12 Dec 2009 19:09
Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.
Unrest in Qom
Press TV | Dec. 12, 2009
A report by Iranian state TV alleging that a portrait of the late founder of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was torn by student protesters has reportedly "sparked anger throughout the country, [and] resulted in protest in the holy city of Qom.
"The main seminary cancelled Saturday's morning classes in protest against the incident, while students in a number of other cities took to the streets to express their rage," according to Press TV. "The desecration was also condemned in Friday prayers across Iran."
Opposition sites warn of imminent Mousavi arrest
Norooz | Dec. 12, 2009
Speculation is running high that Iranian authorities are preparing to arrest opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, the pro-reform website Kalameh reported Saturday. Mousavi's official website also carried a statement by the opposition leader warning that "something is about to happen" and urging his supporters to be "alert" and await further developments.
Shojouni calls for slaughter of opposition, if Leader allows it
Ayande News | Dec. 12, 2009In a gathering of seminary students in Tehran, Hojjatoleslam Jafar Shojouni lashed out at opposition figures, calling them stupid idiots who should not be given the satisfaction of being jailed.
The students canceled seminary classes in protest of the alleged desecration of a poster of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini by supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi on 16 Azar.
According to ILNA, Shojouni said that it was stupid to rip up a Khomeini poster and toss a 10,000 rial note ($1) at it, to say that the Imam is dead.
In Iran, it is customary to throw money on the bodies of the victims of roadside accidents to ward off bad karma.
"Saying that the Imam is dead is stupid, because in my opinion and the opinion of the oppressed nations of the world, just as Imam Hussein [the second Shia Imam] is alive, Imam Khomeini is living and will remain alive," he said.
Shojouni then told a story about his trip to Libya and Egypt after the Revolution in Iran. "When I reported back to Imam Khomeini, he laughed when I told him even though the majority of Islamic governments have corrupt leaders, Muslim nations all support you," he said.
The member of the Combatant Clerics Society went on to criticize one of the defeated presidential candidates for promising to disband the Moral Police, a branch of the Iranian police force that patrols the streets and enforces strict dress codes for women.
"These issues have been addressed in the constitution and I don't know why this person sought illegal authority, because disbanding the Moral Police would only make prostitutes and thugs happy."
"One of the others [candidates] idiotically opined, 'Don't execute children.' One son of a gun [teenager] in Pakdasht raped eight minors and set fire to their corpses and you want us not to execute him? This is what Israel says, that Iran must respect childrens' rights and that man [Karroubi] repeats their [Israelis] words."
"It amazes me that some people call themselves engineers [Mousavi] and know nothing about engineering and some people wear an amameh [turban] and make [bovine] comments [Karroubi]. Where is your brain? Don't you read? Who do you think you are?"
Shojouni then told a story about his encounter with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei at the late Imam Khomeini's funeral. "At the ceremony, when I ran into the Supreme Leader, I told him my only wish was to see the rest of the Muslim countries of the world think clearly and choose you as the [sole] leader of the Muslim world. He thanked me and immediately went to perform the prayer of passing [for the deceased imam Khomeini]."
Regarding punishment of the opposition leaders, Shojouni said, "Do you think putting them [Mousavi and Karroubi] behind bars would do good? No. We must ignore them and when they participate in gatherings people must shout 'death to the seditionist' at them and throw shoes at them to knock their hats down [reference to Karroubi]. If they are thrown in prison they will turn into heroes."
He then warned the opposition of "tearing them apart if the Leader gives permission."
"They gave the [safeguarding of] the revolution to the IRGC and Basij, and they fought to keep the establishment [in tact] tooth and nail," he said.
"Those who sit and issue statements [Mousavi and Khatami] are stupid idiots. When they were presidents and ministers of this establishment they gathered billions in wealth."
Seminary students and professors have written a letter to Prosecutor-General Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei requesting the punishment of what they call 'heads of sedition.'
Ayatollah Sanei: They set fire to Imam's poster and frame students
Noandish | Dec. 12, 2009
Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Yousofali Sanei said people cannot be expected to stand up for Palestinian rights when acts of violence are committed against Iranians in their own country.
"If you want to do something for Palestinians you must reduce the pressures inside the country and return the disciples of Imam Khomeini back to the scene," Ayatollah Sanei told ILNA.
