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27 Jan 2010 19:41No Comments

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.

Official: Report on university attack has to wait

Khabar Online | Jan. 27, 2010

Deputy Majles Speaker Seyyed Mohammad Hassan Abutorabi said officials were determined to track down and punish those behind the Tehran University dormitory incident.

"Given the Leader's wishes about a probe into the attack on the Tehran University dormitory and punishing the perpetrators, authorities are determined [to take action] and the investigations of the truth-finding committee have yielded very positive results," he said.

Abutorabi was asked why the Tehran University dorm report had not been presented in Majles. "Because the truth-finding committee's report on Kahrizak was read out in Majles, the Tehran University dorm report will be presented to lawmakers at a better time," he said. "The Tehran University dorm report is just as transparent and straightforward as the Kahrizak report and it will be read in Majles after a better conclusion is reached."

Lawmakers to meet with family of fourth Kahrizak victim

Asr Iran | Jan. 27, 2010

Head of the Majles truth-finding committee Parviz Sarvari said the panel had heard about the fourth Kahrizak victim only as they were about to conclude its report.

In response to speculation about failing to include Ramin Aghazadeh Qahramani's name in the Kahrizak report, Sarvari said, "We heard that he died after his release from prison but either way me and Mr. [Mohammad] Dehghan the will be visiting his family and we will listen to what they have to say."

The member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission told Mehr News Agency that, "This issue was different as we were following up on the cases of the Kahrizak victims and from what we heard this individual [Qahramani] passed away after his release from prison."

"Of course I am not 100 percent sure and we must review the coroner's files as well as other documents to be able to make a statement in this regard," he said. "In any case, given that the Kahrizak report has been read in Majles, the work of the truth-finding committee is over."

He added that the only way to investigate Qaharamani's case was through a delegation appointed by the National Security Commission.

Website: Eulogist's comments caused Ayatollah Safi death

Khabar Online | Jan. 27, 2010

Remarks made by a eulogist upset Ayatollah Ali Safi-Golpayegani so much it caused him a heart attack, according to the Ayandeh news Web site.

During the Ashura mourning ceremonies, Ayatollah Ali Safi heard one eulogist use inappropriate words to describe the events of Ashura which led to Imam Hossein's martyrdom, the site reported.

Ayatollah Safi was extremely upset at hearing the distorted account of Ashura and despite his advanced age and physical illness started to deliver a fiery speech in order to enlighten mourners.

Despite his frail physical condition, Ayatollah Safi spoke for 20 minutes. After the speech and due to the excitement of it, the Shia Source of Emulation experienced physical discomfort and suffered a fatal heart attack.

Ayatollah Safi was a Shia Source of Emulation and the brother of the other prominent Source of Emulation, Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpayegani. Ayatollah Bahjat had designated Ayatollah Ali Safi as the trustee of his will and tasked him with tending to the religious affairs of his office.

Elham admits mistake

Fararu | Jan. 27, 2010

Eight months after appearing at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign meeting at Mosalla -- the Tehran prayer grounds -- Gholam-Hossein Elham acknowledged he had made a mistake by attending the ceremony as a member of the Guardian Council.

"I admit, I made a mistake," he said.

"I had been invited to a number of events to speak but I had not accepted. That day I had not gone there [Mosalla] to deliver a speech. The massive crowd there pushed me toward the podium. When Mr. Ahmadinejad did not arrive at the podium, I feared that some one would be trampled in the growing crowd."

"That's when I announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad had not been able to get himself to the podium and [stepped in and] talked about general issues for a few minutes."

"Of course even if it had not been an emergency, I was his [Ahmadinejad's] spokesman and people knew me with this title... I still admit that I made a mistake but it was an emergency."

Sparks fly between MPs

Khabar Online | Tabnak | Jan. 27, 2010

Lawmaker Hamid Razaie argued with Mohammad Reza Bahonar who was filling in as Majles Speaker in the absence of Ali Larijani on Wednesday.

When Rezaei, the Tehran representative in Majlis, attempted to raise an objection, Bahonar silenced him by saying, "You have been a lawmaker for two years and Majles bylaws clearly state open sessions are held on ordinary days and [also] when the budget bill is reviewed [so you can state your objection then]."

When Razaei attempted to stand his ground, Bahonar rang the bell announcing the end of the open session. "Do you think if you keep raising your voice I will listen to you? Do you think you're shouting scares me? You're No. 18 on the list of lawmakers who have objections [warnings]," Bahonar said.

