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23 Dec 2009 20:23No Comments

50 arrested in Isfahan unrest

Rahe Sabz | Dec. 23, 2009

More than 50 people were arrested during protests in the city of Isfahan Wednesday, including four members of the press.

According to eyewitnesses, opposition supporters attending a memorial service for the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri at Isfahan's Seyyed Mosque chanted slogans such as "death to the dictator" and "this is the month of blood, Yazid will be overthrown" [in reference to the holy month of Moharram and the epic Shia battle of Ashura against the tyrant Yazid].

Security forces reportedly attacked the mourners, arresting 50 individuals and assaulting many others.

While the identities of the detainees are still unclear, it has been confirmed that Masoud Adib, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign manager in Isfahan, was among the detainees.

According to a report by Jaras, security forces assaulted Adib before taking him away. "Even though Adib is a cleric and was wearing clerical robes, plainclothes forces severely injured him and dragged him away with unexpected violence."

Parleman News reported that four of the detainees were journalists.

Mehr reporters arrested in Isfahan

Rahe Sabz | Dec. 23, 2009

A reporter and a photojournalist working for Mehr News Agency were detained in Isfahan Wednesday while reporting on the unrest taking place outside of Seyyed Mosque.

It is not yet known where the two were being held.

Isfahan cleric prevented from attending Montazeri memorial

Rouydad News | Dec. 23, 2009

Security forces prevented Ayatollah Seyyed Jalaleldin Taheri from attending a memorial service for Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri Wednesday at Seyyed Mosque in Isfahan.

Despite Ayatollah Taheri's efforts to attend the ceremony, security forces stopped his car by blocking the highway and later raided the Taheri residence.

This is while the memorial service for Ayatollah Montazeri had been organized by Ayatollah Taheri, a former Isfahan Friday Prayers leader who resigned from his post over the July 9 attack on Tehran University dormitories.

Security forces raided the memorial service at Seyyed Mosque and arrested 50 of Ayatollah Montazeri's mourners.

The crowd present shouted slogans such as "The Mahdi will come himself, he doesn't need a deputy!" and "Khamenei is a killer, his rule is null and void."

When security forces attempted to detain pro-opposition cleric Masoud Adib, Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign manager in Isfahan and a member of the Islamic Participation Front, the people present formed a human chain around him and pronounced that they would not allow a clergyman to be disrespected.

But plainclothes forces broke up the circle and sprayed Adib in the face with pepper spray and dragged him off, eyewitnesses say.

Parleman News reported that a crowd who gathered outside Ayatollah Taheri's residence managed to break the police siege and enter his home.

A tearful Ayatollah Taheri told the people, "I invited the people to come [to the memorial]. I'm ashamed to see [security forces] react this way to the memorial service held for a Source of Emulation."

"I was aware of the [violent] situation taking place at Seyyed Mosque and did not hesitate one moment to join the people. I tried to reach the [memorial] ceremony from six different routes but they closed each one after the other," he added.

Abdollah Ramezanzadeh released from Evin

Parleman News | Dec. 23, 2009

Prominent Reformist politician Abdollah Ramezanzadeh was released from prison Wednesday after months in detention

Ramezanzadeh, a former government speaker under the Khatami administration, was arrested in June in the immediate aftermath of Iran's disputed elections.

Journalist Fariba Pajoo released from prison

[blog watch] | Dec. 23, 2009

Blogger and journalist Fariba Pajooh was released on bail on Tuesday after 123 days in prison. Ms. Pajooh was arrested on August 22 in the post-election crackdown on journalists.

Nationwide ban slapped on Montazeri memorials

Rahe Sabz │ Dec. 23, 2009

Governorships across Iran were given the order to not issue permits for any memorial ceremonies for the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who passed away last week.

According to the news site JARAS, in cities where flyers announcing the memorial ceremonies were printed out, event organizers were summoned to provincial intelligence bureaus and forced to call off the ceremony.

The intelligence ministry has also banned Hosseiniyeh Ershad, a prominent mosque in Tehran, from holding a memorial ceremony for Ayatollah Montazeri. It also prohibited the Hosseineyeh from holding mourning ceremonies to mark the Shia holy day of Ashura.

Police chief: rioters will be dealt with seriously

Mehr | Dec. 23, 2009

National Police Chief Brigadier General Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam said that from now on rioters will be dealt with seriously.

"There are only a few people who commit illegal actions ... we advise them again to stop . Otherwise, they will be dealt with according to the law and seriously," he told reporters in Khorramabad on Wednesday.

