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Selected Headlines

21 Jan 2010 22:272 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.

Clinton urges global response to Internet attacks

NYT | Jan. 21, 2010

Coupling a salute to Internet freedom with a carefully worded caution to countries like China and Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that countries that engaged in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation.

"In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all," she said in a speech in Washington. "By reinforcing that message, we can create norms of behavior among states and encourage respect for the global networked commons."

Mrs. Clinton's comments came in a speech in which she announced a new $15 million effort to help more young people, women and citizens groups in other countries communicate on the Web.

Her remarks came at a time when Internet controls have drawn increasing public attention. Limits on Internet searches led to a dispute made public this month between Google and China, and sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which played a critical role in helping protesters in Iran spread news and images of violent crackdowns on anti-government demonstrations, have been blocked by the authorities in Tehran.

Iran develops Islamic messenger

Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

In order to facilitate user interaction on the Internet, Iran has developed the Etaha messenger, which allows the sending and receiving of audio, video and text files.

The head of the Taha Cultural and Communications Institute, Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Mojtaba Hosseini -- the Supreme Leader's son -- told Rasa News Agency that the messenger service would connect individuals with researchers, professors, cultural centers and seminars as well as provide them with the opportunity to pursue online education.

"One of the main features of this software is its video conference rooms, forums to post articles and news stories, and select better websites," he explained.

He added that the Taha Institute was working on an Islamic sciences and humanities search engine.

MPs quizzed about illegal web surfing

Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

After the Iranian police department's cyber unit announced it was a crime to access the internet through the use of proxy software, the Fararu news Web site conducted a survey of Majlis members.

Lawmakers contacted by a reporter gave a range of puzzling answers to the question: "Do you use proxy software?" Not all MPs were available. Many had returned home to their constituencies, while others declined to answer because they were in the middle of lunch. Halfway through the survey, one lawmaker suddenly claimed he was the brother of one of the lawmakers, and not a Majlis representative himself.

Qodratollah Alikhani, a representative in Majlis from Qazvin, said he did not surf the net and therefor did not need to use proxy software. "I do not recall Majlis having passed a bill to classify the use of proxy software as a crime," he added.

Mostafa Kavakebian, a Semnan representative in Majlis, said, "I don't even have time to read newspapers; but I don't use proxy software."

When asked if he visits the Parleman News website, which belongs to the Reformist faction of Parliament, Kavakebian said, "The guys print out [some] stories and I read [what they hand to me]."

Tehran representative in Majlis, Hossein Nejabat said he did not use proxy software, and followed the news on state television and by reading left and right wing newspapers.

Regarding the law banning the use of proxy software, Nejabat said, "There exists a general law that limitations can be imposed on anything against [national] security; but there is no specific law [about the use proxy software]."

Esmail Kowsari, a Tehran representative in Majlis, said, "You might not believe me, but I don't use computers." Regarding the law banning the use of proxy software, Kowsari said, "I can't say right now; I'll have to ask around to be able to answer you."

Javad Aryanmanesh, an MP from South Khorasan, said, "A law was passed by Majlis regarding computer-related crimes, which entails the majority of cyber-related crimes; but I don't know if it includes using proxy software is a crime."

Aryanmanesh added that with the cooperation of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, legislation regarding media laws was being drafted. "We intend to pass laws for all modern media such as Bluetooth, SMS, MMS, Web sites, blogs and print and non- print media that lack proper regulations," he said.

"I don't use proxy software, but I am aware that those who are involved in scientific and research work or are professors need to use such software to access scientific Web sites," he added.

After the Fararu reporter introduced himself to Mohammad Mehdi Mofateh, a representative from Razan, and asked him whether he used proxy software, the lawmaker responded, "Why? What's it to you?"

When the reporter explained that the cyber police had made the use of proxy software a crime and therefore Fararu was asking lawmakers their opinion on it, Mofateh asked, "Who are you [again]?"

After the reporter introduced himself again as a Fararu correspondent, Mofateh said, "We need to talk in person."