"You're not acting according to the law and acting however you like," Rezaie said back.

"You can do the same when you are boss [Speaker]," Bahonar said jokingly.

"I handed in my request to raise my objection," Razaie said. "This isn't a dictatorship."

This argument prompted Mohebinia, a member of the Majles presiding board, to interrupt the two men. "Control room broadcast a revolutionary song and resolve this dispute," he called out.

Rahnavard: No to Ahmadinejad, concessions

Gooya | Jan. 26, 2010

Though widely believed that Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement No. 17 was meant to be the opposition leader's acceptance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency, Zahra Rahnavard said in a recent interview that the couple will never recognize the Ahmadinejad administration.

In an interview with Rooz, Rahnavard rejected the notion that the leaders of the Green Movement had reached an agreement with the government behind closed doors.

"We do not recognize the Ahmadinejad government and we will not make concessions. We will demand the rights of the people with all sincerity," Rahnavard said. "We hold our heads up high and are prepared for bullets, attacks, or assassination."

Karroubi explains his Ahmadinejad stance

Tabnak | Jan. 26, 2010

Mehdi Karroubi explained today what he meant when he said he recognized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

"Yesterday as I was leaving the [Mardomsalary (Democracy) Party's] conference, a number of reporters asked me questions and I told them in response that after the endorsement ceremony, the current government is the government in power and thus responsible and answerable to the people's needs."

Arya quoted Karroubi as further expounding, "People have daily needs that the government in power must see to."

On Monday, Karroubi said that he recognized Ahmadinejad as the president.

Motahari: 22 Bahman will end all protests

Asr Iran | Jan. 26, 2010

Tehran's representative in Majlis Ali Motahari urged the opposition to participate in the 22 Bahman demonstration along with the rest of the nation to show Islamic maturity.

"The nation and the protesters must legally demonstrate alongside one another, our people must show their Islamic maturity in this [22 Bahman] demonstration. In my opinion, the opposition leaders must also participate in the demonstration with the rest of the Iranian authorities."

"I believe this [22 Bahman] demonstration should be used to secure unity and national reconciliation," Motahari said on Tuesday.

"While the crimes of rioters will have to be dealt with, we must try to use this year's 22 Bahman as a means to put an end to the recent incidents in the country."

Siemens says to reject new orders from Iran

Reuters | Jan. 26, 2010

German engineering conglomerate Siemens said on Tuesday it would reject any further orders from Iran as world powers consider imposing wider sanctions on Tehran over its disputed nuclear activity.

Germany, one of six countries seeking to persuade Iran to suspend its atomic work, is one of the biggest exporters to Iran despite three rounds of modest United Nations sanctions prompted by past Iranian evasions of U.N. nuclear monitoring.

Siemens, which is Europe's biggest engineering conglomerate, was aware of the sensitivities attached to doing business in Iran, Chief Executive Peter Loescher said.
"Some time ago, we reduced our business activities with customers in Iran," Loescher said, responding to questions at a shareholders meeting.

The Siemens board decided at the start of October not to agree to any further orders with customers in Iran, he added, noting, however, that existing orders would be fulfilled.

Iran Blames Germany for Protests

NYT | Jan. 27, 2010

ranian officials continued to cast blame for the nation's recent political crisis on foreign interference on Wednesday, focusing their ire for the first time on Germany, one of the country's closest trading partners, with an accusation that its diplomats and intelligence agents helped organize protests at the end of December.

The accusations followed stronger statements against Iran's nuclear program by German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who raised the scpecter of new international sanctions against Iran, and an announcement on Tuesday by the Munich-based engineering giant Siemens that it would seek no new business there.

"There is a long tradition of economic cooperation between Germany and Iran," Mrs. Merkel said Tuesday at a news conference with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, at the conclusion of his four-day visit. "But we believe it is only effective if you try to introduce international sanctions on as broad a base as possible."

EU wary on new Iran sanctions, waits for UN discussions

Monsters and Critics | Jan. 25, 2010

European Union foreign ministers on Monday backed away from threatening Iran with fresh sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, saying that the bloc should only bring in new restrictions if the United Nations Security Council asked.

The EU has already hit Iran with a range of sanctions, but these have not been enough to stop the program, leading some member states to question whether further punishment would have any effect.