"It is apparent that certain people who say they follow the cause of the late Imam Khomeini and abide by the law and accept the concept of velayat-e faqih [rule by the jurisprudent] are in fact acting against the law and the cause of the Imam," he added.

Central Bank promises to slash zeros from currency

IRIB | Dec. 23, 2009

Iran's Central Bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani said omitting three or four zeros from Iran's currency is related to implementation of economic development plan in the country.

He told IRIB reporters in Shiraz on Tuesday that studies for omitting zeros from bank-notes have been finalized.

Bahmani added that government plans to reduce the inflation rate to a one-digit number.

He expressed hope that inflation rate would reach 10.5 to 11 percent by March 2010 [the first month of the Iranian calendar].

Larijani: Iran ready to enrich uranium to 20%

Press TV | Dec. 23, 2009

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Iran will start enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent if the Western side keeps refusing to sell the country's needed fuel.

"We intended to buy fuel to supply fuel for the Tehran research reactor but if they do not want to sell fuel to us, we will enrich uranium," Larijani told reporters in a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa in Cairo Tuesday.

He rejected claims that Iran had initially accepted to exchange enriched uranium in Syria or France.

Bin Laden daughter hides in Saudi embassy in Iran

AP | Dec. 23, 2009

A daughter of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has taken refuge in the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after eluding guards who have held her and five brothers under house arrest for eight years, a Saudi-owned newspaper reported Wednesday.

It has long been believed that Iran has held in custody a number of bin Laden's children since they fled Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion of that country in 2001 -- most notably Saad and Hamza bin Laden, who are thought to have held positions in al-Qaida.

But Omar bin Laden, another son who lives abroad, told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Eman told relatives in a call from the embassy that 29-year-old Saad and four other brothers were still being held in Iran.

Asharq Al-Awsat said the 17-year-old daughter, Eman, slipped away from guards and fled to the Saudi Embassy nearly a month ago. The embassy's charge d'affaires, Fouad al-Qassas, confirmed to the paper that she has been at the mission for 25 days and that there were diplomatic efforts with the Iranians to get her out of the country.

Iran denies holding Bin Laden's sons

BBC Monitoring│ Dec. 22, 2009

Iran's foreign ministry rejected statements made by the son of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden that Tehran is holding members of his family.

Iran Comes Out On Top In Secret Simulated War Games

Times Online │ Dec. 23, 2009

Iran has emerged as the victor in secret war games that simulated an Israeli attack on one of its nuclear facilities.

According to the scenario, the Obama administration decided to pursue a diplomatic approach to Tehran, leaving America's closest military ally in the region in the lurch.

The exercise, staged by Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies last month, showed that even an Israeli commando raid on Iran's heavy water plant at Arak would not draw the US into a military conflict with Iran.

"Our leverage over the Americans, when we could prise them away from the Iranians and Europeans and others, was limited," said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser who played the role of the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the simulated conflict.

"Pretty much the only card we had to play was the military action card. And that's a faded card."

"The Iranians came out feeling better than the Americans as they were simply more determined to stick to their objectives," Mr Eiland added.

Security analysts in Israel and America have warned of the potential high cost to be paid if Israel attacks Iran and say that such a strike would at best delay, rather than stamp out, Iran's nuclear program. The cost would be not only to Israel, whose cities are within range of Iranian missiles and which would likely be hit by the Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza, but also to the United States. Analysts expect that Iran would step up support for anti-American militants in the Gulf, as well as for militias fighting
US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Mr Ahmadinejad dismissed the end-of-year deadline set by Washington for Tehran to accept a UN-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.

Mousavi sacked as Academy of Arts president

Press TV │ Dec. 22, 2009

Iran's Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution appointed Ali Moallem Damghani to the position of President of the Academy of Arts on Tuesday.

The Council named Moallem on Tuesday to replace defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Secretary and Spokesman of the Council, Mohammad Reza Mokhber Dezfouli, as saying.

Mousavi had headed Iran's Academy of Arts since its establishment in 1998.

Mousavi reacts to removal by thanking colleagues, saying goodbye
Parleman News │ Dec. 23, 2009

In response to his removal from the position of president of the Academy of Arts, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi wrote a letter in which he thanked the Academy's employees and bid them farewell.

