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10 Apr 2010 00:23No 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 news feeds on Twitter.

rahimi+ahmadinejad.jpgAhmadinejad government sues Rahimi's main critic

Tabnak | April 10, 2010

The Iranian president's legal deputy announced that an official complaint has been lodged against Principlist lawmaker Elias Naderan, who recently accused the first vice president of widespread financial corruption.

"This complaint has been lodged with the government employees' court," Fatemeh Bodaghi was quoted as saying by ISNA.

Ahmadinejad advisor: Accusing Rahimi aimed at undermining government

Tabnak | April 9, 2010

Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, a top advisor to Ahmadinejad, reacted strongly to allegations made by Principlist lawmaker Elias Naderan against first vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi.

"Every one of the members of the government is against corruption and dishonesty," ILNA quoted him as saying in West Azarbaijan on Friday. "Mr. Rahimi himself has announced that if any corruption is discovered, the hand of the corrupt [official] must be cut off."

Samareh-Hashemi said making allegations against government officials was aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the government. "The prosecutor general and the judiciary must prosecute those who make insults and accusations," he said.

Rahimi: 'I am the Guardian of Public Assets'

Rooz Online | April 8, 2010

Just a day after a Majles ideologue charged vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi with running an extensive economic corruption gang, the accused distributed a circular to all government agencies calling on them to fight economic corruption. In a follow-up interview, he called those who had leveled accusations against him to be 'spreaders of slander' who did not deserve a response.

In his circular to government agencies, Rahimi, who is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first vice president, called on all public and non-government agencies to fight economic corruption. In his interview, Rahimi referred to some of the 20 charges of alleged fraud leveled against him, including misusing a professional position, accepting or paying out bribes, blackmail, misusing legal provisions and covering up violations and preventing the administration of justice. In his interview, Rahimi went beyond his own defense and said that he was in fact the "guardian" of public property.

Rahimi is the most senior official in the executive branch, second only to Ahmadinejad. He is not new to controversy and this time it was MP Elias Naderan who launched an expose of the vice president and said that Rahimi was the ring-leader of the largest economic corruption band in the country. The lawmaker said that almost all members of this gang on Tehran's Fatemi Avenue had been arrested, except "the current vice-president."

Last week, law enforcement officers arrested a large group of individuals on Fatemi Avenue and charged them with economic and financial fraud.

Naderan was supported by other Majles deputies Ahmad Tavakoli and Ali-Reza Zakani, both Principalists, a fraction that has traditionally supported Ahmadinejad.

MP: Majles-Govt committee lacks authority

Khabar Online | April 9, 2010

Seyyed Kazem Delkhoush, member of the Majles Economic Commission, said the meetings of the joint Majles-Government committee have no official status.

"Lawmakers do not acknowledge the authority of the joint Majles-government committee and the issues pertaining to the implementation of this law must be discussed in the joint committee and the result discussed in Majles sessions," Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.

"The formation of this joint committee was based on friendship and intended for consultation and the exchanging of views between Majles and government," he said. "Aside from lacking authority it also lacks the ability to resolve existing problems."

Shojouni: I told Ahmadinejad don't think that we are in love with you

Asr Iran | April 9, 2010

The Secretary General of the Preachers Society said he told Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he should not think people are supporting him out of love.

"After the election, I told Mr. Ahmadinejad in a meeting that our respect for you is because of your revolutionary slogans and the support of the Supreme Leader for you, so don't think that we are in love with you," said Hojjatoleslam Shojouni.

Regarding the criticism directed at the government, Shojouni said, "No matter what objection you raise to whatever part of the government it will be a minor objection."

When asked why he overlooked the mistakes of the government, Shojouni said, "Finding fault with the government will not solve your problem or the country's problem. Our dispute is over the principles. A group wants to overthrow the principle of the establishment using the royalists and the Bahais, or else this government only has minor mistakes. "

"We invited Mr. [Esfandyar Rahim] Mashai and raised 50 problematic issues with him. It is not true that we never talk about the government's mistakes. How could you know how many letters I have written to the government since yesterday about its mistakes?"

Regarding the problems that some of the president's cohorts have, Shojouni said, "There are problems in all governments. Even in the Hidden Imam's government there will be some who will commit thievery. So we cannot say that even when a clean government comes to power a thief should not steal. The devil will not remain idle. This is a wrong expectation."

Ayatollah Sadoughi's grave desecrated in Yazd

Tabnak | April 9, 2010

The resting place of the martyred Ayatollah Sadoughi was desecrated in Yazd, for the first time in 28 years.

The incident comes less than a week since someone desecrated the grave of the late Ayatollah Rouhollah Khatami.

According to Khabar Online, unknown individuals splashed paint on the tombstone of Ayatollah Sadoughi, which is located inside the Hazeereh Mosque in Yazd.

