transfer of power from the supreme leader and clerics to the IRGC and then back to the leader, one is reminded of the famous saying that a government by a class or race ultimately works against that very group, because ultimately leadership concentrates in the hands of a group that acts in a monopolistic manner. This leadership group then denies independence and creativity to the very class and group it says it represents while it is viewed by the public to be in charge. But if this is the state of affairs in Iran, why is such a senior official restating it? The answer lies in the fact that this relationship and control is not completely accepted. It remains challenged. The legitimacy of this role and position of the IRGC was sharply lost in 2009 (when the massive national peace protests that were violently and criminally suppressed by the IRGC and its off shoot the Basij para military force). The regime however is in clash with the interests of the bureaucrats and is not in line with the views of the orthodox clerics in the theology centers. There are stories that ayatollah Khamenei criticized the clergy in his youth. In practice too it has emerged that he does not have a solid place among the clerics. This weak position among clerics calls for a shift in the structure of power in the regime. The conservative clerics chose Rafsanjani while the IRGC chose Khamenei. But the original view was that the Guards would gradually fall under the sway of the supreme leader. The leader did not need the complete support of the IRGC but the force emerged as the chosen class for the supreme leader and in practice it moved towards monopolizing all the resources and power. But this is what is being challenged and the battle rages still rages on. Put in a different language, the clerics could never be the main sources of power in the country. In Rafsanjani’s power model, the clergy would keep its independence while enjoying a partnership with the bureaucracy of the regime. The problem is that orthodox clerics lost the support of bureaucrats. So they turned to the Guards as a way to control the bureaucrats. But things moved on so much that today the IRGC and the supreme leader control the clerics. And this is precisely how the supreme leader had wanted, which is in fact a model similar to that of North Korea and China. It even finds Putin’s model and practices useful. What remains to be seen is how the public is going to accept this form of control by the IRGC. How will Rouhani’s administration (as the bureaucracy) respond to this? More importantly, what will Rafsanjani and his supporters and allies do with this model of IRGC control over the regime in the name of protecting it? There are signs that even the clergy is not comfortable with this model. The IRGC acts like a totalitarian political/military/economic/cultural party which recognizes only the ruling supreme leader and not the clerics as a group (such as for a leadership council), while rejecting any role for the bureaucrats (i.e., the administration). But this monopolistic and totalitarian view is challenged and the upcoming elections in February can either strengthen IRGC’s position or face a stronger challenge. Regardless of that, what is clear is that the clergy are under the siege of the Guards who control the supreme leader while the leader remains not in line with the clergy.]]>
opinion Fri, 25 Dec 2015 08:51:00 +0000
Revolutionary Guards and Leadership Council http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/23/article/revolutionary-guards-and-leadership-council.html The protests that Iran’s hardliners, conservative ideologues and even the minister of intelligence of Hassan Rouhani’s administration have launched over talk about a council to replace the supreme leader is based on changes that have gradually been imposed in recent years. Ali-Asqar Ramezanpour

The protests that Iran’s hardliners, conservative ideologues and even the minister of intelligence of Hassan Rouhani’s administration have launched over talk about a council to replace the supreme leader is based on changes that have gradually been imposed in recent years. Over the years, step by step measures through changes in laws, the constitution and interpretations of it have contained and restricted elected offices and legal oversight over rulers, especially the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). The continuation of this process the negation of the possibility of creating a council as the highest authority of the state, rather than a single individual in the name of a supreme leader, should be seen as a violation of the constitution. Even ayatollah Khamenei (as retold by Ahmad Khatami) had at one time spoken against a single supreme leader. As arrangements stand today, the supreme leader has to be acceptable to the IRGC. Because of this, it cannot be just an observer on electing the next leader and allow those members of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership - an elected body of 86 clerics - who have till today not had any political authority or importance, decide such a critical office. Even during the time when Khamenei was discussed as the new supreme leader, powerful individuals at the time, led by Hashemi Rafsanjani who enjoyed the support of the IRGC, set aside the proposal to have a leadership council and after quoting Mr. Khomeini, proposed Khamenei’s name as the next supreme leader. So if members of the Assembly in 1989 lacked the credibility and force to prevent someone who did not have the qualifications to become the next leader, how does one expect them today, under current conditions, prevent an IRGC-supported individual from becoming the next supreme leader? Mr Rafsanjani is right in saying that the constitution provides for supervision over the supreme leader and also for a leadership council. Article 111 of the constitution of the Islamic republic provides for the establishment of a temporary Leadership Council (without a term limit) to be comprised of the president, the head of the judiciary, and a senior cleric from the Guardian Council selected by the Expediency Council. The constitution specifically allows for the country to be run by this country. The exact language of article 111 negates what the head of the judiciary recent said to the effect that the constitution does not provide for any supervision over the supreme leader. The Leadership Council also has the right to appoint the top commanders of the armed forces. Regarding the election of the commander of the IRGC, the Council must also get the consent of two thirds of the State Expediency Council. It is clear from these provisions that the constitution has specific provisions for the country to be run indefinitely through a leadership council rather than a single supreme leader should a supreme leader not be in a position to carry out his duties. So when the constitution makes such specific references to a leadership council, why then do some politicians deny this provision and call discussions about a leadership council to be another “sedition,” or plot to overthrow the regime? Such thoughts and words give rise to fears that perhaps some quarters are thinking of imposing a single person on the country should unfavorable changes take place (such as a new composition of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership). But can such a single person be anybody who does not enjoy the full support of the IRGC?]]>
opinion Wed, 23 Dec 2015 19:16:00 +0000
Average Age of Inmates Has Dropped http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/22/article/average-age-of-inmates-has-dropped.html The head of Iran’s prison organization told reporters that the average age of criminals in the country has fallen and younger people are now ending up in prisons. Jalal Yaghoubi

The head of Iran’s prison organization told reporters that the average age of criminals in the country has fallen and younger people are now ending up in prisons. As reported by Iran’s ILNA labor news agency, Asqar Jahangiri told reporters, “In the past, the average of age of criminals was 37 years but now, studies show that it has dropped to close to age 30. We are trying to determine the effects of this because the average age of criminals is dropping.” He continued, “Our two important crimes are drugs and theft. We know that drugs are closely related to unemployment and the conditions at the country’s borders; while the majority of theft in the country are light theft which also take place because of economic conditions.” The unprecedented fall in the age of criminals in Iran can also be an indication of the social disintegration in the country. Late last year (month of Ordibehesht) Reza Mahboobi, the deputy director of the social affairs of the ministry of interior told IRNA official news agency that some 500,000 individuals end up in prisons annually. He added that this was higher than international standards, and said, “The families of prisons are the most unsupported social groups in the country and they are in the worst possible conditions where they receive the least amount of social support. This must be changed.” Mahboobi also said that women constituted less than 10 percent of the prison population of the country and said that a prisoner occupied about 8 square meters of prison space. The head of the prison organization, Jahangiri, on the other hand announced last year that the prison population of Iran was on the rise. Other news indicate that in recent years the age group of addicts and drug users in the country has also been dropping. Age groups of women engaged in prostitution have also been recently published. Nader Ghorbani, the director general of the office of social services in the province of Lorestan had announced last month (of Aban) that, “The drug problem had to be tackled through social means, not imposed programs. Education has a heavy role in preventing this because the age of addicts and drug users has dropped and this is a catastrophe.” Colonel Mohammad Mehdi Karimi, the deputy police commander of Rafsanjan had also recently said, “The age of drug addicts was always known, but now we have lost it because it has come down and this is a warning message.” Reports indicate that the average age of drug addicts has dropped to 14. In March of this year, published studies showed that drug use had even permeated into middle school students. Dana website reported at the time, “According to a national study, the risk of falling into drug use among middle and high-school students in 2011 had been determined and that it had changed from .5% in 2002 to 1% in 2011.” Earlier than that, Tohid Abdi, the deputy director for social and awareness issues in Iran’s police force had announced that social changes had resulted in that the age of addiction and prostitution had dropped to about 13. Late last year news reports indicated that senior cleric ayatollah Javadi Amoli had told a government official that, “Family, marriage among youth, the dangers of later marriages and the fall in the age of prostitution were among the problems society was currently facing which needed to be addressed.” But merely expressing concern about these issues does not solve them. The director general of the welfare organization had announced a few years ago that the age when girls deserted their parents’ home was between 9 and 17 years. The head of the sociology association of Iran had also announced in 2011 that the age of prostitution had fallen by 8 to 10 years, i.e., from the age of 20-30 to 12-18. ]]>
report Tue, 22 Dec 2015 17:04:00 +0000
There Can Be No Oversight of Khamenei http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/19/article/there-can-be-no-oversight-of-khamenei.html In his latest public remarks, the head of Iran’s judiciary branch of government Sadegh Larijani said that the constitution did not provide any oversight over the supreme leader. Jalal Yaghoubi