Former MP: Mousavi removal act of desperation

Parleman News │ Dec. 23, 2009

Former lawmaker Saeed Abutaleb said that the removal of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi from his post as the president of the Academy of Arts shows that contrary to their claims, authorities are feeling desperate.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad changed his Shiraz visit schedule to return to Tehran within a few hours of his departure to participate in the meeting that appointed poet Ali Moallem Damghani as the new President of the Academy of Arts and dismissed the founder of the Academy, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

"Such acts only show that these gentlemen ... are desperate," Abutaleb told reporters.

Academy of arts members may collectively resign

HRA │ Dec. 23, 2009

Following the removal of Mir Hossein Mousavi from his position as the head of the Academy of Arts, the permanent members of the academy are rumored to be planning to collectively resign.

The 27 permanent members of the academy include famous artists such as Mahmoud Farchchian, Zahra Rahnavard, Daryoush Mehrjoui, Mohammad-Reza Hosseini Beheshti, Mahmoud Azizi, Majid Majidi, and others.

Prosecutor's office to punish insults to Rafsanjani

Khabar Online │ Dec. 23, 2009

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said punishing anyone who defames the head of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani does not require a personal complainant.

The prosecutor's office sees it as its duty to take proper action against the defamation of the heads of the three branches of government and in this regard there is no need for a personal complainant."

"We don't believe in favoritism because favoritism is harmful to justice."

Asked why the prosecutor's office had not dealt with a number of clerics for making remarks that could be considered a violation the law, Dolatabadi said, "that falls outside the jurisdiction of the prosecutor's office and the case must be heard by the Clerical Court."

Tehran city council divided over Ayatollah Montazeri

Khabar Online │ Dec. 23, 2009

Head of the Tehran City Council Mehdi Chamran changed the subject when former vice-president Masoumeh Ebtekar proposed naming a freeway after the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

An informed source said that Chamran dismissed the topic by saying that the proposal would be reviewed at a later date.

City council member Ahmad Masjed-Jamei spoke in praise of the late Ayatollah but was told by Chamran to not take time up with unrelated subjects.

Ahmadinejad pledges ministers' fates to workers in Shiraz

Salam News │ Dec. 23, 2009

Kayhan reported that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking in Shiraz, said that his Communications and Industries ministers would resolve the problems of citizens during the two-day tour of Fars province.

"f your problems are not resolved within these two days, I will turn these ministers over to you to do what you will with them," Ahmadinejad told workers of Iran's long-distance communications factories.

Khamenei critic sacked

Rahe Sabz │ Dec. 23, 2009

Head of the Medical Sciences Academy Iraj Fazel was removed from his post and replaced by Alireza Marandi.

Fazel, who has formerly served as Science Minister, Health Minister and was also the late Imam Rouhollah Khomeini's personal physician, in July wrote an open letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he criticized the events that took place in Iran following the
presidential election.

In his July letter to the Supreme Leader, Fazel wrote, "Why must we ... watch the blood of our innocent youth shed? Why must our dear students and young boys and girls be viciously attacked and locked up in dungeons?"

"Why must a nation, who still feels the fatigue a Revolution in its bones, have so many political prisoners? Who is responsible for this injustice against this justice-seeking nation?"

"What means do the people have left to pursue their legitimate demand? What is it that you think the people of Iran want?"

Unconfirmed report: Qom authorities seek forced evacuation of Montazeri home

Rahe Sabz │Dec. 22, 2009

Hours after Saeed Montazeri reported that the residence of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri was surrounded by police officers, unofficial reports claimed that Qom authorities have decided to evacuate the late Shia Source of Emulation's home.

According to these reports, Colonel Farhadi who represents Qom authorities in talks with the Montazeri family has told them that they must evacuate the premises or else the attackers will not leave.

A number of other unofficial reports said attackers had broken the windows of the Montazeri house. Qom authorities say that the attackers want the closure of Montazeri's office, and that is the reason why they broke the windows.

Incoming reports from Qom claim that there is heavy security presence in the city and that an air of tension can be sensed throughout the Shia scholarly hub.

JARAS has been trying to obtain further information on the matter but initial reports suggest that all roads leading to Qom have been closed.

Militiamen attack home of Iran pro-reform cleric

Reuters │Dec. 22, 2009

Members of an Islamic militia and "plainclothes men" attacked the home of a senior pro-reform cleric, Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei, in the holy city of Qom on Tuesday, a reformist website said.

The Norooz site said the attackers insulted Sanei and beat up some of his associates. There was no immediate official comment.

