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08 Mar 2010 23:272 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. You can follow our
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Mortazavi, Karroubi exchange pleasantries

Tabnak | March 8, 2010

A cordial encounter and exchange of pleasantries between opposition cleric Mehdi Karroubi and Judge Saeed Mortazavi surprised attendees of a memorial ceremony in Tehran.

On Saturday afternoon, Karroubi and Mortazavi attended a memorial service held in the Nour Mosque in Tehran's Fatemi Square. Those present were extremely surprised to see Karroubi and Mortazavi kiss and warmly exchange pleasantries.

In an open letter not too long ago, Mehdi Karroubi accused the Islamic Republic of failing to take appropriate precautions to prevent jail rapes and the [kind of] atrocities that took place in the substandard Kahrizak Detention Center.

The Majlis truth-finding committee concluded its report by naming Mortazavi as the main suspect in the Kahrizak case.

Tehran Prosecutor: Peaceful protesters not rioters

Khabar Online | March 8, 2010

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said a critic who participates in protests without committing a crime cannot be considered a rioter.

"A critic who speaks and writes articles and participates in calm protests without vandalism and commits no crime and is not considered a rioter," he said.

He went on to describe rioting as inciting people to riot along with arson and vandalism. "Rioting is accompanied by committing crimes and its methods are also criminal," he explained.

"There is a clear distinction between criticism and revenge. When protesting there is no crime committed but rioting is coupled with crime and a prosecutor's job is to prevent rioting and [then] fighting it.... Society and media have the right to criticize and this is one of the responsibilities of media."

Ashura detainee's lawyer says client's death sentence unconfirmed

Tabnak | March 6, 2010

Mohammad Amin Valian's lawyer rejected reports carried by a number of websites claiming his client's death sentence had been passed.

"Mohammad Amin Valian was sentenced by branch 15 of the Revolution Court to death and some websites reported that the initial court's verdict had been approved by the appeals court," Seyyed Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei told ISNA.

"Upon referring to branch 15 of the Revolution Court, I was informed that my client's case has not yet been sent to the appeals court."

Nejabat: Supreme Leader should not be dragged into disputes

Tabnak | March 6, 2010

A Tehran representative in Majlis said the Supreme Leader was an independent figure who should not be dragged into internal political disputes.

When asked by ILNA his opinion about certain officials pinning the responsibility for their actions on the Supreme Leader, Hossein Nejabat said, "This action is unacceptable on all levels because the Supreme Leader is an independent figure and dragging him into certain internal political disputes is a theoretic error made by certain individuals."

The member of the Majlis Energy Commission added, "In the Islamic Republic of Iran there are two focal points: One religious sovereignty and the other the majority vote of the people. Whichever one is harmed, the Islamic Republic will suffer harm."

"Anyone who hurts the path of the Imam [Khomeini] and the position of the Leadership is against the foundation of religious sovereignty."

Nejabat said those who sabotage the position of the Leader and the path of the Imam are the main enemies of religion.

Mousavi's chief of staff released on bail

Tabnak | March 8, 2010

Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief of staff was released on bail two months after he was arrested.

According to the Kalameh report, Mehdi Forouzandeh, who was Mousavi's chief of staff at the Academy of Persian Language and Literature (Farhangestan), was detained on Dec. 28, 2009.

Forouzandeh is also a former employee of the Iranian President's office.

Why Persian Language Academy objected to police name change

Tabnak | March 6, 2010

An official with the Academy of Persian Language and Literature (Farhangestan) said the reason why the police name change did not go through was that "pas var" could be pronounced "pasour."

"Replacing the word 'police' with 'pas var' was not proposed by the academy. One of the branches of the Armed Forces main command was pursuing this matter and made the announcement about the name change. They did inform the academy prior to making their announcement," ISNA quoted Nasrin Parvizi as saying.

"The chosen word can be easily misread and might be pronounced 'pasour' (in Persian: deck of cards). They [police officials] thought it [pas var] was a good choice and announced it."

The police announcement about the cancellation of the name change noted that the Academy had sent a letter to the Leader and raised objections, which led Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to order an end to the name change.

Majlis to probe ban on Reformist Etemad, Iran Dokht

Asr Iran | March 6, 2010

The deputy head of the Majlis cultural commission said parliament would be reviewing the ban on Etemad daily and Iran Dokht weekly with representatives from the Judiciary and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

"We must look into the reasons why newspapers are closed, and we must see if it was because they crossed the line and broke the law or whether it was motivated by other reasons," Javad Aryanmanesh told ILNA.

"The ban on Etemad and Iran Dokht needed close investigation," he added, stressing that media bans should be avoided through giving guidance, issuing warnings and offering direction.

"In the media jury, members from the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) are present. A representative of the media is also present. If the council makes a decision, we must respect the law. But banning [media] without a reason is something no one will stand for," he said.

Naderan: Faezeh Hashemi's remarks enough to jail her, Mehdi can be extradited

Asr Iran | March 6, 2010

Principlist lawmaker Elyas Naderan said Faezeh Hashemi's comments were enough to put her behind bars.