The desecration of Ayatollah Khatami's grave was severely condemned by religious groups. However, some Principlists in the media alleged that a Reformist was responsible for the act.

Iran: Intelligence Agents Pressure Judiciary for Harsh Sentences

Iran Human Rights | April 10, 2010

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry is manipulating the judicial process by forcing the issuance of harsh and long sentences for activists regardless of the lack of credible evidence against them, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

The attorney for jailed political activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi has told the Campaign that intelligence agents pressuring court officials have demanded excessive punishments, while the entire case deserves to be dismissed because of procedural violations.

"The case of Heshmatollah Tabarzadi and those of numerous others show that one cannot speak of a fair trial conforming to international standards of due process when the Judiciary is merely a tool of security agencies and executive powers," said Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

"Any fair review of his case would conclude that it is baseless and that he should be released immediately," he said.

Tabarzadi, who has been kept in solitary confinement in Evin prison's notorious Ward 209 and harshly interrogated since his arrest on 28 December 2009, ostensibly for participating in Ashura protests, claims he was simply driving near the protests in his automobile. Tabarzadi previously spent nine years in Evin prison on account of his political activism.

In an interview with the Campaign, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Tabarzadi's lawyer, said her client was arrested using a warrant not showing his name, as required by law. As a political prisoner, the procedures in his case must conform to the demands of Article 168 of the Iranian Constitution, which stipulates that a political prisoner should be tried in a public and open court. Tabarzadi has been in detention for four months, and, according to Sotoudeh, under severe pressure and beatings during interrogation.

Sotoudeh said that intelligence agents have demanded that the judge in Tabarzadi's case sentence him to the harshest possible punishment, including exile and a permanent ban on any social and political engagement.

Behzad Nabavi meets Rafsanjani on Kish

Asr Iran | April 9, 2010

Javan Online claims that Behzad Nabavi, who was on Nowruz leave from prison, had a two-hour meeting with Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Kish Island.

According to the report, Nabavi, who is the head of the Islamic Revolution Organization and one of the defendants in the post-election riots, traveled to Kish to meet with Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani, who was on Kish with his family for the Nowruz holiday, met with Nabavi for two hours.

The report said that the two discussed political developments in the country.

Ayatollah Ostai: Forget Tourism for Islamic Republic

Khabar Online | April 9, 2010

Qom interim Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ostadi said Iran should renounce income from tourism in order to pay the price of being an 'Islamic Republic.'

"One of the Sources recently made accurate and logical remarks and said that a person cannot claim to be a Muslim without paying the price for it," he said, referring to remarks made by Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi on Wednesday. "If we want to be Muslim and have an Islamic Republic, the restrictions in place must be accepted by the governing body."

Ayatollah Makarem criticized remarks made by some officials about reducing restrictions in order to attract more tourists to Iran. He said relaxing restrictions to draw in tourists meant opening the door to promiscuity.

In Iran, graves of all martyrs become cultural heritage

Tabnak | April 9, 2010

Following an agreement between the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and the Martyrs and Altruists' Affairs Institute, the resting place of all martyrs will be registered as Iranian cultural heritage.

According to ISNA, Mohammad Taqi Shariati, the welfare deputy of the Martyrs Institute, said that the decision would ensure the safeguarding of the martyrs' 'resting places. He added that by registering this cultural heritage, the message of the martyrs would be conveyed to future generations in a desired form.

He added that every single grave belonging to a martyr would become cultural heritage.

He added that so far 60 percent of the martyrs' graves had been systematized in the country. "We predict that by next year we will be able to systematize every single grave belonging to martyrs," he said.

He pointed to the naming of the new Persian calendar year (1389) as the year of "Redoubled Work, Redoubled Effort" by Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and said that the top priority for the Martyrs Institute was employment for the children of martyrs and wounded war veterans.

"The Martyrs and Altruists' Affairs Institute seeks to find employment for 40,000 children of martyrs and altruists," he said. "These employment-finding efforts will be [sought out] in government offices, organizations and institutes, [or offered in the form of] bank loans for self employment, self employment consultation and work skills training."

Cleric questions Persepolis value as cultural heritage

Tabnak | April 9, 2010

Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Abdullah Javadi Amoli said Persepolis has turned into cultural heritage site instead of a symbol of a lesson to learn from.

"Instead of being a [source of] admonition for the people that there were people who lost everything they had in spite of the power they wielded, it has become a cultural heritage," he said.

Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli made the remarks in his Thursday ethics class, which is a commentary on the Nahj ol Blagheh -- a book that is a collection of sayings and sermons by the first Shia Imam, Ali.

"Imam Ali says on the matter that these homes in ruins show that we must all depart, and the world is a place of passing, not a place of residence," he said.