Ayatollah Sistani extends condolences to Montazeri family

Tabnak │Dec. 22, 2009

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani extended his condolences to the Montazeri family over the loss of the late Ayatollah, Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

In the letter addressed to Ahmad Montazeri, the Grand Ayatollah expressed deep sorrow over the passing of Ayatollah Montazeri and extended condolences to his family and followers.

Cleric hits at oppostion, dissident ayatollah

Reuters │Dec. 22, 2009

A hardline aide to Iran's supreme leader accused the opposition on Tuesday of using the funeral of a dissident cleric to stir up "chaos" in a bid to undermine the Islamic Republic's ruling establishment.

Mojtaba Zolnour, a cleric who is a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with the elite Revolutionary Guards, also criticised late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a fierce government critic who was buried on Monday.

Huge crowds of Iranians turned out for Montazeri's funeral in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom and some chanted anti-government slogans, according to reformist websites, and there were also reports of clashes between protesters and pro-government forces.

"Ayatollah Montazeri was a deputy to Imam Khomeini who misused his power ... and meddled in the country's affairs and this served as one of the reasons for his dismissal," the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Zolnour as saying.

Kayhan account of Ayatollah Montazeri's funeral

Gooya │Dec. 22, 2009

The hardline Kayhan daily recounts the events following the death of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

The report on page 2:

Last night the people of Qom gathered in the Grand mosque where the memorial service was being held for Mr. Montazeri, and prevented the seditionists from finding an opportunity to exploit the situation.

The vast crowd shouted slogans such as "this whole army has come here out of love for the Leader", "the blood in our veins is a gift to the Leader,"  "death to America," "death to Israel," and etc...

They informed the heads of sedition that they would not allow them to exploit their [the pro-leader crowd] presence in the ceremony, which was prompted by the Leader's statement, as their [heads of sedition] success.

It should be noted that foreign media outlets and counterrevolutionary websites released photos of the Ayatollah Montazeri mourners in which by removing the placards and big posters of Imam Khomeini and the Leader that the people had brought, they tried to portray the crowd as the supporters of the heads of sedition.

The report on page 14:

Ayatollah Montazeri died of a heart attack on Sunday and was laid to rest at 11 am on Monday next to his martyred son Mohammad's eternal resting place.

Ayatollah Montazeri's mourners consisted of 5000 individuals who left immediately after his burial. The Reformists who had come to Qom from Tehran to form a gathering were unable to achieve their objectives.

There were minor tensions during the burial ceremony caused by a few individuals who chanted vulgar slogans, and were put in their place by the countless clerical students and Basijis present on the scene.

After the burial, the majority of mourners left and only 200 individuals who had been organized from before remained in front of the Hazrat Masoumeh shrine and chanted radical slogans. This caused the thousands of clerical students and Basijis present on the scene to advance toward them and disperse the crowd by chanting the slogan "the holy city of Qom is no place for seditionists."

The rioters who initially encountered the indifference and later the anger of the people of Qom, headed toward the late Mr. Montazeri's home. After arriving, there were a few minor confrontations, following that they left.

The majority of reports indicate that the heads of sedition like Mir-Hossein Mousavi who on Sunday went to Qom along with Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, Mohammad-Reza Khatami, Emad Baqi, as well as Mehdi Karroubi who went to Qom on Monday were unsuccessful in their attempts to turn the funeral procession into unrest and in the end lost their last chance to create chaos.

Websites affiliated with the Sedition Movement which are run from abroad called for a gathering in Mohseni Square on Sunday but the number of the attendees in the gathering did not exceed the fingers on both hands.

Student gathering at Azad University

Tabnak │Dec. 22, 2009

Students from Azad University's Science and Research branch gathered outside the faculty of humanities today, shouting anti-government slogans.

Their slogans were met with slogans from pro-government students.

It should be noted that while this branch of Azad University has the highest number of grad and post-grad student admissions, it is not very politically active. However, since the start of the new semester this university has become the scene of repeated gatherings.

Security forces confiscate Ahmad Qabel's documents

Mizan Press │Dec. 22, 2009

Security forces ransacked the home of Ahmad Qabel, confiscating his personal belongings and written documents.

Earlier JARAS had reported that Qabel, a religious scholar and one of the disciples of the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, was en route to Qom from Mashhad with his family, to participate in the late Ayatollah's funeral when he was taken into custody and returned to Mashhad.

According to the Qabel family, Ahmad contacted them this morning but did not say anything about the charges brought against him.

Ali Motahari reminisces about Ayatollah Montazeri

Khabar Online │Dec. 21, 2009

The son of Morteza Motahari Ali, told the story of his father's friendship with the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in a note written to mark the occasion of the Grand Ayatollah's passing.