He expressed dismay over the desecration of Imam Khomeini's poster on 16 Azar, saying, "some people, when they reach a dead end, will use anything, even the late Imam. Oppressors set fire to the Imam's poster and blamed the students for it. This is while students are all willing to give their lives for the Imam and if they have any objection it is only because the Imam said that 'the will of the nation is the [true] scale of measurement."
He expressed concern over violence against students. "Nothing will be achieved through violence," he warned.
MP: Perhaps govt supporters disrespected Imam Khomeini
Gooya | Dec. 12, 2009
A reformist lawmaker has said that it would not be surprising if the radical supporters of the government were found to be responsible for insulting the late Imam Khomeini.
According to the Kalameh website, in reaction to the broadcast of footage showing disregard for the founder of the Islamic Republic on 16 Azar, Hojjatoleslam Hossein Hashemian said, "Seda Sima [state broadcaster] lifted the boundary of profanity associated with disrespecting Imam [Khomeini]."
"It would not be surprising that the extremist supporters of the government committed this act on purpose or out of ignorance," he said. "It is possible that a number of radical government supporters tore up the poster of Imam Khomeini to tarnish the [public] image of Mir Hossein Mousavi or Mehdi Karroubi. In reality it was an extremely ignorant act."
"There is no need for the IRIB to air such vulgar footage because this will only lift the boundary of profanity" he said. "Instead of showing respect to the late Imam, IRIB made light of such a crime."
Hashemian stressed that it was necessary to find the perpetrators of this act. "The student supporters of these two reformist figures [Karroubi and Mousavi] do not have such a [anti-Khomeini] mentality and would never do such a thing," he added.
Torabi: Radical scenario to frame Greens doomed to fail
Parleman News | Dec.12, 2009
A reformist lawmaker said the green movement was being framed for desecrating Imam's posters and called on officials to issue demonstration permits to show the true sentiments of the greens for Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini.
In reaction to footage of a desecrated Imam poster being aired on state television, Nasrollah Torabi said, "It appears that their [Principlists] scenario is being unveiled act by act and they have started to show their true intentions."
"There is no one in the Islamic Republic of Iran who has anything poor to say about the Imam and over the past 30 years no one has ever disrespected the Imam or his pictures," he said.
"One of their many mistakes was broadcasting footage of a torn Imam poster on state television. It must be determined who tore it. Who wrote this scenario and with what objective in mind? Did they come up with this plan in their think tanks?...The state broadcaster played its role well in this scenario."
"IRIB made a huge mistake particularly because it tried to blame the green movement and the Imam's favorite prime minister [Mir Hossein Mousavi] for this incident."
"If these gentleman issue a permit for a demonstration in condemnation of disrespecting the Imam it will become clear who truly respects the Imam."
"Unfortunately, by airing the footage showing disrespect for the Imam our state broadcaster made the long-time wish of our enemies come true and all foreign media outlets will rebroadcast this footage that was initially aired by us."
"Today the story of the establishment and the revolution is that of the two women fighting over one child. When the judge ruled that they must kill the child, the real mother, concerned about the well-being of her child, withdrew her claim."
"Today the Reformists who are committed to the establishment and the revolution have given up their right but the movement that had no role in the [victory of] revolution and is not concerned [about its well being] continues to provoke and insists on animosity."
"Such scenarios are doomed to fail and they will only cause extremists to further go down in the quagmire they have created for themselves."
Qom seminaries cancel classes over Khomeini desecration
Tabnak | Dec. 11, 2009
Seminaries in Qom cancelled their classes on Saturday to protest the desecration of a poster of the founder of Iran's revolution Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini on 16 Azar.
According to the Fars News Agency report, students gathered at the Feiziyeh Seminary in protest of the disrespectful act committed against Imam Khomeini.
The statement issued by the Qom seminary said that "The blatant disregard of the late founder of the Islamic Republic by a number of rioters in recent days has broken the hearts of all those who respected him [Khomeini]. This atrocious act is reminiscent of bold and disrespectful act of the atrocious Pahlavi regime in 1977."
"In order to show our abhorrence to this act and our support for the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei all classes will be canceled from 10am -12 pm on Saturday."