In his latest public remarks, the head of Iran’s judiciary branch of government Sadegh Larijani said that the constitution did not provide any oversight over the supreme leader. Mizan news agency affiliated with the judiciary reported that Larijani was speaking at a meeting of senior judiciary officials when he said, “Sometimes the news media promote ideas that are not correct. Among these are the unfounded remarks about Assembly of Experts on Leadership’s supervision of the work of the supreme leader and the agency under his control.” He then asserted, “Some individuals present their dreams and expectations that have nothing to do with the constitution,” which he characterized as “incorrect and unlawful.” He continued, “The constitution does not provide anything about supervision or monitoring of the supreme leader” and added, “According to the constitution the determination of who had the qualities to be the supreme leader was with the Assembly of Experts. But it is clear that determination is different from monitoring.” It appears that these remarks by Larijani are a response to what veteran politician and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani had said a few days earlier that a special committee of the Experts Assembly was investigating who had the conditions for leadership which it would announce to the supreme leader, adding that if it was necessary, the report would also go to the Assembly itself. He also spoke about the agencies under the control of the supreme leader and said, “I have said at the Assembly that we must inform the leader of any faults that the agencies under his control so that these can be addressed while at the same time encourage their positive aspects.” Larijani’s comments, however, were also responded to. This time ayatollah Mohammad Momen Ghomi who is a member of the Guardian Council and of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership said, “The reality is that the responsibility of the Assembly of Experts is the selection of the supreme leader and his introduction to the public. After the selection, the Assembly must monitor the leader because the basis of this system depends on him. The responsibility in this country ranging from the presidency, the judiciary, the Majlis, the armed forces, and the national radio and television network all depend on the supreme leader.” He specifically reiterated that the Assembly of Experts on Leadership had the duty of monitoring the work of the supreme leader. What Larijani has said is exactly what the supporters of Khamenei have been saying for years. A former head of the Assembly of Experts Mahdavi Kani had also once said that supervision over Khamenei was in fact a way to protect him. He had clarified his view by adding, “This is to prevent wrong things happening in the country, or attacks taking place on him (supreme leader). We need to protect him. I have said at the Assembly that we need to protect the position of the leader.” Last year too another senior cleric ayatollah seyed Ahmad Elm Alhoda had taken a different view and had publicly said that members of the Assembly could not monitor the work of the supreme leader. Observers have noted that most of those who had advocated the view that the supreme leader needed to be monitored have been removed from their official posts. They have been gradually replaced by those who believe that Khamenei’s actions cannot and should not be monitored. This is ironic because Khamenei himself has at times publicly said that his work needs to be monitored, while behind the scenes a different view persists and dominates. Khamenei had once said in 2001, “Nobody is above supervision. Even the supreme leader. Let alone agencies under his control. So all must be supervised. This is because anybody in power of high office by nature has power and wealth. In other words they hold public wealth and social and political authority. This is to prevent misuse and so that they don’t overstep. Later, as his views changed, the voices of those advocating non-supervision of the work of the supreme leader have become more prominent and have appeared in the media. ]]>
report Sat, 19 Dec 2015 10:07:00 +0000
Society Has the Capacity to Accept Women Managers http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/17/article/society-has-the-capacity-to-accept-women-managers.html The recent news that various countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia have gained fair access to power is gratifying. But along with this news, reports that eight women district governors in the province of Khuzestan were suspended is troubling. Fateme Rakei

The recent news that various countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia have gained fair access to power is gratifying. But along with this news, reports that eight women district governors in the province of Khuzestan were suspended is troubling. We should understand that today Iranian women are at the highest levels of political, social and professional awareness. In addition, the Iranian nation today is wise and thoughtful and responds positively in the field of women’s rights. Because of these, Iranian society has all the necessary potentials to become a regional and global model for women to take on political and social responsibilities and share power. Iranian women should not and cannot be deprived of their basic rights. What should also be mentioned is what Islam says about women’s participation in various social fields. The Quran and the instructions of the Prophet about protecting the dignity of women and in some cases even giving them an advantage because of their feminine and motherly potential need to be taken into account. Scholars and religious leaders have repeatedly talked about this. Ayatollah Khomeini’s messages about dynamic and modern Islamic principles should also be heeded. Some good actions have taken place regarding this, which deserve recognition. Fortunately the constitution of the Islamic republic and other laws mention women’s laws and measures within law are supported. In addition, President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly spoken about the need for women’s participation in decision-making and management positions and practical measures have been taken in this regard. But despite these, there is resistance against women attaining equal rights in politics. This is happening while Iranian society and especially women are ready and have the necessary capacity to take political and social posts in legal, religious and Islamic areas. In fact it should be said that this resistance is not fundamental because Islam, Shii principles and laws of the country are supportive. Continuous progress is not possible unless specialists and women who constitute 50 percent of the nation are utilized. For the last 30 years under the protection of the Islamic revolution, Iranian women have strived for continuous progress and making Iran a model for the countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia. Resistance against them should not place them in a position that is inferior to those for whom they have been a role model.]]>
opinion Thu, 17 Dec 2015 09:56:00 +0000
Rafsanjani Talks of “Committee to Elect Leader” http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/14/article/rafsanjani-talks-of-committee-to-elect-leader.html The head of Iran’s State Expediency Council Ali Akbar Rafsanjani told Iran’s ILNA labor news agency that a committee had been set up in the Assembly of Experts on Leadership to examine individuals who had the qualifications to become the next leader of the Islamic republic of Iran. Arash Bahmani