The note published in the Etemad daily reads:

Ayatollah Montazeri was Ayatollah Motahari's closest friend and companion. They studied together for 11 years, 8 of which were spent learning from Grand Ayatollah Boroujerdi. They were considered the most prominent students of Ayatollah Boroujerdi.

They both played an important role in introducing the outstanding characteristics of Imam Khomeini to the Seminary. They learned philosophy from him for 12 years. They were considered the most prominent students of Imam Khomeini.

Sheikh Hossein-Ali Montazeri Isfahani and Sheikh Morteza Motahari Khorasani were so close that people often called them Motahari Isfahani and Montazeri Korasani.

According to Ayatollah Montazeri when either one needed money, they would take it out of the others pocket and tell him later.

Before the revolution whenever Ayatollah Montazeri was released from prison he would come straight to our house, always smiling and never complaining about the hardships of prison.

He would ask us kids how much English we had learned and exchange pleasantries with us in English. Some times he would recite a Qur'anic verse or a Hadith and ask us about its meaning. He would always address our younger sister as my daughter-in-law.

When Ayatollah Montazeri was exiled, my father would rush to his side by any means, just as he was inconsolable when my father was arrested in 1963. A few years ago when Ayatollah Montazeri was still under house arrest I obtained a permit to go visit him. The first thing he said upon seeing me was, "Ali you see what they have done to me?" It upset me very much. I said to him, "If Ayatollah Motahari was alive it wouldn't have turned out this way." He agreed with me and talked to me for an hour and a half.

He talked about his situation and about his days with my father.

One story he told me was about how my father had gotten into a disagreement with Ayatollah Boroujerdi and he remembered everything in detail.

US says year-end deadline with Iran 'very real'

Press TV │Dec. 22, 2009

After the Iranian president rejected a deadline set by the United States for diplomatic measures on the country's nuclear case, the White House moved to warn that the deadline is "very real."

Speaking in the central Iranian city of Shiraz on Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the West can "impose as many deadlines as they want on us, we don't care."

Reacting to the comment, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the end of this Christian year is "a very real deadline" for Iran to respond to Western demands over its nuclear program.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad may not recognize, for whatever reason, the deadline that looms, but that is a very real deadline for the international community," Gibbs said.

The Tehran government faces pressure to halt its nuclear enrichment as world powers claim the program is aimed at building a nuclear bomb.

Islamic student society: Ahmadinejad impervious to sedition

Ayandeh │Dec. 21, 2009

The Islamic Society of Students protested the appointment of former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as the new head of the counter-smuggling task force.

The society which is considered a Principlist one said in its letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "How is it possible that the lead suspect in the Kahrizak case is appointed by you."

The society cast doubt about the credentials of Mortazavi and asked Ahmadinejad, "Have you not read the report by the Judiciary probe committee?"

The student society alleged that "charges" have been raised against Mortazavi in the Judiciary report. "Any one of them [charges] would have disqualified an individual from joining the 9th government; how is it that the 10th government is overlooking this?"

The student society which was one of the main Ahmadinejad supporters during the 10th presidential campaign told Ahmadinejad that "there are a lot of seditionists surrounding you that unfortunately, you seem to be unaware of."

Lloyd settles U.S. case over Iranian transactions

WSJ │Dec. 22, 2009

Lloyds Banking Group PLC on Tuesday became the latest bank to reach a settlement with American authorities over the handling of funds for countries under U.S. sanctions such as Iran.

The U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced a $217 million settlement related to Lloyds's "intentional manipulation and deletion" of information in wire-transfer instructions that were routed through third-party banks located in the U.S.

The $217 million fine won't result in any new outlays for Lloyds. The government says the levy was included in a $350 million settlement reached in January with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ahmadinejad tasks team to evaluate WWII damages

Press TV │Dec. 21, 2009

The Iranian president called on Monday for the establishment of a national commission to calculate the amount of compensation for damages Iran sustained during World War II under British and Russian occupiers.

In a letter to Head of the Presidential Office Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tasked him with what he described as "asserting the Iranian nation's inalienable rights."

President Ahmadinejad described the level of hardship imposed on the nations of the world by global powers during the past century as "excessive."

"The Second World War was launched with the aim of creating new divisions and enforcing discriminatory, one-sided structures," President Ahmadinejad said in the letter.

He said while "a number of nations underwent pressure and suffered damages, certain governments benefited from political and materialistic profits."

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.

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