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13 Dec 2009 18:252 Comments

IRNA strikes 'Ayatollah' from Rafsanjani title

Tabnak | Dec. 13, 2009

In a directive issued to IRNA employees, writers have been advised to use only the titles "Hojjatoleslam" or "Head of the Expediency Council" when referring to former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The title "Hojjatoleslam" is lower in rank than "Ayatollah," which was previously used when addressing Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani holds two key positions in the Iranian establishment: He heads both the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, a body tasked with reelecting a Leader for Iran in the event of the Supreme Leader's death and overseeing his actions. The Assembly of Experts has the power to unseat the leader.

The directive carried by Tabnak says, "As there is no unity in style with regards to Hashemi Rafsanjani's titles, henceforth the religious title of "Hojjatoleslam" and the job of "Head of the Expediency Council" are the only two permissible titles in producing and publishing news reports" on him.

Khamenei issues stern warning to opposition

AFP | Dec. 13, 2009

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned opposition leaders on Sunday to distance themselves from protesters he accused of acting against the Islamic regime's late founder Ayatollah Khomeini.

"Those who shout slogans in the name of these people (opposition leaders), hoist their pictures and speak of them with respect are in a point which is the exact opposite of the Imam (Khomeini), revolution and Islam," Khamenei said on state television.

"When you see this, step aside," he said to opposition leaders and defeated presidential candidates Mousavi and Karroubi, describing them as his "former brothers."

"I don't believe in purging, I believe in maximum attraction, but it looks as if some people insist on distancing themselves from the system and they have turned a family dispute into a battle against the system," Khamenei said.

Kashan students stage silent protest

Parleman | Dec. 13, 2009

Kashan University students staged a silent protest in front of the main gates of the university to protest the desecration of an Imam Khomeini poster and the propaganda campaign launched by Iran's state broadcaster.

According to the Parleman News report, the protest began at 11:30 am with student protesters holding green symbols and posters of the late Imam Khomeini to condemn the actions of Seda Sima (State TV) in airing footage of the desecrated poster and blaming the green movement for it.

Chant: They cry Hossein, Hossein [i.e. pretend to be religious]/ But they proudly rape [prisoners]

Shahid Beheshti University becomes scene of protests

Blog Watch | Dec. 13, 2009

In response to the desecration of a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini, Shahid Beheshti University became the scene of dueling protests by students and Basijs.

At 1:30 pm a group of Basijis entered SBU and gathered outside the faculty of management and began chanting slogans against the green movement. According to the report, the group consisted of 100 Basijis who were not as organized as on Dec. 8.

In response to their sloganeering, student protesters gathered in front of the faculty of law and shouted slogans in support of the green movement and headed toward the faculty of management where the Basij group, which included a number of middle-aged non-students engaged in an altercation with the students.

A number of the students were called into custody by campus security.

The blogger wrote that the gathering was still heated at the time of posting his entry, adding that he felt there was a possibility of clashes at any moment.

Unrest reported at Tehran University

HRA | Dec. 13, 2009

Students exited Tehran University earlier today, shouting slogans in support of the Green Movement, drawing hundreds of Tehran citizens to their gathering.

According to JARAS, police presence was heavy, but no clashes were reported. Police attempted to prevent any gatherings outside TU.

Eyewitness reports suggested that an organized pro-government mob was headed toward Tehran University and Enqelab (Revolution) Square.

Stiff sentences handed to Shiraz University students

HRA | Dec. 12, 2009

The Shiraz Revolution Court handed out stiff sentences to eight Shiraz University students and one professor detained on 13 Aban.

According to the Amir Kabir Bulletin, the sentences are as follows:

Kazem Rezai , Shiraz University student, 5 years and 8 months in prison
Dr. Masihollah Haqiqatjo, professor of medicine, 5 year suspended jail term
Nazari, medical student, 4 years in prison
Yahya Tavousi, Shiraz University student, 3 years in prison
Ehsan Kavousi, medical student, 3 years in prison
Ali Jalali, Payam-e Nour student, 6 months suspended jail term and a $1,000 fine
Mojtaba Hosseini, Shiraz University student, 6 months suspended jail term
Saed Rezai, medical student, 6 months suspended jail term
Kheybar Hosseinpour, Shiraz University student, 6 months suspended jail term

On 16 Azar, Saeed Aganji, Razieh Jafari and Saeed Lotfi were summoned and detained by the intelligence office of the province.

Twelve student activists were barred from higher education after last year's student day demonstrations.

Hamas delegation arrives in Iran to meet President & Leader

AFP | Dec. 13, 2009

Early this morning a Hamas delegation, headed by Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mish'al, arrived in Tehran for a few days visit, during which the delegation will meet with the Islamic Republic's spiritual leader Ali Khamene'i, President Ahmadinejad, the Iranian foreign minister, and a number of other officials.

The Hamas delegation includes Hamas Political Bureau members Musa Abu-Marzuq, Sami Khatir, and Izzat al-Rashq, as well as Jamal Isa, a Hamas leader.