He added that a transcript of Faezeh's remarks about the Iranian establishment has been sent to Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. "If her remarks are published it will be enough to draft her indictment," he said.

According to the Fars News Agency, the Tehran representative in Majlis said that Mehdi Hashemi could be extradited.

"In comparison to some of the criminals currently awaiting for their trial in prison, he [Mehdi Hashemi] has not committed lesser crimes. The difference is that some of those now in prison are not related to the higher ups. Otherwise, there is no difference between their crimes and his," he said.

Nadern expressed discontent with the Judiciary's procrastination in bringing the Hashemi children to justice and said the judiciary chief should be questioned about this shortcoming.

Regarding Mehdi Hashemi's claim of pursuing higher education in the UK, Naderan said, "Getting a doctorate is not incompatible with being tried and held answerable to the people."

Rigi planned Assalouyeh bombing after Kyrgyzstan trip

Tabnak Khabar Online | March 6, 2010

The IRGC-affiliated Jahan website claimed that notorious Jondollah ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi has confessed to plans for an American-approved bombing in Assalouyeh.

The report stated that Rigi, in his latest confession, said that he had coordinated with the Americans to carry out a bombing in Assalouyeh after his trip to Kyrgyzstan.

According to Jahan, five Wahhabi missionaries were arrested upon attempting to illegally exit Iran at the same time that Rigi made his recent confessions.

The Wahhabi missionaries were involved in recruiting and training members for the Jondollah terrorist cell.

Shahid Beheshti dean: What segregation?

Asr Iran | March 6, 2010

The Dean of the Shahid Beheshti University rejected rumors that his school had started segregating classes.

Reports have recently surfaced claiming that Shahid Beheshti students were forced to sit at opposite ends of the class depending on their gender and that university entrances were also designated by gender.

"I am the dean of Shahid Beheshti University and when I have no knowledge about this, how can a gender segregation plan have been implemented?" he said.

"It is strange that these issues are brought up without even the slightest consultation with officials," he told Mehr News Agency.

Media frenzy over Shariatmadari's health

Farau | Tabnak | March 8, 2010

Authorities today rejected reports by pro-government, pro-Mashai websites which earlier claimed that Hossein Shariatmadari was suffering from terminal esophageal cancer and would possibly not make it to the Persian New Year.

"Unfortunately Mr. Shariatmadari is suffering from esophageal cancer and there is a possibility that this loyal friend of the establishment will not be alive in the coming [solar] year," Haqiqat news reported, quoting an unnamed member of Shariatmadari's medical team.

The unnamed doctor added, "Mr. Shariatmadari's medical team has done everything in their power but his condition is not good and now the Iranian nation must pray for Mr. Shariatmadari."

However, Serat News reported that "Hossein Shariatmadari who had been hospitalized last night was discharged from Baqiyatollah Hospital before noon."

Authorities at Baqiyatallah Hospital rejected that Shariatmadari's health was declining. They told Farda that Shariatmadari had been discharged from the hospital in good health and without any need for medical attention.

Meanwhile, Serat News said Shariatmadari had been hospitalized due to "abdominal swelling."

A source close to Shariatmadari told Serat News that "his health is fine and he is now writing the 'Goft-o-Shenood' column of Kayhan."

Shariatmadari: I'm well, I was discharged

Parleman | March 8, 2010

Kayhan editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari rejected reports that he was terminally ill and said the state of his health was not important enough to constitute news.

"I am not a person important enough to have my health or poor health reported in media as news," Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.

"This is what happened: I went to the hospital yesterday to receive treatment and doctors told me my ailment was caused by a lack of rest and overworking myself. With God's grace I was discharged from the hospital today and I am now taking care of my daily business at the [Kayhan] institute."

He went on to add that he had chosen his headline and written and filed for print his daily column from the hospital. Shariatmadari addressed counterrevolutionary groups by stating that life and death was in the hands of God and it was He who decides who lives and who dies.

Shariatmadari described his health as excellent.

Tamadon talks of banning Persian traditions, says TU dorm suspects

Tabnak | March 8, 2010

Tehran governor Morteza Tamadon said the main suspects in the attack on the Tehran University Dormitory had been identified and their names passed on to the country's security officials.

"Based on the ruling of the Council of Appropriating Authority, during the entire period of riots and unrest in Tehran, civil and security forces were prohibited from entering universities and deans of universities were in charge of maintaining calm in the institutions under their supervision," Tamdon said on Monday.

"If university authorities were incapable of calming down the atmosphere of the university, they were permitted to seek help from security and civil forces. However, fortunately, we never received reports of such a request being made during the unrest.

He added that ".... 1,000 of the victims of the post-election unrest who had sustained financial damages or lost their lives were identified and located and remedied in part for their losses and their families were consoled."

Tamadon rejected the ancient fire festival held on the last Wednesday of the Persian year known as Chaharshanbeh Souri.

"Tradition showcases the beauties of a culture and the fire-ritual offers nothing but ugliness, fear and worry."

"The government and the police will not allow the last Wednesday of the Persian year to be full of worry and stress for people and to this end security forces in Tehran have arrested 500 producers, sellers and smugglers dealing with flammable substances."