Ayatollah Makarem's theories about photo desecration
Ayande News | Dec. 12, 2009
Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi said disrespecting the late founder of the Islamic Republic was tantamount to disrespecting the values of the revolution and Iranian nation.
"The roots of this disrespect may be one of three things: one, a dim-witted individual out of stupidity committed this act [ripping an Imam Khomeini poster]."
"Two, a counterrevolutionary committed this outrageous act."
"Or three, an enemy agent penetrated their ranks and committed this crime to create discord among the people."
He urged all revolutionary individuals to condemn this act. "We must not allow the dams to break one after the other. We must not allow sanctities to be violated and the establishment to weaken," he said.
Daneshjou: We do not capitulate to students
Mehr News | Dec. 12, 2009
The Education Minister said that if students commit acts of sacrilege, they will be dealt with as the people demanded, as no university capitulation rights were in place.
Kamran Daneshjou said that being a member of the elite meant showing respect for the rights of others, their beliefs and religious values.
"When someone has all these characteristics they can be considered one of the elite," he said. "Tehran University has around 30,000 and when 200 of them commit an act that causes them to no longer be one of the enlightened, they become elite in name but not in deed."
He went on to stress that there were no university capitulation rights in place. "When it happens that inside the university they insult the beliefs of the people, deans, professors, students, and people ask that students be forced to respect sanctities."
"The people will not allow authorities to permit a small number of students to violate sanctities. In this regard we will be acting according to the law."
"It is clear that if someone enters a mosque with shoes they will throw him out. We will also do what the people want us to do. The people want us to ensure that the sanctity of universities are preserved and at the same time more respect is shown for [religious] sanctities."
"Presently the line between right and wrong is blurry... On the one hand, debate and criticism is good and if there is no critique or debate in universities, it will not be beneficial for the country; but we must realize that criticism does not mean insults and coups."
"We and the people will not allow sanctities to be violated in universities or the inciting of universities from the outside or else what happened in Qom will be repeated. The people will step in because they are religious... they will not allow anyone to insult their sanctities... and will confront the insulters."
"We must determine whether the perpetrators [ripping the Khomeini poster] were students or came from outside the university. But our people and academics are enlightened individuals who have a lot of respect for sanctities and there are only a few [lost causes] capable of such desecrations."
Telco auction winner, wife found dead in Tehran
Tabnak | Dec. 12, 2009
The official Iranian telecommunications website announced that the CEO of the Etemad Mobin company, and new owner of the managerial shares of the telecommunications company of Iran, has been found dead along with his wife.
According to the TCI.ir website, Soleimanipour and his wife were found dead in their home due to carbon dioxide poisoning. The coroner is examining the two bodies to determine the cause of death.
Asgaroladi withdraws support for Karroubi, Mousavi
Hasheah | Dec. 11, 2009
Principlist figure Habibollah Asgaroladi, who had earlier spoken in support of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, changed his stance saying they are the [now] "red lines" of the establishment.
According to the Jahan report, Asgaroladi had earlier described Mousavi, Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami as the family members of the revolution who should not be turned into the red lines of the establishment.
Asgaroladi recently said that Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami are becoming more and more isolated from the supporters of the revolution and establishment, and gaining popularity among the counter-revolutionaries and enemies of the establishment.
"Mousavi and Karroubi intentionally or unintentionally are treading the path of no return," he said. "From the day that they talked of vote rigging and placed the order for street protests on their agenda they entered the dialogue of a soft war against the establishment and from that day they decided to pursue their claims not through legal channels but with the support of the Western media army. And by using the slogans of the Imam and revolution, particularly on 13 Aban [Nov.4] and Quds Day, they inevitably began to walk the path of staging a coup against the establishment."
"To this day, Mousavi and Karroubi have refused to accept the advice of their well-wishers, and there are no signs that they are ready to accept advice or guidance."
Ayatollah Safi warns against obstructing Ashura ceremonies
Ayande News| Dec. 12, 2009
Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpayegani said people should be allowed to hold mourning ceremonies for Imam Hussein, as is the custom in the month of Moharam every year.