The head of Iran’s State Expediency Council (that arbitrates differences among the three branches of government) Ali Akbar Rafsanjani told Iran’s ILNA labor news agency that a committee had been set up in the Assembly of Experts on Leadership to examine individuals who had the qualifications to become the next leader of the Islamic republic of Iran so that if “events” took place its members could vote for the next leader. Rafsanjani who was at one time the leader of the Leadership Council also said, “Whenever it was necessary to change the leader or that somebody else had to step in, a major work had to be done. He also once again spoke of the possibility of a leadership council, rather than a single leader, and used the deliberations in 1989 that made ayatollah Khamenei the leader to remind his readers of that possibility. Rafsanjani’s remarks come just a few days after Hassan Khamenei, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic republic ayatollah Khomeini, announced his candidacy for the elections for the leaders of the Leadership Council. True to form, this announcement was not pleasing to the conservative hardliners because of the close relationship Hassan enjoys with reformers and Rafsanjani. Elections for the fifth Leadership Council (officially known as the Assembly of Experts on Leadership), including its leaders, are scheduled for February 26th, 2016, which coincides with elections for the parliament as well. The leadership council has 86 members and elections for it are held once every eight years. According to article 107 of the constitution the Assembly of Experts is responsible for identifying the supreme leader of the Islamic republic and according to article 111 it can remove him for specified reasons. Supervision of state agencies that are under the direct control of the supreme leader are also part of the responsibilities of this assembly, something that ayatollah Khamenei has partly opposed in the past. A number of members of the Leadership Council, such as Dori Najafabadi and Movahedi Kermani, have recently spoken about the need for the assembly to be thinking about the next leader of the Islamic republic. Another senior cleric, Ahmad Khatami also has echoed these concerns and has said that some were more sensitive about the issue than others and added, “He is now 74 years old and in the next eight years will be 82 and so many have been thinking that the next Assembly of Experts on Leadership may have the responsibility of choosing the next supreme leader.” Ahmad Janati, the head of the powerful Guardian Council that vets all national candidates, has also stepped into this debate and had earlier said that the Guardian Council had to play a very important role in this. He also warned that there were individuals who wanted to infiltrate the Experts Assembly to influence its vote on the next leader.]]>
report Mon, 14 Dec 2015 08:02:00 +0000
Greetings for Mehdi Karoubi from Rouhani http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/10/article/greetings-for-mehdi-karoubi-from-rouhani.html The news announcement that Mehdi Karoubi – a leader in the protests against the 2009 presidential elections that reinstated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidency who has been under house arrest since 2011 – has once again brought his case to the forefront of the political discussions in Iran. Arash Bahmani

The news announcement that Mehdi Karoubi – a leader in the protests against the 2009 presidential elections that reinstated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidency who has been under house arrest since 2011 – has once again brought his case to the forefront of the political discussions in Iran. The government spokesperson recently spoke of efforts by Rouhani’s administration to lift the house arrest for Karoubi, while the president’s brother visited the ailing cleric who also conveyed the greetings of the president to him. The media also reported that cabinet ministers of Islamic guidance and that of health both visited Karoubi. Fatemeh Karoubi, Mehdi Karoubi’s wife told Saham News that the cause of the accident that her husband suffered was the temporary lift installed in their residence. According to her, the accident had cause the fractures in his left knee and the bones of his left leg. She further said that after the accident, “the security forces inside the house” made their efforts, and added that an ambulance had taken Mr. Karoubi to the hospital where into which he was admitted and that Dr. Hashemi, the minister of health’s presence helped the situation. This is the sixth time that Karoubi has undergone surgery. As reported in the media, he has undergone heart, eye, back, knee and prostate surgery in recent years. Speaking to reporters Fatemeh Karoubi has further said, the lift that had been installed in their house was to help him with the difficulties that had emerged in the last three years of his house arrest. She specifically said that he had been deprived of access to fresh air during this period. Speaking to Saham News she said that because of the surgery that her husband had a year ago on his knee and back, he hardly was able to use the foyer in the house, which was the reason for installing the temporary lift in the house. The website of Etemad Melli (National Unity) party which is led by Mehdi Karoubi wrote that after the surgery President Hassan Rouhani’s brother visited Karoubi and passed the greetings of the president to him. Some media outlets wrote that minister of culture Ali Janati also paid a visit to Karoubi, as did the minister of health Hassan Hashemi. During a news conference, in response to questions about the government’s measures to lift the house arrests, the spokesperson of Rouhani’s administration Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said that the government will take the necessary effective measures in this regard and would inform the public. “I stress that the president had not retreated from his promises,” he said reminding his supporters of the pledge that he made during his presidential campaign more than two years ago. Rouhani himself had made some comments about the house arrests when he said, “Some issues are not in the hands of the government but conditions can be set for them,” adding that he has already undertaken some actions and would inform the public at the right time. He had clarified that the issue was pursued at the National Security Council sessions where in addition to the heads of the three branches of government security and military agencies were also represented and present and that a decision on this was a security political one. “This is clearly an issue beyond any single branch of the government.” Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard were arrested in February of 2011 after they invited the public to demonstrate in support of the Arab Spring demonstrations in regional countries. Earlier this Persian year (which starts on March 21st), Karoubi’s son had publicly said that his father had not made any requests about the house arrest “but I am surprised that why is Mr. Rouhani, as the head of the national security council, so unresponsive about the house arrests. Karoubi’s wife too had lamented that lifting the sanctions was not a priority for the current administration. Last year during a meeting with the Shahed parliamentary faction in the Majlis, ayatollah Khamenei had asserted, in response to a question about the house arrests by Ali Motahari’s question, a hardline representative in parliament, that these leaders had been treated leniently and that if ayatollah Khomeini had been alive, he would have been much harsher with them. He also said that if these individuals were tried, the sentences they would receive would be very harsh.]]>
report Thu, 10 Dec 2015 06:22:00 +0000
The Regime is the Loser in the Policies on Woman! http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/10/article/the-regime-is-the-loser-in-the-policies-on-woman.html The loser in the policies on women in Iran is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Let’s assume that the Islamic republic has become a superpower and has passed all other world powers and let’s imagine that it has become the powerhouse of the region, it is still the loser in its policies on women. Mehrangis Kar