The Hamas visit comes as part of a tour that includes several Arab and Muslim countries. It started off in Syria, where the delegation met with several Syrian officials in Damascus. The delegation then continued a few days ago to Yemen, where it met with Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih and other officials.

Political Bureau member Al-Rashq noted that the delegation was holding this Arab and Muslim tour in order to discuss Palestinian developments.

Ahmadinejad $280 million aid to Bolivia upsets Majlis

Parleman | Dec. 13, 2009

Reformist lawmakers raised an objection to the $280 million loan granted to Bolivia by Iran.

During the Sunday open session, Mostafa Kavakebian said, "Based on Article 80 of the Iranian constitution, the receiving of loans and the granting of financial aid to foreign countries by the government must meet the approval of Majlis."

"As the Iranian government has granted Bolivia a 280 million dollar aid package, it is necessary to give a warning to the government."

Daryush Qanbari, another Reformist lawmaker, also used Article 80 to say, "It is important to give special attention to this matter [the aid package] and ensure that the authority of Majlis is not undermined. The government must seek Majlis permission [in such cases] and it must be held accountable [on the Bolivian aid package]."

Deputy Majlis speaker Hojjatoleslam Mohammad-Hassan Abu Torabi promised to convey the message of disapproval to the government.

US targeting IRGC front companies in effort to squeeze Iran

Newsweek | Dec. 12, 2009

The Obama administration has approved an aggressive plan to ratchet up sanctions on Iran in an effort to squeeze that country's economy, a senior administration official tells NEWSWEEK. The centerpiece of the plan calls for the Treasury Department to target the front companies of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a force that is notorious for harassing and killing pro-democracy protesters. "It's important for Obama that the United States do exactly what it says it's going to do," says the senior official. "We said at the end of the year we would turn to sanctions" if diplomacy to put an end to Iran's nuclear program didn't produce results. That time has now come, the official says, adding, "Nobody is going to say to the United States, 'You're just like the Bush administration.' We tried the engagement route."

The key figure in the administration's effort is Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. Levey noted in an interview that the IRGC's business interests have been steadily taking over the country's economy.
The administration's plan calls for Levey's office to publicly identify dozens of IRGC front companies and then pressure suppliers and trading partners to cut off ties--or risk being sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Helicopter linked to Iran grounded in North Texas

Houston Chronicle | Dec. 13, 2009

Federal agents have grounded a helicopter they suspect was earmarked for shipment to Iran.

The $8 million aircraft sits in a Bell Helicopter hangar in Arlington while agents investigate the circumstances that have already placed two other U.S. made helicopters in Iran.

The Dallas Morning News reports that at least one of the aircraft is equipped with night vision and autopilot technology subject to strict U.S. restrictions.

Sanandaj security agent arrested over sexual misconduct

Peyke Iran | Dec.13

The warden of Sanandaj Central Prison was arrested for having extra marital relations with one of the detention center's female employees.

Masoud Mehraban was arrested on Saturday morning for engaging in sexual activities inside the correctional facility.

The 36-year-old Mehraban is married and has one child.

It is believed that he rose to the position of chief warden from his connections within the Intelligence Office of Sanandaj. He was also known to have relayed information gathered by prison informants in Sanandaj Prison to security officials in the Intelligence Office.

There is no news about his whereabouts.

Reformist Iran minister Tajzadeh to stand trial

ILNA | Dec. 12, 2009

The Iranian Labour News Agency's (ILNA) website reported that the former Minister of Interior, Mostafa Tajzadeh, will stand trial tomorrow at Bench 15 of The Tehran Revolution Tribunal. ILNA wrote:

"It is also said that the court hearings for charges brought against the member of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, Mostafa Tajzadeh, will be convened tomorrow at Bench 15 of The Revolution Tribunal. The defence will be represented by Hushang Purbaba'i ... as well as Amir Hoseynabadi."

Protest at Tehran University

Protest at Qazvin University

Chant: The one who tore the picture [i.e., Imam Khomeini's]/ Is the same one who cheated [i.e., stoled the elections]

Videos and photos show protests today at all-women Al Zahra University, Sharif, among others.

Protest at Al-Zahra University

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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Endless, hair-raising threats to strike fear into the hearts of people are unbecoming of his "Eminence". It is beneath his dignity to issue blood-curdling cries.I think the people get the message" anyone who doesn't stay silent and submit" will de responsible for the atrocities committed on them. It couldn't be any clearer.Man,woman or child- no exemptions,no quarter given.Clear as mud.

pirooz / December 14, 2009 12:46 AM

His Eminence? This gus was Akhoond 'Panjzari' before 1979. Eminance? He is full of hot air. His wife and daughter were so scared a few months ago they walked around their house with Koran placed on their heads. I don't know what kind of miracle they expected from a pile of paper?That is the level of their intelligence.If the people in Tehran alone get their courage together and come out in millions for a few days this garbage and his clan will be history.Death to Islamic Republic.

Hooshang / December 14, 2009 7:45 AM