There have been talks of not allowing citizens to hold mourning ceremonies with processions this Moharam as it could easily be turned into a protest.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Imam Hussein Encyclopedia, Ayatollah Safi said, "Everyone must participate in the annual Imam Hussein mourning ceremonies, in their [the ceremony] traditional form... and no group or party has the right to prevent the holding of these ceremonies."
"People must be allowed to freely have processions [for Ashura]."
Iran offers to swap low-enriched uranium for fuel
AFP | Dec. 12, 2009
Iran's foreign minister on Saturday proposed that Tehran swap 400 kilos of low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel in an exchange on a Gulf island as the first phase of a deal with world powers.
Any new sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme "will have no impact," Manouchehr Mottaki also said at a security conference in Bahrain.
"We are prepared to take 400 kilogrammes (880 pounds) of 3.5-percent enriched uranium to the island of Kish and exchange it" for the equivalent in 20-percent enriched uranium, he said.
He told the opening session of the conference in Manama that Iran agreed "in principle" to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal to swap 1,200 kilos of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.
The 400-kilo exchange on Iran's southern Gulf island, a free trade zone, could be an initial step in a process that would take several years, Mottaki told a later news conference.
The Islamic republic's foreign minister said the process could begin "right away" if the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany agreed to the offer.
But the IAEA has already ruled out a swap taking place inside Iran.
Siemens probed over exports to Iran
Deutsche Welle | Dec. 12, 2009
German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday that Siemens faces a government probe for selling technology to Iran that could have been used for the country's nuclear missile program.
One of the cases involves a delivery of turbo compressors seized by customs officers in Hamburg. The shipment was worth 16 million euros and reportedly part of a larger order dispatched by a Swedish subsidiary of Siemens to an Iranian company.
Siemens would not give specific details about the shipments. But the company told Der Spiegel that it did not break any German foreign trade laws. "Our business activities in Iran serve purely civil purposes and are in accord with international legal regulations," a Siemens spokesperson told the magazine.
Israeli secret service seeking Persian speakers
Haaretz | Dec. 11, 2009
The Shin Bet security service published an unusual want ad in the newspapers this week, seeking "Persian-speaking field coordinators." Training for the position, the ad said, was open to both men and women, and would begin in April.
The Shin Bet is aiming to find candidates to serve as field agents to thwart infiltration attempts by Iranian intelligence agents in Israel.
The want ad for Persian speakers contains a series of new elements that makes it stand out. Both the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence are responsible for intelligence gathering in Iran; the Shin Bet's responsibility is to prevent subversion, espionage and sabotage.
The focus of such work, it may be assumed, is to stymie Iran's efforts to enlist spies among Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. Such contacts are usually made through Hezbollah.
US freezes $2 billion in Iran case
WSJ | Dec. 12, 2009
More than $2 billion allegedly held on behalf of Iran in Citigroup Inc. accounts were secretly ordered frozen last year by a federal court in Manhattan, in what appears to be the biggest seizure of Iranian assets abroad since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The legal order, executed 18 months ago by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is under seal and hasn't been made public. The court acted in part because of information provided by the U.S. Treasury Department.
President Barack Obama has pledged to enact new economic sanctions on Iran at year-end if Tehran doesn't respond to international calls for negotiations over its nuclear-fuel program.
Helping Iran's student protesters
LA Times | Dec. 11, 2009
No one understands the revolutionary potential of students better than old revolutionaries. That's one reason Iranian security forces fought hard with tear gas, batons and arrests this week to put down university protests across the country. Another is that six months after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection, and despite persistent government efforts to quash the unrest, the protests continue. To these students, the leadership that took power three decades ago in a popular uprising against the repressive government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is now the repressive establishment. With youthful courage and conviction, they are now daring to shout "Down with the dictator!" while holding aloft photographs of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to witnesses and amateur videos.
Today's students belong to a broad movement led by reformist politicians Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both of whom ran for president against Ahmadinejad. The government and the increasingly powerful Revolutionary Guard know from experience that students are a vanguard of the discontented; they view the young protesters as a threat to their divine responsibility to maintain the Islamic state.
The students, for their part, seem to be girding for a long fight, and the West should follow their lead. Western governments should offer the reform movement moral support.
* * *Photo: President's seat missing at this recent Expediency Council meeting, a Constitutional body that mediates between Majles and the Guardian Council. The EC is headed by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.