The loser in the policies on women in Iran is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Let’s assume that the Islamic republic has become a superpower and has passed all other world powers and let’s imagine that it has become the powerhouse of the region, it is still the loser in its policies on women. A cursory look at the social history of Iran shows that there were no women in the traditional wrestling sport, they were not spectators let alone wrestlers in the middle of the ring. In the culture of those times, women were the weaklings that needed assistance to survive. They should not be touched by “outsiders.” While a women was respected, her presence was not desirable anywhere and the wrestling manhood code of the time was not in line with her. Nowadays, that culture has modernized itself so much that the Wrestling Federation of Iran decides to invite Tehran’s symphony orchestra to play at the conclusion ceremony of the world wrestling league. The orchestra however has women players amid itself. The necessary permit for the event was issued and obtained, according to the deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance as is reflected in the Moosighie Ma (Our Music) website which also writes that the orchestra would play the national anthem. The ministry of sports and youth also was fully aware of this program. Suddenly, however, it was announced that women could not be on stage at the stadium. So all the practices, expenses, hopes and expectations, and Iran’s standing in the world, was thrown away. But this is an image that the Islamic regime is not interested when it comes to culture and human rights. Everybody more or less has heard of the many cancelled orchestra performances across Iran. What is new in this case is that the regime has fallen behind even the most traditional social strata, which is none other than the lovers of the traditional sports, the zoorkhaneh and the culture of pahlavan (loosely translated as champion or hero). [Pahlavan in person means a champion who is also just and kind, a people’s hero.) Traditional culture has undergone a change in the various social strata. Ethics and morals are now defined differently than they used to be. If there is extremism in some sectors of society and creates concern, the roots of this lie elsewhere. In places where tradition has ruled and widowed women received the most financial and spiritual attention, the peculiarities of culture have consciously changed along with times and needs of the day. Inviting the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, which includes women musicians, to perform and play the country’s national anthem for the foreign audience, is an indication of the naturals changes that have taken place in traditional culture which the regime does not want to acknowledge. Linking the crisis of orchestra cancelations to Hassan Rouhani’s accent to the presidency is simplifying the issue, even though such acts do harm drives to moderation. If the policies of the state were not based on the remnants of disappearing traditional values they could not have used the issue in their factional power battles and rivalries. The traditionalists in Iranian society are gradually but steadily pushing the inconsistent elements of traditional culture to the edge, despite state efforts to the contrary. And the state hates it. What I am really saying is that today nothing is in its traditional state. On one hand the Zoorkhaneh culture has transformed itself and now can call for a modern orchestra to play or the world at an international event so they see its national, cultural and artistic elements while on the other, the regime, whose main key elements are hidden but shows up every time a powerful woman confidently rises to an occasion to stop her. It first issues a directive and then stops the event. This gap between the regime and its most traditional elements speaks of a regime which in the last 36 years has been making policy to eliminate women, has not succeeded and in addition has lost its money, energy and international repute. Till today, nobody knows which specific agency has issued this order and has prevented the orchestra from performing. With every passing day, the hope that the intellectuals of this country will be able to bring the nature of this regime in line with themselves fades. But this is not an indication of success for the regime in its cultural policies. The underground artistic life and the apparent cultural life of the type that is going on in the wrestling federation and the symphony orchestra are battling and are indicative of the battle. IN all the cultural situations where the regime and people face each other, the element of “being a woman” is a source for an eternal battle. It appears that the nature of this regime is not just at odds with women or art for art’s sake, but it is in battle with nature itself. A loosing regime is more dangerous than a winning one. The drive of the regime to prove an unnatural and uncalculated interpretation of modern cultural and artistic issues expands its fears by the moment.]]>
opinion Thu, 10 Dec 2015 06:10:00 +0000
Khamenei’s Letter to Western Youth http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/03/article/khameneis-letter-to-western-youth.html For the second consecutive year, Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei has sent a letter to the youth in the West. Ali-Asqar Ramezanpour

For the second consecutive year, Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei has sent a letter to the youth in the West. The first such letter was sent last year in the month of Bahman (January 21 to February 18, after the terrorist attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. This second letter comes two weeks after another terrorist attack on a number of restaurants and a concert venue in Paris which was claimed to have been carried out by the self-proclaimed Islamic State or DAESH. Both of Khamenei’s letters lack any message to domestic readers or any explanation of Khamenei’s views on issues of interest to Iranians or the media. In his latest letter, Mr Khamenei asks Western youth to change the “violence breeding mentality” of their rulers and stand against violence. The leader of the Islamic republic writes that Western culture is made up of two elements, “aggression” and “moral promiscuity” and adds that it promotes “soft and silent invasion.” He calls DAESH (or the self-proclaimed Islamic State) “garbage” and adds that the problem is not ideological but a response to colonialism with an extremist and rejected ideology, within a primitive tribe which has implanted the roots of extremism in this region. Both of these letters come at a time when ISIS attacks in Europe have created serious concerns in the world about extremist ideologies emanating from the Middle East. In both letters Mr Khamenei strives to show that DAESH does not represent Islam and in both letters he tries to present himself and the Islamic republic of Iran to be the rightful representation of Islam. But the question is why is Mr Khamenei writing to separate himself from DAESH? And why is he explaining this the youth in Europe? It is clear that there are many similarities between Khamenei’s views - especially among his hardline supporters – and those of DAESH about the West and animosity towards the West. This forces him to present himself to be different from ISIS. Rather than viewing Western culture as a valuable part of mankind’s culture that has many different dimensions, Mr Khamenei, just like DAESH, views the West as a corrupt and immoral place. And also like DAESH, he views Western policies on women’s freedoms equality of laws between the genders to be policies against Islam and the roots of the destruction of the world. He is in line with DAESH on the view that it is necessary to bring Western powers to their knees through the expansion of Islam around the world. And also like DAESH, Mr Khamenei pursues the policy of winning the support of fundamental Muslims in the battle against the West. The record of the Islamic republic in using terrorism and violent attacks against Western influence indicates that both of these entities – the Islamic republic and DAESH – have no qualms in using violence. Both are against the social participation of women, music, freedom of attire, drinking and eating. And they both view themselves to have the right to interfere in every aspect of life and both see themselves to be the representative of God on earth. So it is understandable why Mr Khamenei is concerned that he and DAESH would be viewed in the same light across the world. So in one sense both of Mr Khamenei’s letters are written in competition with DAESH. He concerned that among fundamentalists and pro-violence groups, the actions of DAESH will be lionized and will strengthen its position among that part of the world population. And so because of this, the massive propaganda machinery of the Islamic republic is mobilized to keep the Islamic republic in the limelight in those regions where fundamentalist views prevail and as a way to compete with DAESH. But why the Western youth? Just a day before Khamenei’s letter, a planned event for the Tehran Symphony Orchestra in which the national anthem of the Islamic republic was scheduled to be played, was cancelled because it had women musicians. Such blatant violent actions against people which include executions, imprisonment, knife stabbing and political imprisonment, have become such a daily event in Iran that there is no room for listening to Mr Khamenei’s messages about Islamic benevolence or confronting silent aggression of the West. In Iran’s media world, there is even no room for any media for the youth and pop singers bear the security pressures of the IRGC and the ministry of Islamic guidance and send their music outside Iran for airing so that Iranian youth can hear them from foreign sources. It is much easier for Mr Khamenei to speak to foreign youth who cannot have a picture of the Islamic republic other than what he presents to them. In contrast, Iranian youth see Mr Khamenei’s true messages every day. The civil and cultural restrictions that Mr Khamenei has created for Iranian youth block any exchange of letters between him and them.]]>
opinion Thu, 03 Dec 2015 10:56:00 +0000
Rafsanjani Officially in Race for the Leadership Council http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/december/01/article/rafsanjani-officially-in-race-for-the-leadership-council.html About three months before the elections for the Experts Assembly on Leadership which constitutionally reviews the work of Iran’s top leader, veteran politician Hashemi Rafsanjani who led the Assembly in the past, has announced that he will be a candidate for the 86-member body in February. Shirin Karimi

