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14 Mar 2010 21:13No 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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IRNA bans picture reports featuring Rafsanjani

Tabnak | March 14, 2010

An informed source in the Islamic Republic News Agency told the Shafaf website that Abdolreza Davari, the deputy head of IRNA, has issued a directive banning the use of any photos of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Earlier, Davari gained notoriety in the press for banning the use of the title "Ayatollah" in reference to Rafsanjani, who is the head of the Expediency Council and Assembly of Experts.

According to the report, in the March 8 directive called "The Directive banning the publication of photos of the head of the Expediency Council," IRNA directors were told: "Henceforth publishing pictorial reports featuring the events participated by Hojjatoleslam Hashemi Rafsanjani, the honorable head of the Expediency Council, are announced forbidden. The exceptions to this directive will be communicated to departments by the news deputy [Davari]."

Khamenei tells Iranians to shun fire festival

AFP | March 14, 2010

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday urged Iranians to shun next week's Persian fire festival as an un-Islamic event which causes "a lot of harm."

Charshanbe Soori, an ancient pagan festival, is held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Persian calendar year. This year, the ritual falls on the night of March 16.

Khamenei, Iran's all-powerful cleric, said on his website that Charshanbe Soori has "no basis in sharia (Islamic religious law) and creates a lot of harm and corruption, (which is why) it is appropriate to avoid it."

The festival is a prelude to Nowrouz, the Persian New Year which starts on March 21 and marks the arrival of spring.

In the past few years, local municipalities have helped Iranians organize the festival but it is unclear whether they will do so this year in the wake of Khamenei's remarks.

Grand Ayatollah urges police to ensure faith in Iranians

Tabnak | March 13, 2010

Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani said the police must help preserve the foundation of the people's faith.

"The police force must help protect the foundation of the people's faith and crack down on gatherings trying to convert people to Christianity, Bahaism, Wahhabism and Sufism ... all sicknesses of the mind, stem from these gatherings, they are corrupt and are the main cause of disruption in the country's security," ISNA quoted him as saying.

"Serving the path of security deserves reward in the eyes of God. Security has many different aspects and establishing each one is important. Security includes financial, moral and mental security of which mental security comes first. Mental security means that you [police officers] will do something so that holding gatherings that cause the mental corruption of the people will no longer be possible."

Regarding moral security, the Shia Source said, "Poverty is rampant among the people and the majority of people suffer from poverty. When our boys and girls come of age, they want a life [to get married] and this is why social decadence increases by the day. Your duty is to prevent the spread of social and moral decadence and God willing through your efforts this problem will be eradicated in Qom."

Iran sentences female reformist to three years in prison

ILNA | March 13, 2010

The lawyer of Azar Mansouri, the political deputy of the Participation Front Party, has said that Bench 28 of the Revolution Court sentenced his client to three years in prison.

In an interview with the ILNA, Mohammad Reza Faqihi referred to the latest situation of Azar Mansouri's case and said, "After the preliminary investigation was carried out, a bill of indictment was issued for my client. The case was then referred to Bench 28 of the Revolution Court. The court studied the charges against the political deputy of the Participation Front Party and sentenced her to three years in prison."

The lawyer of Mansouri added: "After the preliminary court issued the sentence, I filed an appeal within the legal deadline. The case was then referred to the appeals court but no hearing session has been announced yet."

He said that Azar Mansuri has been charged with disturbing public order through participating in gatherings, propagating against the system, spreading lies aimed at agitating public opinion, gathering and plotting to disrupt national security. He said, "Examining the charges, Bench 28 of the Revolution Court has sentenced Mansuri to three year in prison because of gathering and plotting to disturb national security."

Iran arrests 30 over 'US-backed cyber war networks'

IRNA | March 13, 2010

In a statement, Tehran's Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office said that a number of organized US-backed war networks have been broken in the country, and 30 people have been arrested in connection with this.

The statement was received by IRNA on Saturday evening. It said, "With the help of God the almighty, as a result of the hard efforts of security officers and revolutionary people, a number of important organized networks of the US cyber war, which were operated by anti-revolutionary groups in Iran, were discovered."