"We need to see what comes out of the Security Council discussions and the role the members play and then return to the subject," the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told journalists in Brussels, after meeting with EU foreign ministers.

Sweden's Carl Bildt seemed to agree, as he spoke to the press before the talks with his counterparts. "The sanction instrument is a very blunt one, so it should be used with extreme care," he stated.

"Our aim is to get the Iranians to the negotiating table and have a political solution, and if there are any ... sanctions which can reinforce that possibility, I'm ready to look at them," Bildt added.

Iran to unveil missiles during anniversary

AFP | Jan. 26, 2010

A top commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday that the country's armed forces will unveil several missiles and weapons at the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution next month.

"Several missile and weapons projects will be unveiled during the '10 days of dawn' [February 1 to 11] by armed forces," Mehr News Agency quoted commander Massoud Jazayeri as saying.

Jazayeri's announcement came less than a week after Tehran said it will reveal three new satellites in February.

Communications Minister Reza Taghipour said the three home-built communications satellites were Toloo (Dawn), Ya Mahdi and Mesbah 2. He did not give a specific date for the launching.

Iran Melli Bank rejects bankruptcy rumors on

Mehr | Jan. 26, 2010

The financial manager of Bank Melli Iran (BMI) has refuted the rumors on declaring bankruptcy, saying that BMI is the largest bank in Iran and across the Islamic world, considering its total assets of around 54bn dollars.

After a recent decision by the Finance and Economic Affairs Ministry to ban the withdrawal of more than 150m rials (roughly15,000 dollars) per day, a rumor spread that two major Iranian banks [Melli and Mellat] were on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.

Fars: Mohtashamipour to be fired soon

Fararu | Jan. 26, 2010

Following the request of a group of lawmakers to remove Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour from his position as the head of the Committee for the Defense of the Palestinian people, his dismissal has become final and will be announced shortly.

Fars News Agency claimed that more than 140 lawmakers had demanded the dismissal of Mohtashamipour, which was decided on after deliberation, and that the news would be announced in the coming days.

It should be noted that the 140 lawmakers who demanded Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani dismiss Mohtashamipour based their request on his activities in the vote protection committee which was formed by the defeated candidates in the aftermath of Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election.

nf00087280-1.jpgOfficial: Ahmadinejad sacrificing everything for Mashai

Khabar Online | Jan. 26, 2010

The head of the clerical faction of Majlis advised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to part ways with the head of the presidential office Esfandyar Rahim Mashai before it was too late.

Hojjatoleslam Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar pointed to Mashai's meeting with an Iranian actresses at the presidential office and said, "Anyone with a bit of Principlist zeal will not approve of the lowly acts of the Head of the Presidential office [Mashai]. All Principlists especially the President's true supporters are ashamed that such a character is running the office of the president."

Rahbar criticized the $80,000 loan given by Mashai to actress Hedyeh Tehrani to hold her first photo exhibition. "I don't know what an actress's exhibition has to do with the head of the presidential office that he has to fund it with $80,000 from the treasury. These loans are handed out by him [Mashai] at a time when many farmers are struggling with repeated droughts and are starving. Yet the government refuses to give them a $1,000 loan."

"Unfortunately, the Sources of Emulations are very unhappy with Mr. Ahmadinejad due to the presence of such individuals [Mashai] in the government. In a recent trip to Qom with a number of cleric lawmakers, whenever we raised the issue of improving interaction between Majles and the Sources, a number of Sources criticized the cultural approaches of the government and said the lack of interaction would remain so long as these approaches are unchanged."

"Unfortunately Mr. Ahmadinejad has sacrificed the whole of the government and establishment for him [Mashai] and despite the heavy price of supporting Mashai for his government, he [Ahmadinejad] insists on it [supporting Mashai]."

"Mr. President have it out with Mr. Mashai. If you like him that much give him a responsibility that requires some reading so he will not [have the time to] interfere in things he should not."

Mashai defends himself, says photo with actress doctored

Khabar Online | Asr Iran | Fararu | Tabnak | Jan. 26, 2010

The secretary of the Cleric's Society of Tehran, Hojjatoleslam Jafar Shojouni said Esfandyar Rahim Mashai had attended the society's meeting and defended himself for over an hour.

"In the meeting, 171 clerics were present who asked their questions verbally or in writing. The majority of the attendees expressed their content with Mr. Mashai's answers."

Shojouni added that at the end of the meeting the majority of the attendees asked Mashai for forgiveness for the things they had said about him.