About three months before the elections for the Experts Assembly on Leadership which constitutionally reviews the work of Iran’s top leader, veteran politician Hashemi Rafsanjani who led the Assembly in the past, has announced that he will be a candidate for the 86-member body in February. This is the second time in recent months that Rafsanjani announces his desire to run. Earlier in February, Rafsanjani characterized the February 2016 Majlis and Leadership council elections to be “one of the most decisive elections in the history of the Islamic republic” and added, “The elections must be held in a manner that strengthen the trust of people and society for creating another political epic and I too will, God desiring, join as well.” The words “another political epic” are a reference to the unexpected victory of Hassan Rouhani in the 2013 presidential elections. Rafsanjani’s reiteration that he will run in the Leadership council race is significant because in the past few elections (ninth for the president, eleventh for the president and the last Leadership Council elections), he did not announce his clear-cut run vs no-run decision until very close to the election day. Iran’s hardliners (commonly known as Principlists) accuse Rafsanjani and associates of Rouhani of getting close to the moderates for the purpose of getting their candidates into the Leadership council. This issue has turned the possible entry of ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson – seyed Hassan Khomeini – into the race into a controversy as well. For months now, hardliners in Iran have been issuing warnings about the February elections and the possible changes they could bring to the composition of the Majlis and the Leadership council. For example, Ahmad Khatami, the current temporary Friday prayer leader of Tehran and a deputy Speaker of the Majlis had said that some people were busy trying to “change the current mix of the Majlis” and that they were after a “strong faction.” He added that in some quarters the talk had been that while this group could not gain the majority in the Majlis, it could form a strong faction. He then revealed that while concern for the mix of the Majlis and the Leadership council had always existed, “it must more serious this time.” The fifth elections for the Experts Assembly on Leadership and the next Majlis elections will take place in Iran on February 26, 2016. Official registration will begin on December 17 this year. Some of the leaders of the hardliners such as Dori Najafabadi and Movahedi Kermani both members of the Leadership council, have also indicated their concerns regarding the next leader of Iran. They have publicly said that the Leadership council had to be seriously thinking about the next leader as this next session may have to elect a new leader. “Ayatollah Khamenei is currently 74 years old and will be 82 in the next 8 years and some are thinking that the next Leadership council may have to decide on the next leader,” they have said. Khamenei is currently 75 years and his hospitalization earlier this year has prompted talk about his successor. Ahmad Janati, the secretary of the Guardian Council – another critical state agency – has said that the next elections for the Leadership council are “very important” because some groups were planning to take over its control, calling on his supporters to be “alert and wise” in their actions in this regard. The Leadership council has 86 members and elections for it are held every eight years. Article 107 of the constitution gives this body the responsibility of choosing the supreme leader of the country. The organizations under the control of the supreme leader also fall under the purview of Leadership council. ]]>
report Tue, 01 Dec 2015 09:18:00 +0000
Surviving Family Members Call for Public Support http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/20/article/surviving-family-members-call-for-public-support.html Seventeen years after the assassination of a large group of prominent Iranians by members of the state security apparatus, surviving family members have called for the public to remain in sympathy with them. Fereshteh Ghazi

Seventeen years after the assassination of a large group of prominent Iranians by members of the state security apparatus, surviving family members have called for the public to remain in sympathy with them. Family members of Parvaneh and Darioosh Foruhar, Piruz Davani, Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad-Jaafar Pooyandeh, and Hamid and Karoon Hajizadeh issued a statement that says there was “no judiciary examination of the murders or if there was, it was derailed.” What followed the murders, the statement reads, was “cover-ups, corruption, threats and crackdown. Our efforts, those of our attorneys and all others who came along did not result in anything. These disruptive and derailing events added to the injustice and pain that we had already suffered.” The surviving members wrote that 17 years ago their loved ones were kidnapped after secret sentences, the houses of some were violated and ultimately they were murdered in a hideous manner. “The political assassinations of 1998 created a deep wound in the social spirit and created a publish backlash and protest. This forced state authorities to respond and reveal the state-organized violence against dissidents. They pressed for judicial examination and called for justice. But all their efforts hit a wall made up of distortion and crackdown by state agencies and ultimately attained nothing,” the statement reads. The media in Iran gave these assassinations and murders of dissidents the name of serial murders which were committed by agents from Iran’s ministry of intelligence. The news of Darioosh and Parvaneh Foruhar’s murders (the leaders of the Iranian Nation’s Party), Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jaafar Pooyandeh who writers and members of Iran’s writers guild were published as Mohammad Khatami was in his second year of presidency. But the physical elimination of dissidents and thinkers in the Islamic republic of Iran by the security services of the country had begun years before 1998. Ultimately, state authorities accepted responsibility for the murder of only four individuals and even then they tried to contain the murders in the cases of the Foruhars, Mokhtari and Pooyandeh and blame “rogue” elements within the ministry for the murders. The murder of Mohammad Sharif, author, translator, and a member of the center that published Dr Shariati’s works took place as he disappeared on November 30, 1998 and then his body was found 7 days later at the coroner’s office. Pirooz Davani was killed on August 25 of 1998 and his body was never found. Because of this, his case was not included in the murders examined by the Islamic republic. In Iran, journalists and the public view Sharif Davani, Ahmad Amir Alai, Ghafar Hosseini, Hossein Barazandeh, Ibrahim Zalzadeh, Kazem Sami, Ahmad Tafazoli, Manoutchehr Sanei, Hamid Hajizadeh and his ten-year old son Karoon, Kazem Sami, Haik Hoosepianmehr, Fereidoon Farokhzad and Massomeh Mosadegh – the grand daughter of former prime minister Mossadegh – and tens of other thinkers and political critics as the victims of the serial murders but the regime of the Islamic republic has not accepted any responsibility for these murders. It was only after the heightened public outcry that the ministry of intelligence was forced to accept responsibility for the deaths of the Foruhars, Mokhtari and Pooyandeh. After the partial exposes, the then minister of intelligence Dori Najafabadi resigned and a number of senior agents from the ministry of intelligence were arrested. They included Saeed Imami, who was then the advisor and deputy minister of intelligence, along with Akbar Khoshkoosh who was the head of the swat team. Not only did the state not take any responsibility in the murders, but any person who exposed the killings was himself prosecuted. The initial suspects in the case were ultimately either released, padrones, or freed from prison. The judiciary department of the armed forces announced that one of the ring leaders of the murders, Saeed Imami, had committed suicide in prison, something that public opinion or political and media circles in the country never accepted. They believe he too was murdered as a damage control effort by agents of the state to prevent more exposes of the top leaders of the murderers. Subsequently, attorneys for the Foruhars revealed that the washing powder that was claimed to have been used by Imami to commit suicide never contained arsenic material to have killed Imami. Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi also announced that it was not possible for Imami to have killed himself using washing powder. The judiciary agency of Iran’s military named Saeed Imami, Khosrow Barati, Mehrdad Alikhani and Mostafa Kazemi as the main perpetrators of the murders. They were tried in camera and Mousavi and Alikhani were sentenced to 4 counts of murder for killing Mokhtari and Pooyande. Mousavi and Jaafarzade and Mohseni were sentenced to 26 slashes and 25 slashes for striking Darioosh and Parvaneh Foruhar with knives. Hamid Rasooli, Majid Azizi and Morteza Falah were sentenced as conspirators to life imprisonment. Abolfazl Moslemi, Mohammad Asnaashar, Ali Safaipoor, Mostafa Hashemi and Ali Nazeri also reached prison sentences of 8, 7, 7, 8 and 2.5 years respectively.  Asqar Saya and Khosro Barati got 6-year and 10-year prison sentences while Iraj Amoozegar, Morteza Haghani and Alireza Akbarian were dismissed. The remaining detained suspects were released and the top officials who ordered the killings were never tried. But those who exposed the murders were charged and imprisoned. Naser Zarafshan who was the defense attorney for the families of the murdered individuals went to jail in 2001 for “revealing state secrets, possessing alcoholic drinks and possession of firearms.” After he was released from prison, he said he did not change his mind about the murders and added, “The serial murders had many secrets and I had not even said much about them. They wanted to silence me anyway.” Hamid Kaviani, the editor of Khordad and Hambastegi newspapers who followed the murders disappeared for a while and then ended up in the psychology ward of Imam Khomeini hospital. He wrote the book, “In Search of the Home of the Criminals” which was later banned. Emadedin Baghi, who along with Akbar Ganji played a prominent role in exposing the murders had several suits against them by the state and both ended up in jail. He wrote, “The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran” on the subject of the serial murders. The permit to reprint the book was suspended after its sixth publication. Ganji wrote “Tarikkhaneh Ashbah” and “Alijenab Sorkhpoosh” and was arrested and spent 6 years in prison. In his exposes, he named senior Iranian authorities responsible for the murders. Shirin Ebadi too who defended the family members of the victims too was sentenced. Salam, Khordad and Sobh Emrouz newspaper which played a key role in exposing the murders were all shut. Saeed Hajarian, the editor of Salam and Abdollah Nouri, the editor of Khordad were also both sentenced to prison terms. Hajjarian was the victim of an assassination attempt himself and till today continues to suffer from the bullet wounds he suffered. But he was again arrested in the aftermath of the rigged 2009 presidential elections and spent 106 days in prison. Abdollah Nouri accused the minister of intelligence, Dori Najafabadi, to have had a hand in the murders by issuing their death sentences, or fatwas. Being a cleric, Nouri was tried in the clerical court and went to prison for his exposes. But the perpetrators of the murders even got government promotions. Roohollah Hosseinian and Hossein Shariatmadari are among these. Hosseinian is a Majlis member who officially defended Saeed Imami for his murders because the victims according to him were “strong supporters of the president.” He said those who were killed were opponents of the regime. Shariatmadari was appointed directly by ayatollah Khamenei to head the Kayhan group of newspapers. While Ali Falahian, Poormohammadi, Dori Najafabadi, Mohseni Ejei and others are listed as the definitive top perpetrators of these murders, none of them have been tried or even charged. They too got promotions in their government jobs. Falahian and Najafabadi went to become Majlis representatives. Poormohammadi and Ejei also go promoted, the first became the minister of interior and the second the attorney general in Rouhani’s administration. ]]>
report Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:54:00 +0000
Rouhani Orders Halt of Mixed Gender Camps http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/20/article/rouhani-orders-halt-of-mixed-gender-camps.html Just a week after Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei publicly complained about what he termed as “mixed gender youth camps,” president Hassan Rouhani responded by stopping such camps at the country’s universities. Shirin Karimi