"With decisive action, we will try to wipe the problem called 'Chahar Shanbeh Souri' from the mind of society within the next two years."

Police trainer: Iran not to blame for high price of drugs

Tabnak | March 6, 2010

A teacher at the police academy said Afghans believe their drug abusers became addicts in Iran.

"Afghans say the drug users living in their country became addicts after immigrating to Iran and returning to Afghanistan," Brigadier General Maleki said on a panel discussion on the production and trafficking of drugs, citing Afghanistan's one million drug addicts.

He said there had been a 7 percent reduction in the number of drug busts. "This is while in recent years the price of narcotics has increased by 15 to 20 percent, which Iran is not to blame for. Rather, U.S. attacks on Helmand Province resulted in the hurried transfer of drug consignments to border areas and this in turn... increased the price of drugs."

He went on to add that over the past 30 years, Afghan officials had not once cooperated in preventing the trafficking of illegal drugs from Afghanistan to Iran.

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Tehran governor Morteza Tamadon said the main suspects in the attack on the Tehran University Dormitory had been identified and their names passed on to the country's security officials.

"Based on the ruling of the Council of Appropriating Authority, during the entire period of riots and unrest in Tehran, civil and security forces were prohibited from entering universities and deans of universities were in charge of maintaining calm in the institutions under their supervision," Tamdon said on Monday.

"If university authorities were incapable of calming down the atmosphere of the university, they were permitted to seek help from security and civil forces. However, fortunately, we never received reports of such a request being made during the unrest...."

- An attack on the Tehran University Dormitory had happened before, in 1999, as described below. The resulting question is:
Were not only the events, but also the perpetrators of the attack and of the atrocities identical then back in 1999 and now ten years later in 2009?
If so, then some more questions - in particular those arising from Morteza Tamadon's (i.e. Tehran governor's) report - seem to be answered sufficiently as well. -


Here the account with the emphasis laid on the perpetrators:


»Ansar-i Hizbullah / Followers of the Party of God

Ansar-i hizbullah, the followers of the party of God, (also known as Ansar-i Hezbollah or Ansar-e Hezbollah), is a semi-official, paramilitary organization in Iran which carries out attacks on those whom it perceives to be violating the precepts of Islam, such as women wearing makeup, reformist protestors, and unmarried couples.

This clandestine organization took its formal name in 1992. However, its origins date back to the street gangs of the urban poor, called "Hezbollah" (Party of God), organized by various forces in the Islamic Republic regime during the revolution of 1979. Most of the members of Ansar-i Hizbullah either belong to the Basij militia or are veterans of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) who believed that they must continue fighting for the integrity of Islam. They realize their vision through physical intimidation of those whom they view as the enemies of Ayatollah Khameini and Islam. They are known to break up demonstrations against the government, assault people in western dress, and raid shops that sell forbidden items. They have also been accused by some of politically-based assassinations.

Ansar-i Hizbullah became more prominent after it attacked student dormitories at Tehran University in July of 1999. This attack was in response to a peaceful student protest on July 8th concerning further restrictions on the press. In concert with police, members of Ansar-i Hizbullah chased and beat the students back to their dorms. At the end of the morning, two students were dead and twenty were hospitalized. When the newspapers reported these attacks, protests lasting five days spread to 13-18 other cities in Iran.

The Iranian government has chosen to tacitly support groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah because they both aim to maintain the conservative status quo in Iran. Senior conservative clerics use gangs like Ansar-i Hizbullah as a way to consolidate their power and harass and/or eliminate their enemies. Therefore, Ansar-i Hizbullah enjoys a semi-official status; while they are not officially a part of the government, they complement the Iranian government's existing intelligence and security apparatus. Many senior clerics have been associated with Ansar-i Hizbullah and are thought to finance it. Additional evidence of its favorable status lies in the fact that during its 1999 attack on Tehran University, its members used 1000cc-engine motorcycles, which only security service members are allowed to possess.

Thus, the Iranian government is behaving in a manner similar to Maoist China when it channeled youthful nationalists into Red Guard gangs which would assault the government's purported enemies. Like these Red Guards, Ansar-i Hizbullah wishes to make the revolution permanent by assaulting those who advance an agenda of change.

The Iranian government, confronted with internal calls for reform, enacted a compromise by not performing a massive military crackdown on the dissidents, but rather letting militant groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah prevent the movement from spreading further.

While paramilitary groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah are currently useful in extending the government's control over its citizens, they also pose a threat to the government. First, the Iranian government must keep these groups on a tight leash or they may become powerful enough to challenge the government for political power. Second, if the government ever decides to institute any reforms, groups like Ansar-i Hizbullah may violently oppose any such actions and create instability and unrest.

Ansar-i Hizbullah has succeeded in quieting many of its political opponents through its intimidating tactics. Nonetheless, its recent violent acts may be a portent that they, along with their conservative backers, are losing power in Iran - Ansar-i Hizbullah would not be committing these acts of violence if there were no signs of modernization to confront.«


Source:
Website of GlobalSecurity.org – page last modified 26th April, 2005

http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/iran/ansar.htm


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