The statement noted that the CIA in 2006 allocated a budget of $400 million for a plan to destabilize Iran, and that elements of anti-revolutionary groups such as the MKO, monarchists and others were employed.

In this direction, a network dubbed as the "Iran Proxy" was established by the CIA under the cover of the IBB bureau in the US State Department and a budget of $50 million was allocated to it.

Gaining access to Iran's information banks, penetration and sabotage of Iran's internet sites, combating against filtering in the country, creating security for internet users, creating a secure telephone and data communications lines for giving interviews to Radio Farda, Radio Zamaneh, Voice of America and other western media were among the missions of the network, the statement said.

Iran temporarily releases Iranian-American scholar

AFP | March 14, 2010

Iran has temporarily released an Iranian-American scholar serving prison time on an espionage conviction so he can spend the Iranian New Year holiday with his family, officials said Sunday.

Kian Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, was the only American detained in the crackdown that crushed giant street protests by hundreds of thousands of people after June's disputed presidential election.

Iran traditionally releases some prisoners during the New Year holiday. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said Tajbakhsh was released Saturday on $800,000 bail for 15 days, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. The terms of the release do not allow him to leave the country.

Iranian MPs want secularism advocates out of universities

ILNA | March 13, 2010

Up to 130 Iranian parliamentarians have called for strict action to be taken against proponents of secularism in universities throughout the country.

The lawmakers made the call in a letter signed and addressed to Kamran Daneshjou, the Minister of Science, Research and Technology.

The MPs warned Daneshjou of the activities that were carried out in universities by "certain individuals who are hostile toward the Islamic system."

"The cultural message of the Islamic Revolution is the most important topic that university professors and the elite must seek to promote," IRNA cited the letter as saying.

"Activities of individuals, who feel enmity toward the Islamic establishment, are unacceptable. What is more, nowhere in the world are resources and opportunities generously handed out to those who seek to bring down the establishment and the principles that society is governed by," added the lawmakers.

GC spokesman to photographers: Make sure the flag comes out Green

Khabar Online | March 13, 2010

The Guardian Council spokesman made light of the recent controversy surrounding the changes made in the green color of the Iranian flag in official state ceremonies.

On Saturday morning, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai used a question posed to him by one of the reporters about the modification of the color of the flag as an opportunity to jest with reporters and photographers.

Addressing photographers, Kadkhodai, who was posing in front of the Iranian flag for a group picture with reporters on the occasion of the upcoming Persian New Year, said, "Take your pictures in a way that the [top of the] flag stays green."

This caused one of the reporters to respond, "Mr. Kadkhodai, you are not trying to change the color of the flag. You should say something to those people trying to do so."

Kadkhodayi: GC can probe flag color change after receiving report

Khabar Online | March 13, 2010

The Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai said the council would probe modifications to the color of the Iranian flag upon receiving a report based on evidence.

When asked about the changes in the green color of the flag in official state ceremonies, Kadkhodai said, "Executive matters are not within our [the GC] authority. The framework set by the law for every organization is binding and must be operated within and if what you say is true you must ask the guilty organization about it."

When the reporter insisted on receiving an answer on the matter, Kadkhodai said, "If it is sent to us as a document we [GC] will look into it."

Turning to the post-election incidents in the country, Kadkhodai said, "We must all learn from past incidents and fix the problems."

"We must try to move within the framework of the law and regulations," he said. In response to a question about the electoral policies reviewed in the Expediency Council and the National Election Commission, Kadkhodai said, "I have already answered this question before. We have announced that we welcome any modifications to the electoral law but only if it is within the framework of the law."

"[Regarding] the topics being discussed these days, which the Supreme Leader also touched upon, it must be stressed that all the organs of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran will without a doubt work within the framework of the law."

"The unreasonable remarks made by the Expediency Council and other organizations affiliated to it showed that the EC was not working within the framework of the law."

Guardian council welcomes reforms in election laws

ILNA | March 13, 2010

The Guardian Council welcomes any reform to election laws, its spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai said.