Just a week after Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei publicly complained about what he termed as “mixed gender youth camps,” president Hassan Rouhani responded by stopping such camps at the country’s universities. Mohammad-Reza Dezfooli, the secretary of the supreme council for Iran’s cultural revolution announced that Rouhani had asked that Khamenei’s remarks about mixed camps be followed up and such events prevented from taking place. Last week, speaking about cultural issues, Khamenei had said, “Some have mistaken cultural activities with concerts and mixed gender camps and justify these acts by saying students must be happy,” and added that while it was good to be happy but then asked “At what cost? At the cost of holding mixed camps? What has the West gained from mixing genders other than current crimes that we should follow the same ways?” A few months earlier too Khamenei had publicly objected to “mixed (gender) camps and music concerts” at universities adding that those who planned such activities “without doubt committed “treason to student environs and even future generations.” Years earlier too, during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, Khamenei had aired the same complaint, then directly to the minister of science Mostafa Moin. During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency too, Khamenei had made similar remarks and universities had announced that students who participated in mixed camps would be barred from attending their classes for a semester. While cultural issues, which are defined in Iran loosely to include what women wear to any mixed events, appear to have been the concern of some Iranian authorities, there are other quarters that deny such events. Social network users for example responded to Khamenei’s recent remarks to deny mixed camps at universities, with many saying they had never heard of such events while attending their universities. Khamenei has regularly mentioned problems with cultural issues at universities and in society in general and has called on government officials to take corrective action, essentially Islamizing society. Last year when the issue of unlawful scholarships to state officials became a hot political issue, even causing the impeachment of Rouhani’s science minister (who oversees the activities of all institutions of higher education), Khamenei criticized the government’s public exposure of this issue calling it “one of the worst actions in the last two years.”]]>
report Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:53:00 +0000
How Far Will the IRGC Go in its Arrests? http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/18/article/how-far-will-the-irgc-go-in-its-arrests.html The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps have been busy in recent weeks arresting Iranian journalists, resulting in protests that have included those of president Rouhani as well. Fereshteh Ghazi

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps have been busy in recent weeks arresting Iranian journalists, resulting in protests that have included those of president Rouhani as well. Majlis member Ali Motahari - the son of the ideological founder of the Islamic revolution who was assassinated in its early years – has called the recent arrests of journalists by the IRGC as unlawful. He is said the force has no jurisdiction over journalists. “The ministry of intelligence and the attorney general have not acted on the issue but the president had the duty to intervene,” he told Iran newspaper (the official government mouthpiece). Motahari made these remarks as one of his Majlis colleagues, Nasrollah Pejman – who belongs to the hardline and conservative Jebhe Paydari Front – was gathering signatures against president Hassan Rouhani. According to him, over 100 MPs had signed a petition criticizing the president’s remarks during Tehran’s recent media exhibition. At that event, Rouhani had said, “People understand the meaning of infiltration, arrogance (reference to America) and national interests very well and feel for the future of the country. Stop going here and there to find an individual or two to find excuses and create fake law suits for them and then aggrandize them to the national level, and ultimately claim that this is the line of infiltration. Fight infiltration in the real way. Playing with words is to the detriment of the country and its national solidarity.” Warnings about Western infiltration in Iran is a theme that was recently launched by ayatollah Khamenei. Motahari echoed Rouhani’s words in support and said, “Infiltration can take place in any state agency. It is not right for some to single out journalists and reformists and exaggerate this. In fact, the possibility of infiltration is greatest in those place where there is the greatest display of support for the regime. It is doubtful that a person who is a public critic would be an infiltrator. A person who wants to infiltrate will first create an attractive cover for himself.” In Tehran, four journalists have been arrested in the last two weeks: Isa Saharkhiz, Ehsan Mazandarani, Saman Safarzai and Afarin Chitsaz. After their arrest, the intelligence agency of the IRGC announced “The arrest of members of an infiltration network affiliated with American and British government by the IRGC intelligence agency” and claimed that the arrests were made after months of “continued surveillance and complete oversight of the activities of the network.” Following this, the top commander of the IRGC associated infiltration with the fourth sedition and warned against it, all of which came after ayatollah Khamenei had issued a warning against Western influence in Iranian affairs. Sedition is a term Iranian authorities regularly use for protestors who called the 2009 presidential elections to be fraudulent, which includes leaders and supporters of the Green Movement, and other critics of the regime’s policies and practices. The day after these arrests, channel 2 of Iran’s state-run national television network aired a program in which a person named Asef – labelled as a specialist in the intelligence agency of the IRGC – claimed that the group included “extremely destructive media activists belonging to foreign and domestic opposition media who operated in a layered fashion to create a domestic media network.” But IRGC’s recent arrests were not confined to journalists. According to Gerdab website which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, over 170 individuals had been arrested in the town of Ghazvin by the intelligence agency of the IRGC. The news site said the arrested individuals were members of a mobile social network. The report also claimed that these individuals had been engaged in indecent and vulgar media content and encouraged people to engage in indecent and immoral behavior, and published material that was insulting to ethnic groups and prominent national personalities.” The judiciary spokesperson denied this report and said no such arrests had been made in Ghazvin, but the IRGC did not deny the report which attributes the arrests to its intelligence agency. Mohseni Ejei – a top judiciary official - however did acknowledge that not all individuals arrested by the IRGC were journalists or media activists. The names of the non-journalist detainees have not been officially publicly announced. But the official news agency of the IRGC, Tasnim news agency, did announce the arrest of a number of individuals in the province of Gilan. These arrests by the IRGC remain in a cloud of secrecy and observers are uncertain about the extent to which they will continue and where they will lead to, especially as the IRGC has in the past embarked on various crackdown projects targeting journalists, bloggers, activists and even verbal critics of the regime. ]]>
report Wed, 18 Nov 2015 19:36:00 +0000
Rouhani Absent from State Expediency Council Sessions http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/18/article/rouhani-absent-from-state-expediency-council-sessions.html Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has been noticeably absent from the recent sessions of the State Expediency Council, an act of protest that right-wing media says was done once before as well. Arash Bahmani