"But the question still remains about why he [Mashai] has to make such controversial remarks, forcing us to question him and him to answer us on the one hand and on the other hand allowing Reformist papers to wield his [Mashai's] remarks like a stick over our heads."

Regarding the controversy surrounding the nature of Mashai relationship with actress Hedyeh Tehrani, Shojouni said, "Rahim Mashai said he had gone to see Hedyeh Tehrani's exhibition and told Ms. Tehrani that her photographs are monotheistic [divine] and remind one of god and this caused Ms. Tehrani to cry and tell Mashai that you are the first person to say such a thing to me."

Regarding his picture with the well-known Iranian actress, Mashai said according to Shojouni, "Certain parties have mischievously used computer technology to reduce the distance between Ms. Tehrani and myself and I must say here that this picture has been doctored."

Shojouni said that he had told Mashai that 'people ask us if you are Shia or Sunni and which Source of Emulation you follow'.

"Mashai told me my source of emulation is Mr. Shojouni."

In the Shia tradition following a Source of Emulation is mandatory. Sources of Emulation are the highest order of Shia clergy. One can only become a Source after becoming an Ayatollah and writing a treatise containing his views and decrees on different religious issues.

A Hojjatoleslam cannot be referred to as a Source of Emulation.

Former Iranian official criticizes presidential aide's 'friendship' with pro-US figure

Jam-e-Jam | Jan. 26, 2010

The former head of president's inspection office called statements of some individuals about various issues such as the [prophet] Noah, a project for keeping the system busy and creating negligence among officials and the elite.

Davoud Ahmadinejad in an interview with Fars news said, "These individuals, with their statements that create doubts and distrust, have brought no benefit to the system, and if they think of the country's interest they should come forward and announce it."

He added, "The gentleman, who made such absurd statements, should give details about his services to the country in the cultural and spiritual sphere, in the struggle for the Revolution's victory, and against cultural attack and the recent unrests. He should explain where he was and what he did. Perhaps he will present his friendship with the American middleman, Houshang Amir Ahmadi as his proud accomplishment, just like some people experienced it and bore the consequences.

Ahmadinejad continued, "Which problems of the society would have been solved when he (Masha'i) says for example that Noah was not able to manage the society? He just wants to keep us busy for being negligent toward the great goal that Imam Khomeini has defined for us, which is guided by the leader of the revolution [Ali Khamene'i]. He is not after anything else."

Rafsanjani threatens to reveal Yazdi's past

Tabnak | Khabar Online | Jan. 26, 2010

Head of the Expediency Council and Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani threatened Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi with revealing his past.

Rafsanjani met with a group of professors of political sciences from Qom universities on Tuesday.

When asked the reason behind the attacks on him by figures such as Ayatollah Yazdi, Rafsanjani said, "The most import reason is my position on the importance of defending the rights of the people, defending the Leader [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei], and avoiding extremism."

"Regarding Mr. Yazdi's recent remarks, as I have said before my response to his angry and resentful words was only a 'hello,' but given his remarks yesterday, and the information given to me, this time I sense a conspiracy. I will soon release written information about his behavior during the lifetime of Imam [Khomeini], in the meeting to choose a new leader after the Imam's death, and in the judiciary."

Iran seeks US extraditions over scientist killing

Reuters | Jan. 26, 2010

Iran called on the United States on Tuesday to extradite members of a "terrorist group" which the Islamic Republic has linked to this month's killing of a university scientist in Tehran.

Iranian officials have blamed both Israel and the United States for the Jan. 12 bomb attack that killed professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi. Washington has dismissed the charge of U.S. involvement as absurd.

Some Iranian media have also reported that a Western-based pro-monarchy group claimed responsibility for the attack, but have not said how they knew this.

On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast named the group as Tondar (Thunder), without giving details. He said the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Monday.

Interior minister: No decision to relocate capital

Khabar Online | Jan. 26, 2010

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najar said that there are no plans to relocate the Iranian capital.

"Presently the population of Tehran is too high. To reduce the population of Tehran we must promote other provinces and offer enticements for the people living outside Tehran," he said. "Up to now there has been no talk of relocating the capital and there have only been some studies on relocating political centers."

The interior minister added that in case of an emergency the capital would be transferred to Isfahan. "If there is ever an emergency [in Tehran] five cities have been chosen as the possible location for the new capital and the city of Isfahan will replace Tehran."

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