Responding to a question about possible changes to election laws and a stronger presence of the election committee in the Expediency Council, the spokesman said, ''The organization welcomes any changes within the framework and regulations of the Islamic Republic. The Supreme Leader has previously underscored the issue as well.''

Speaking in a press conference, Kadkhodai added, ''The Expediency Council reviews the general policies governing elections. Legislation will be offered to the Supreme Leader for approval.''

Iran former minister says protests should be within law

Mehr | March 13, 2010

Eshaq Jahangiri, a co-founder and senior member of the reformist Servants of Construction Party, says protests should be expressed within a legal framework.

"Protest should be done within the framework of law; we can settle disputes (over the presidential elections) through legal mechanisms," he told the Mehr News Agency.

"It was not [just] the last election. Next year we will have another election, (and) I hope that the effort undertaken by the Expediency Council (to revise the mechanisms for holding elections) will yield good [results]," the former industry minister said.

Asked about the current activities of the Servants of Construction Party, he replied that in the current political climate, most of the parties have halted their activities and the Servants of Construction Party was no exception.

"The post-election incidents have raised the stakes for political activity in the country," he said. "The parties that have been formed within the framework of the system did not expect to pay high prices for conducting political campaigns in the country."

Javan says Mousavi, Karroubi boycotted Tajik

Khabar Online | March 13, 2010

The Javan website claimed that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have boycotted Mohammad-Reza Tajik for criticizing the Reformists after his release.

The IRGC-affiliated website reported that while Mousavi and Karroubi have visited most of the released Reformist prisoners, they have not met Tajik, who was Mousavi's top aide.

On Feb. 9, Tajik criticized the opposition leaders on an IRIB2 debate program and censured the post-election incidents.

MP warns about hasty ratification of annual budget

Mehr | March 13, 2010

The Majlis Research Center director cautioned against a hasty ratification of next year's budget.

A rush to ratify the annual budget should not prevent advocates and opponents from expressing their views, Ahmad Tavakoli stated on Saturday.

The Persian calendar year starts on March 21.

In response to Tavakoli's comments, Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said, "We will listen to as many proponent and opponent views as we can."

Tavakoli is a vocal critic of the current administration's economic policies, and has predicted that the economic growth for the next year will be negative or close to zero.

Official: Iran gas exports hit 6.8b cubic meters

Mehr | March 13, 2010

Iran exported 6.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the current Iranian calendar year (to end 19 March 2010), according to the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company.

The Islamic Republic of Iran News Network quoted Javad Owji as saying that, "This is an unprecedented figure."

"Iran gas exports faced 43.8 percent increase in comparison to the previous," he added.

Noting that 54 power plants consume gas, Owji said, "On average, 422 million cubic meters per day of gas was consumed in the current year which is 10 percent more than the year before."

Iran MP calls for increase in parliamentary supervision over oil industry

Mehr | March 13, 2010

MP Ali Banai has said that the Majlis should exercise more supervision over the country's oil industry.

"Consequently, the Oil Ministry would be obliged to present a monthly report to parliament," Banai told the Mehr News Agency on Saturday.

"According to Article 53 of the Constitution, the administration is required to deposit all revenues in the treasury, and thus the Oil Ministry is obligated to deposit all its revenues in the treasury," he stated.

Asked whether the National Iranian Oil Company statute should be revised, Banai said, "It is necessary that the statute of the National Iranian Oil Company be devised in a way that the Oil Ministry could exercise its sovereign control over the areas of oil, gas, and petrochemicals and that the national oil, gas, and petrochemical companies would actually be placed under the ministry's supervision."

Minister says Iran, Algeria to boost economic ties

IRNA | March 13, 2010

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said Saturday that an Iran-Algeria Joint Commission has been promoted to a high commission in a bid to increase bilateral ties.

In a meeting with the Algerian ambassador to Iran, Soufiane Mimouni referred to the ancient cultural, political and revolutionary commonalities between the two countries and said that the geographical locations of the two states in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea and the determination of their leaders could serve as a basis for developing bilateral relations.