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has been noticeably absent from the recent sessions of the State Expediency Council, an act of protest that right-wing media says was done once before as well. Farda news website – a site close to Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf who is Tehran’s right-wing mayor – wrote that Rouhani had refrained from participating in the State Expediency Council sessions in the last two months, citing the administration’s opposition to the six development plan of the country as the reason for his absence. According to Farda, Rouhani has argued that “Since it is his administration that has to implement the program, it needs to have a say in its content.” Rouhani’s aides and members of his administration have not responded to this report. The report in Farda says prior to this boycott, Rouhani had refrained from participating in the Council’s earlier sessions for three months as well. That refrain was over the removal of the governor of Iran’s Central Bank. According to the Iranian constitution, the Council has the duty of providing advice to the supreme leader regarding “the high level and general polices of the state, make recommendations for resolving state issues that are not resolved through normal channels, presentation of the state’s interests in cases where laws passed by the Majlis are rejected by the Guardian Council, etc. The Council also selects a clerical member of the Guardian Council for the Leadership Council. This of course is not the first time that a president has refrained from participating in the sessions of the State Expediency Council. Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also stopped going to the sessions for a few years, during his tenure. But after leaving office, he was appointed by Khamenei to the Council. According to law, there are two types of members in the Council: ex officio and those directly appointed by the supreme leader. The ex officio members are the president, head of the Majlis, the head of the Judiciary, and the six clerical members of the Guardian Council. The remaining 35 members of the State Expediency Council are directly appointed by the supreme leader. When Ahmadinejad stopped attending the Expediency Council sessions, it was reported it was done because of his differences with Hashemi Rafsanjani who at the time was the head of the body. Rouhani on the other hand has enjoyed good relations with Rafsanjani from the first days of the revolution and himself was the direct of the Expediency Council’s influential Center for Strategic Studies. The reason Rouhani may be staying away from the Expediency Council is that the majority members of the body are conservative hardliners known as Osoolgarayan (Principlists) who have been vocal in their opposition to a number of Rouhani’s programs and policies, including his approach towards the nuclear deal and relations with the United States. For the fifth session of the Expediency Council, ayatollah Khamenei had removed some of the controversial figures from the body, which included Mir-Hossein Mousavi (who remains under house arrest), Imami Kashani, Mohammad Reyshahri and Mohammad Hashemi (Rafsanjani’s brother) and replaced them with more conservative figures such as Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Mamhmoud Mohammadi Araghi, Mohammad Hossein Safar Herandi and Ahmad Vahidi. He also added Ahmadinejad to the body the day after Rouhani was sworn in as president. ]]>
report Wed, 18 Nov 2015 19:32:00 +0000
Bahais in Iran Are Perplexed about Shops Closures http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/17/article/bahais-in-iran-are-perplexed-about-shops-closures.html The spokesperson for the Bahai community in Iran told Rooz in an exclusive interview that at least 15 of the community members in Iran had been arrested on Sunday in various towns in Iran and the shops of some others had been shut and sealed by authorities. Kaveh Ghoreishi

The spokesperson for the Bahai community in Iran told Rooz in an exclusive interview that at least 15 of the community members in Iran had been arrested on Sunday in various towns in Iran and the shops of some others had been shut and sealed by authorities. Saba Farnoosh, Negar Bagheri, Nava Monjazeb, Yavar Haghighat, Navid Aghdasi, Helia Moshtagh, Keyvan and Parvin Nikain, Yeghane Aghahi, Matin Janemian, Arshia Rouhani, Sanaz Ishaq, Nika Pakzadan, Farzane Daneshgari and Naghme Zabihian are among the Bahai detainees from Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad. Padideh Sabeti, the spokesperson for the Bahai community told Rooz these individuals were arrested on Sunday, November 15th when security agents went to their stores. No reasons for the arrests have been officially announced. In the days leading up to the Sunday arrests, the shops of a number of other Bahais in the towns of Ghaemshahr, Rafsanjan and Kerman were shut and sealed by officials. These closures came after the Bahais had celebrated a religious event. Ms. Sabeti said that Friday and Saturday were religious holidays for Bahais and that it was possible that the owners of these stores had shut their shops in respect for these holidays. Bahaism is not officially recognized as a religion or faith in the constitution of the Islamic republic of Iran (while Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians are) and its followers have been denied their social privileges since the 1979 Islamic revolution with many being arrested, receiving harsh prison sentences and even executions in the 1980s. According to Ms. Sabeti, there are currently 79 Bahai Iranians in prisons across the country who are serving prison terms. In addition to social deprivation, Bahais in Iran also are discriminated against in government jobs and government-provided education at the highest level. Many of their places of worship too have been demolished in various towns. According to Dayan Alai, another spokesperson for the Iranian Bahai community, all university professors and government employees who following Bahaism had been dismissed from their jobs after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Ms. Sabeti said when Hassan Rouhani was elected president, there were hopes that the condition of Bahais in Iran would improve, but in the two years since he has been in office, there have actually been more arrests and economic pressure on them making their conditions worse. “In the last five months, as economic relations with the world have gradually inched for the better, we too hoped that they (authorities) would reduce pressure on them, even if just to show the world a better face,” Ms. Sabeti said. She continued, “If they want foreign investment, then they must present a country in which there is security and respect for the law.” She explained, “The restrictions, especially those in the economic sphere, that are imposed on the Bahai community have deprived its members of peace. Bahais do not even know even know under what conditions and what basis their shops are shut and sealed off. These events and conditions do not portray a stable country. We had hoped that there would be some improvement in the condition of Bahais, but unfortunately this has not been the case.” Seven Bahai leaders were arrested in Iran about seven years ago and convicted to prison terms on charges of being “spies for Israel,” “insulting sacred values,” and, “engaging in propaganda against the regime.”]]>
interview Tue, 17 Nov 2015 19:51:00 +0000
New Law Will Shut the Political Sphere of the Country http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/17/article/new-law-will-shut-the-political-sphere-of-the-country.html Article 5 of Iran’s Parties Law provides that “Effective members of an annulled party who were effective members at the time of the annulment, and annulment was carried by a court order because it had committed a crime” shall be “deprived of creating a new party or joining one as a member for five years.” Fereshteh Ghazi