Divorces spike, marriages decline in Tehran

Tabnak | April 9, 2010

The deputy of the Iranian registry announced on Thursday that the number of divorces were highest last year, while the least amount of marriages took place in Tehran.

"Based on the data from last year, among the country's provinces Tehran had the highest divorce rate and the least number of marriages," Mohsen Karami was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying in Kerman.

"The least number of divorces took place in Sistan-Baluchestan Province and the highest number of marriages took place in Ardabil province."

"Kerman Province had the least number of deaths, and the most births took place in Sistan-Baluchestan Province while Gilan Province had the least number of births."

"Fatemeh and Zahra were the most popular girl names chosen and Abolfazl and Amir-Ali were the leading names for boys."

Iran: 3 jailed Americans linked to US intelligence

AP | April 8, 2010

Iran's intelligence minister accused three Americans jailed since crossing the border from Iraq in July of having links to U.S. intelligence services, state TV reported Thursday.

The comments toughened Iran's accusations against the group, suggesting authorities could be close to bringing them to trial after months of mixed signals and fears in the U.S. that they could be used as bargaining chips in Iran's confrontation with the West.

Their families say the three were on a hike in the scenic Kurdish region of northern Iraq and unintentionally strayed across the border. Iran has accused them of spying and said it intends to bring them to trial.

Iran's English-language satellite channel Press TV said Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi told the station in an exclusive interview that Tehran has "credible evidence" the three were linked to U.S. intelligence. He did not elaborate but said the evidence would be revealed to news media soon.

It was the first time a senior official has said the three were tied to U.S. intelligence.

Moslehi also warned neighboring countries against cooperating with U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the report said.

Press TV briefly showed footage of the minister speaking but did not air his comments in full. Instead, a news anchor read out a summary of the main points.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he was not aware of the specific allegation but flatly denied the trio had anything to do with U.S. intelligence.

Iran sends U.S. warning on national nuclear day

Reuters | April 9, 2010

Iran's "allies around the globe" would retaliate against any strike by the United States, an influential cleric said Friday ahead of a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the progress of Iran's nuclear project.

Ahmad Khatami, a staunch Ahmadinejad supporter, said Washington would run into a quagmire if it attacked. President Barack Obama is pushing for new U.N. sanctions against Iran but has not ruled out military action to stop it getting a nuclear bomb.

"If America makes a crazy move, its interests will be endangered by Iran's allies around the globe," Khatami, a member of Iran's powerful Assembly of Experts, said at Friday prayers at Tehran University.

The United States and Israel say Iran finances militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah as well as armed groups in Iraq.

A Hezbollah official told Reuters last month: "Any attack on Iran could ignite the whole region."

Alamolhoda: Lifting ban on films smears art

Khabar Online | April 9, 2010

Mashhad Friday Prayers Leader Hojjatoleslam Ahamd Alamolhoda said lifting the ban on a number of forbidden films is not glorying art, but smearing it.

"Reciting Quranic verses with music or playing the Ney to show love for the hidden Imam is not considered religious art. This is seditious art and an insult to the progeny of the prophet [of Islam]. Religious art draws one to religious values and abhors vice."

Alamolhoda criticized the lack of proper hijab and said, "This move does not aim to show beauty and art and runs counter to art."

"The lack of hijab is not the promotion of beauty, but making values unattractive. A woman who enters the Imam Reza Shrine with makeup is not considered a beautiful person, but sets foot in the shrine as an animal.

"O' people [women] who sway hundreds of men to the path of lust you will be worse than animals on Judgment day. If we urge you to have hijab we are not opposing beauty and art, rather we are trying to prevent art from becoming the tool of decadence."

"One of the films made recently teaches how to kidnap women. The Supreme Leader warned you against lifting the ban on this film but you keep insisting on screening this film, that you plan to lift the ban on this film through the Public Cultural Council of the province. One greedy woman or man has used their art in the path of lustfulness to pile up money."

Iran protests at FIFA opposition to Islamic dress code

IRNA | April 9, 2010

Iran's national olympic committee secretary general says his committee has sent letters to international sports organizations to complain about a FIFA decision to ban Iranian women footballers from observing Islamic dress code in international tournamts.
"The letters have been sent to heads of FIFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)," Bahram Afsharzadeh said.

"We have asked the heads of these international sports organizations to review and annul FIFA's decision," he went on saying.

"Hijab is related to the Islamic culture and Muslim women can't take part in social activities without it," Afsharzadeh concluded.

FIFA has reportedly banned the Iranian women football squad wearing Hijab from participating in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) which will be held in Singapore from August 14-26.

Afsharzadeh had earlier urged the world Muslim states to protest at the FIFA ban on Islamic code of dressing for women in the First Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore this summer.

Referring to Iran's Women Football Team who qualified for the Games while wearing head scarves, Afsharzadeh said the FIFA action is violation of the world Muslims' rights.

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