"Iran has much experience in training police, confronting natural disasters as well as urban management and is ready to make them available to Algeria," the Iranian Interior Ministry's website quoted him as saying.

Pakistani scientist Khan describes Iranian efforts to buy nuclear bombs

Wapo | March 14, 2010

The father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program has written an official account that details an Iranian attempt to buy atomic bombs from Pakistan at the end of the 1980s.

Bombmaker Abdul Qadeer Khan states in documents obtained by The Washington Post that in lieu of weapons, Pakistan gave Iran bomb-related drawings, parts for centrifuges to purify uranium and a secret worldwide list of suppliers. Iran's centrifuges, which are viewed as building blocks for a nuclear arsenal, are largely based on models and designs obtained from Pakistan.

Khan's narrative calls into question Iran's long-standing stance that it has not sought nuclear arms. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last month that "we won't do that because we don't believe in having them."

The account also conflicts with the Pakistani government's assertion that Khan proliferated nuclear know-how without government approval.

Pakistan has never disclosed Khan's written account. A summary of interrogations of Khan and four others in 2004, conducted by Pakistan's intelligence service and later provided to U.S. and allied intelligence officials, omitted mention of the attempt to buy a nuclear bomb. But Pakistan's former top military official in 2006 publicly hinted at it.

In interviews, two military officers whom Khan links to the bargaining with Iran denied that finished nuclear weapons were ever on the table. Spokesmen for Iran's mission to the United Nations and the Pakistani Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests to comment.

US sees Saudi, UAE willingness to push Iran sanctions

Reuters | March 11, 2010

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appear willing to use their clout with Russia and China to appeal for Iran sanctions, but there is less need with Russia, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday.

"I have a sense that there is a willingness to do that," Gates told reporters, following talks in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi over the past two days. "Although there is less need with respect to Russia, because I think Russia is pretty much already there. It's mainly China."

U.N. must stand up for rights of Iranians

CNN | March 13, 2010

Iranian citizens who support peaceful change that will allow them to enjoy their human rights expect the international community, and in particular the United Nations, to hold the Islamic Republic to account.

The new session of the U.N. Human Rights Council began on March 1. A failure of the world's most influential human rights body to deal with the abuse of human rights in Iran will be interpreted by Tehran as a green light for the government's brutal policies that could result in more executions of political prisoners.

Scores of peaceful demonstrators have been killed on the streets or in prison since the disputed June 2009 presidential elections.

Four political prisoners have been executed and others, including 20-year-old Mohammad Amin Valian, who has been convicted of "enmity against God" for throwing rocks at a demonstration, face death penalties. More than 1,000 Iranians are behind bars for expressing their political views. Leading politicians and clerics are calling for the harshest sentences for more of these prisoners.

In February, Iran's human rights record was examined under the Universal Periodic Review procedure. A number of U.N. members expressed deep concern about post-election abuses and chronic problems such as torture, the execution of juvenile offenders and discrimination against women.

Expert says sex culprit behind 50% of divorces in Iran

Khabar Online | March 13, 2010

A marriage expert attributed 50 percent of all divorces in Iran to a lack of proper sex education prior to marriage.

Dr. Ahmad Borjali, a professor at Allameh Tabatabaei University, pointed to the growing trend of divorce in the country since 2005-2006 and said, "Currently the divorce average stands at 33.3 percent in the country and this rate is 22.3 percent in Tehran, which does not include emotional divorce [separation] in the country."

"Many experts believe the rate of emotional divorce is twice the rate of divorce in the country and this means that the rate of emotional divorce in the country has passed 50 percent in the country since 2005-2006," ISNA quoted him as saying.

He went on to add that in the first nine months of the current Iranian year ending March 21st, 93,000 divorces had been registered in the country and said that this rate was 81,000 in the same period last year.

"The period from when differences first show their face until [they become irreconcilable] differences has gone down from five years to three, which is very alarming."

"Fifty percent of all divorces in the country are over sexual matters and this shows the importance of [sexual] education before marriage. "

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