Article 5 of Iran’s Parties Law provides that “Effective members of an annulled party who were effective members at the time of the annulment, and annulment was carried by a court order because it had committed a crime” shall be “deprived of creating a new party or joining one as a member for five years.” Commenting on this law which was passed as the country approaches the critical February Majlis election, former Majlis representative and a member of the Jebhe Mosharekat (Iran Participation Front, a pro-reform party that was banned by the government after the 2009 disputed elections) Mohammad Kianooshrad told RoozOnline that the law was a political act which if approved by the Guardian Council would result in the closure of the political atmosphere of the country. In an earlier amendment of the Parties Law, no time limitation existed on banning former party members to join or create new parties. But the Guardians Council found fault with that and returned the bill for amendment. Then Majlis deputies added the 5 year restriction to the bill. Since the banning of the Participation Front, Kianooshrad has joined another newly formed party, the Hezbe Etehad Mellat Iran Islami party (National Unity Party of Islamic Iran) at its leadership level. The party has been formed by pro-reformist individuals. “It is completely clear that the spirit and framework of this law is to prevent some political activists from participating in civil activities. The (new) party is following its activities legally and through civil activism but this law prevents political activists from engagement through parties that have been formed in the new political atmosphere,” he told RoozOnline. “When law makers and then the judiciary ban a party in the absence of specific relevant laws regarding banning and dissolving, and then they pass legislation banning the members of these parties from forming new parties and from joining parties, it is clear that these are done to prevent political activists from the political sphere of the country and removing them from there,” he continued. “The reality regarding the banning of some political parties is that we have been witness that ban orders are issued without due process of law and the code of civil procedure, and even then court orders annulling a party are issued in absentia, with complete disregard for the law.” Kianooshrad said he hoped that the Guardians Council would reject this bill. But if the bill is approved and becomes law, then it indicates the closing of the sphere for political activists. Pointing to the term “effective” in the law, he said this is a subjective term that can be interpreted differently. He went further and said that this law will bite those who had passed it as well. “The Majlis should have acted as a professional and expert entity and looked at the good of the public for the long term when passing this legislation. Passing a bad law can actually act against those very individuals who have passed it as under different circumstances it could be used against them. Unfortunately some law makers act on the basis of short-term political gains. It is completely clear to me that this (law) was done from a purely political perspective.” He concluded by saying, “If we assume and accept that members of a banned political party are not allowed to create a new political party, the ban on their participation in a new party is an additional problem in the law.”]]>
interview Tue, 17 Nov 2015 18:54:00 +0000
Sexual Crimes are the Only Benefits of Gender Mixing in the West http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/13/article/sexual-crimes-are-the-only-benefits-of-gender-mixing-in-the-west.html Once again Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei has criticized what he termed as a reduction in the pace of scientific activities in Hassan Rouhani’s administration and said cultural work at universities was not to hold concerts or organize cultural camps but to raise “pious” young men. Arash Bahmani

Once again Iran’s leader ayatollah Khamenei has criticized what he termed as a reduction in the pace of scientific activities in Hassan Rouhani’s administration and said cultural work at universities was not to hold concerts or organize cultural camps but to raise “pious” young men. In his meeting with heads of the country’s universities, research centers and other institutions of higher education and research, he said some indicators showed that the “pace of scientific progress” in Iran had fallen two places which he called “bad” and added, “With this pace, we are very much behind.” The other parts of his talk focused on the conditions at Iranian universities. Identifying these to be “cultural issues” Khamenei said, “Some have mistaken cultural activity to mean concerts and mixed camps and justify their viewpoint by saying, ‘students must be happy.’” He then added that being happy is good but at what price? At the price of holding mixed events? What benefits have Westerners derived from mixing genders other than the current sexual crimes that we should follow them?” A few months ago too Khamenei had mentioned “mixed camps and music concerts” at universities as “wrong ways” that were prevalent. “Those who take women and men students to Europe under the guise of creating attraction in mixed groups under the name of student camps are undoubtedly committing treason regarding student environments and even future generations,” he said. Some of this criticism goes back to the days when Mohammad Khatami was president of Iran, between 1997 and 2005, and promoted more liberal norms. A video footage shows him criticizing Mostafa Moin, who was the cabinet minister of science (which oversees universities in Iran). In his latest speech on the subject, Khamenei said, “The right cultural work” at universities was “to raise pious, creative, revolutionary, committed to the ideals of the country and the Islamic regime individuals who also had religious and political insight and depth” because what caused many individuals who participated in the 2009 sedition, and were not necessary bad people, to fault was a lack of insight.” Khamenei also mentioned groups and organizations at the universities and said, “The reports that I get from some universities, which I hope are not true, is just the opposite of this to the effect that devoted, revolutionary and healthy groups are put under pressure.” He then advised university authorities to “Give revolutionary, pious, good, religious and deep students the necessary settings so that that environment remains under their control.” Even when Hassan Rouhani had presented his cabinet ministers, reports indicated that Iran’s leader had opposed the nomination of Jaafar Tofighi to lead the ministry of science, reports that were not denied by his office and aides. Following this, when the issue of “illegal scholarships” to pro-government officials came up (which was partly led by the new government), Khamenei opposed the view of the government and that of the ministry of science. He not only said that the issue should not have been raise but even said the criticism was wrong, and even called it “unlawful,” “unethical,” and “unthoughtful.” After this Rouhani’s then minister of science Reza Farajidana was summoned to the Majlis for his supportive remarks of criticism of the scholarships. Rouhani himself had stressed in strong words that he would pursue the issue of “unlawful scholarships.”]]>
report Fri, 13 Nov 2015 08:55:00 +0000
Minister of Intel: Russian Intervention in Syria Produces Security Challenge in Iran http://www.roozonline.com/english/news3/newsitem/archive/2015/november/11/article/minister-of-intel-russian-intervention-in-syria-produces-security-challenge-in-iran.html Iran’s ministry of intelligence announced the arrest of 40 members of “terrorist groups” in the provinces of Khuzestan, Sistan va Baluchistan, Tehran, Golestan and Mazandaran, and has said “Pressure caused by Russia’s military operations in Syria” has resulted in greater efforts by Iran’s “enemies” to challenge the security of Iran. Kaveh Ghoreishi

Iran’s ministry of intelligence announced the arrest of 40 members of “terrorist groups” in the provinces of Khuzestan, Sistan va Baluchistan, Tehran, Golestan and Mazandaran, and has said “Pressure caused by Russia’s military operations in Syria” has resulted in greater efforts by Iran’s “enemies” to challenge the security of Iran. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, minister of intelligence Mahmoud Alavi said that more than 10 people had been arrested in the provinces of Golestan, Mazandaran, Tehran and Sistan va Baluchistan while more than another 20 individuals had been arrested in towns in western Iran. About the 20 individuals, Alavi said they “had initiated actions regarding Syria and Iraq.” He also claimed that the detainees “were pursuing efforts to engage in terrorist acts in various provinces and had carjacked vehicles from individuals and then killed the passengers. All of them have been identified and arrested, and their plans have been squashed.” When unidentified individuals on October 16th attacked a mourning ceremony in Safiabad in the town of Dezful (in the province of Khuzestan) killing two individuals and injuring another two, the minister of intelligence announced that the 14 perpetrators of the incident has been arrested in a short time and handed over to the judiciary. Prior to that, General Hossein Ashtari, the top commander of Iran’s police force had also said that a number of individuals had been arrested in connection with the shootings in the memorial ceremony in Dezful. Alavi had predicted earlier that during the months of Moharram and Safar “mourning ceremonies” would be under threat from “terrorist groups” because it was unbearable for “international and regional enemies to see unmatched security in the Islamic republic.” He continued, “Since many years ago they have used all means, with support from terrorist groups, to challenge the security of the Islamic republic.” Speaking during his weekly news conference last Tuesday Alavi also said, “The pressure from Russia’s military operations in Syria against the terrorists has resulted in greater efforts by terrorist and enemies of Iran to challenge this country’s security.” With the launching of the civil war in Syria and Iraq, and greater unrest in Afghanistan, extremist groups in Middle Easter countries too have expanded their activities and in their offensive view Iran as a barrier to their push into Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the provinces mentioned by the minister of intelligence where the recent arrests were made, Sistan va Baluchistan stands out as the provinces where tens of individuals are killed every year because of violent armed clashes along the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.]]>
report Wed, 11 Nov 2015 06:56:00 +0000