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21 Jan 2010 00:306 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.

Use of proxy software declared crime in Iran

Tabnak | Jan. 20, 2010

The Internet crime fighting squad of the Iranian police department announced that using proxy software to access filtered websites had been classified as a crime punishable by law.

According to the Etemad daily, police said 32 percent of Internet crimes these days consist of illegal access to filtered websites.

Student activist sentenced to over eight years in prison

Fars | AUT | Jan. 20, 2010

Iranian student and political activist Majid Tavakoli was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison.

Citing Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Tavakoli's lawyer, Fars News Agency reported today that Bench 15 of Tehran's Islamic Revolution Court sentenced Tavakoli to eight years and six months in prison. The Amir Kabir University student news bulletin added that Tavakoli was banned from political activities for five years and prohibited from leaving the country.

The breakdown was as follows:

* Five years in prison for gathering and conspiring against the establishment;
* One year in prison for propagating against the establishment;
* Two years in prison for slandering Iran's Leader; and
* Six months in prison for slandering the president.

Tavakoli had been arrested on two previous occasions. The first time he was jailed for one year and 17 months and the second time he was held in solitary confinement for a period of three months.

Police sponsors competition to find Ashura protestors

Norooz | Jan. 20, 2010

After Tehran police chief Azizollah Rajabzadeh announced two days ago that every single Ashura protester had been identified, an informed source said more than 40 individuals have been arrested in connection with this incident.

According to ILNA, the police website quoted an informed source as saying, "after photos of the Ashura rioters were uploaded by the police website and the Amin-e Jameh journal, more than 40 seditionist elements were identified and arrested with the help of the vigilant and good nation of Iran. The suspects are in police custody for questioning and investigation."

This is while Jaras claims informed security experts believe such reports are released with the aim of intimidating citizens in order to prevent them from participating in future gatherings, as such an operation is virtually impossible to carry out in a city like Tehran which has a population of 12 million.

The number of such reports indicates the desperation of the police force, which has been reduced to resorting to a psychological war to control citizens, the Jaras report added.

Earlier reports alleged that the police force had sponsored a competition by printing pictures of the Ashura protestors in its Amin-e Jameh journal and distributing it in mosques across Tehran, asking people to identify them.

Report of Mashai's resignation rejected

Tabnak | Jan. 19, 2010

An informed source rejected recent reports about the resignation of Esfandiyar Rahim Mashai, the head of the presidential office.

The source told Fars News Agency that the report about Mashai's resignation is baseless and aimed at sabotaging the government.

IRNA terminates contract over Mashai

Tabnak | Jan. 19, 2010

After Abbas Salimi Namin criticized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's close confidant Esfandyar Rahim Mashai, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) terminated its contract with the Principlist researcher.

Shafaf cited a pro-Mashai website as claiming that the decision was made by a top IRNA official, who was once the head of the news agency's research bureau.

Salimi Namin had earlier commented on Mashai's remarks about the prophets. Speaking to Tehran Emrouz (Tehran Today), he was quoted as saying, "I believe Mashai was trying to say all managers make mistakes except Ahmadinejad. In this regard, he says even the prophets were not flawless in their management and concludes that Ahmadinejad's management is better than everyone else's. But no one pays attention to what he [Mashai] says anymore. Our nation rejects brown-nosers. Mashai's recent remarks are rooted in his sycophancy."

Report of Jamaran Husseiniyah's closure rejected

Rooz | Jan. 20, 2010

A report carried by a Principlist website alleging that Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Hassan Khomeini had closed down the Jamaran Husseiniyah has been rejected.

The Jamaran Husseiniyah was the podium used by the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini to address the nation. During the Ashura mourning ceremonies, plainclothes agents raided the Husseiniyah where people had gathered to listen to a speech by former Reformist president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami.

No legal action was taken against the plainclothes agents who violated the sanctity of the Jamaran Husseiniyah. Many opposition supporters criticized officials for this lack of action, especially given the state's fury over the desecration of an Imam Khomeini poster.

"The Jamaran Husseiniyah is currently open to the public and there are no restrictions for people wanting to visit the facility," an informed source told Parleman News.

The Husseiniyah was reopened on Jan. 20 after the windows broken by the plainclothes agents on Ashura were replaced.

Seyyed Hassan Khomeini meets with Ayatollah Sanei

Norooz | Jan. 20, 2010

Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Hassan Khomeini met with Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Yousefali Sanei in Qom.

According to Mardamsalary, in the meeting Seyyed Hassan Khomeini voiced support for Ayatollah Sanei's position as a Shia source.

Earlier a number of hardliners in Qom including the head of the Theological Lecturers Association, Mohammad Yazdi, sparked a controversy by writing a letter claiming Ayatollah Sanei was no longer qualified as a source.

Sources of Emulation are the highest order of clergy in the Shia tradition. They are not appointed by an organization. A cleric can become a source after writing a treaties containing his religious decrees, which must then be approved by at least two other sources of emulation, after which he receives public endorsement.

Safayi-Farahani released on $700K bail

Parsa | Jan. 20, 2010

Mohsen Safayi-Farahani, a member of the Islamic Participation Front and the former head of the Iran Football Federation, was released on a $700,000 bail, according to his lawyer.

Parsa News quoted Houshang Pourbabayi said that his client was slated to be released on Wednesday after the bail was posted and the paperwork has been processed.

On Nov. 12, 2009, Branch 15 of the Revolution Court tried Safayi-Farahani on charges of acting against national security, slandering government officials and propagating against the establishment. On Jan 16, 2010, the court sentenced Safayi-Farahani to six years in prison.

Detained Mousavi aide hospitalized for renal failure

Kalame | Jan. 20, 2010

An aide to Mir Hossein Mousavi has been released from Evin prison to undergo surgery.

Seyyed Hassan Ahmadian suffers from renal problems and had been transferred to a hospital in the past where medical tests concluded that must undergo surgery.

Ahmadian is scheduled for an operation on Jan. 23, Kalameh reported on Wednesday.

"Because [Ahmadian] suffers from a spinal injury, a team of medical experts must collaborate to perform his operation and operating on him without even giving him a break of a single day from prison concerns us," members of his family were quoted as saying.

Ahmadian's family has repeatedly requested a short leave from prison for Seyyed Hassan, but the Tehran prosecutor has declined to grant the political activist leave on bail even though his trial has come to an end.

Ahamdian was arrested on September 9 at the NGO with which he collaborated. His family was told that his arrest was linked to his cooperation with the opposition truth-finding committee.

The Ahmadian family has written an open letter to the Judiciary Chief, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, asking him to grant Seyyed Hassan leave from prison due to his poor health condition.

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Right, residents of a nation with a Police "Internet crime fighting squad," which exists to enforce a law making it a crime to access websites the regime finds inconvenient, enjoy greater freedom of expression / speech than residents of the "Great Satan" / "arrogant powers," and, according to the current Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Jews in Iran have greater freedom to practice their religion than those living anywhere else on the planet, including - wait for it! - Israel. . . .

Absolutely, anything you say, regime officials!

After all, everyone in the current regime is a "super genius" appointed & endorsed by Allah, not a mere mortal, and they have the certificates (which they paid good money for) to prove their superior intelligence compared to those they "govern" - and the topper of it all, is that according to his Chief of Staff, whose objectivity in this regard is beyond reproach, AN is the perfect, flawless administrator, better than anyone else on the planet, alive or dead!

Such a superior governing system / way of organizing a society, and yet few people from elsewhere seek to immigrate to Iran, or the current government would make a great show of a net inflow of people, versus the more likely net outflow - well, I guess people just don't know a good thing when they see it, eh, Ahmadi & Khamanei?

Zed / January 21, 2010 5:04 AM

Technically, Zed, you're incorrect.

While Iran has seen segments of its society resettle elsewhere, far greater numbers have actually immigrated to Iran, particularly from Afghanistan and, over the years to a lesser degree, Iraq. What's more, these numbers have been in the millions.

It's all in how you look at things. For example, yes, Americans are free to view sites and imagery considered haraam by Islam. On the other hand, if a passenger awaiting a flight at an Iranian airport decides to pray on the floor at the terminal, nothing will happen to him. In a US airport, that individual will be questioned at length, and he will not be boarded onto his scheduled plane.

Likewise, when Iranian Jews protest Israeli war crimes, such as those carried out during Operation Cast Lead, they merely blend in with the rest of Iranian society. On the other hand, Israeli Jews that protest such activities face very real social social repercussions. Same goes for Jewish-American journalists, such as the one that got deported today.

As for the "fake' degree controversy, didn't GW Bush receive a degree from Harvard? What does that tell you?

Pirouz / January 21, 2010 7:08 PM

Pirouz the 70 year Bay resident, your comments and comparisons continue to be a great source of comedy for all Iranians. First of all, these Afghans, Iraqis, Armenians escaped due to the years of conflict and persecution. They weren't leaving for a better life, they were escaping from certain death. If you havent noticed, many Iraqis did return home. Iran is also right there, so it's much cheaper and easier to get there than taking a flight to the West.

Now, if a Bahai or a Zoroastrian performed prayers at an Iranian airport, what do you think will happen to him? What if you decide to convert to another religion, what will happen to you? You take the one instance of the "flying imams" and try to present it as the norm. I have seen Muslims praying at airports atleast twice, and there was no problems to hear about.

And I hate to defend GW, but atleast he actually attended Yale and Harvard business school. But, you continue to present these poor comparisons on iranian, NIAC and here to give the appearance that the US government and IRI are very similar, thus giving the IRI some legitimacy.

GooGoo / January 22, 2010 1:37 AM

@ Pirous,

The immigrants comming to Iran from Afganistan and Iran are all desprate hungery souls looking for a way out of the hell that is there country.The immigrants getting out of Iran are mostly highly educated self exilled bunch. On the matter of the Israel and its defensive policy one only needs to compare it with the events of 1982 of Hama in Syria.The saudis in there country and Mullah's in Iran for the last 30 years. Go figure.

Cyrus / January 22, 2010 1:38 AM

I am not aware of a Bahai or Zoroastrian having a distinctive mode of prayer or having to pray within specific time slots, so I would imagine that provided they were discrete they would not even be noticed. The difficulty is that normal Muslim mode of prayer is disctinctive and therefore more noticeable. However it would be interesting to know if Tehran International Airport has facilities for multifaith prayer/meditation rooms as found in European and US airports and what would be the attitude to a group of evangelical Christians who wanted to pray together in the foyer somewhere at Tehran airport.

rezvan / January 22, 2010 3:44 AM


You resort to the tired and typical line by line comparison of wrongful conducts. Somehow your frame of mind cannot understand that Iran has 70 million injustices, in too many imaginable ways, every minute of every day. Take a breath and for a second please let that sink in.

Behrooz / January 22, 2010 8:30 AM