Lawmaker Bijan Nobaveh Vatan was contacted through his listed telephone number. The transcript of the conversation is as follows:

- Hello, Mr. Nobaveh. May I ask two questions?
- I'm on my way out.
- This is a survey of all lawmakers. We would like to have your answer. My question is: do you use proxy software?
- Use what?
- Proxy software.
- I don't even know what it is.
- Proxy software is something that is used to access filtered websites.
- No! We don't use the internet.
- I see; Mr. Nobaveh given that the constitution states that the law must determine crimes and their punishment, is there a law in Majlis classifying the use of proxy software a crime?
- Do you have information about it? I don't know anything about this.
- Aren't you a lawmaker, Mr. Nobaveh?
- No! it's my brother who is a lawmaker.
- I see. So I have the wrong number?
- Yes, yes.
- I apologize.
- It's all right.

According to the Fararu reporter, the Nobaveh brothers sounded remarkably similar.

Hamshahri acquitted of all charges

Tabnak | Jan. 20, 2010

The Hamshahri daily was acquitted of propagating the Bahai sect after it published an ad which carried the photo of a building belonging to outlawed religion.

According to the semi-official Mehr News Agency, Hamshahri editor-in-chief Ali Asghar Mahaki defended himself by saying that the daily had published a free supplement describing the Bahai's [alleged] racist stance on issues and distributed it along with the morning paper.

The judge presiding over the case rejected the charges against Hamshahri by saying that publishing a photo of a building when the majority of readers were unaware that it belonged to the Bahais couldnot be considered propagating for that sect.

Salimi-Namin tries to explain IRNA contract

Khabar Online
| Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

The head of the Modern History Research Center rejected news reports that he had a contract with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

"Despite claims made by a number of Web sites that IRNA terminated its research contract with me over an interview I did with Tehran-e Emrouz in which I criticized [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and [Esfandyar Rahim] Mashai, I hereby announce that I did not have any research contract with IRNA," said Abbas Salimi-Namin.

As the head of the research center, he said, he prepares news bulletins in the form of booklets for IRNA every two weeks for which he receives a sum of $300 annually.

He said that the research center had a contract with IRNA, which was valid for a few more months and could not be terminated. "I hope that this report is baseless, as this act would be immoral and entering such topics is not in the interest of the government," he said.

Dean says professors wanted to make trouble

Khabar Online
| Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

The dean of the Allameh Tabatabaei University said the early retirement of 12 of the institution's reputed professors was not a political move.

"These retirements were not [a] political [decision], rather these professors intended to disrupt final exams," said Shariati.

The Alameh Tabatabaei dean told Mehr News Agency that some of the dismissed professors were politically active. "Every member of this group was a supporter of a particular political movement and sought to disrupt exams," he claimed.

When asked if rumors about the dissolution of the development assembly of the economics faculty was true, Shariati said, "The economic development assembly of the economics faculty has not been dissolved."

He then completed his statement by adding, "Unfortunately our development assembly had turned into and acted like a political club."

"We retired one professor from the economics faculty and the rest of these individuals were retired upon their own request three years ago. One of the individuals whose name has appeared in news reports is currently in the United States. Dr. Baradaran Shoraka was retired last summer upon his own request and he is now in the states."

"Regarding Mr. Khatayi, I did not want him to retire but he was retired upon his own insistence. Mr. Zenouz was retired two years ago in the same manner. The only person to be retired this year was Mr. Satarifar. He qualified for retirement because otherwise the university would not retire any of its professors. The university has rules and abides by those rules."

"Every single one of these individuals were at the age of retirement and in the case of Mr. Satarifar he had more than 30 years of educational activity. Because he lacked in research work and [scientific] papers and given that he was an assistant professor, by law he should have been already retired with so many numbers of years of teaching. Of course if he had been a full-fledged professor he could have continued working until the age of 65."

Kiarostami refuses to judge at Fajr Film Festival

Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

Renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami turned down the offer to judge at the 28th annual International Fajr Film Festival.

According to Khabar Online, Kiarostami was the first director to be approached to judge at the Islamic Republic's most prestigious film awards.

Kiarostami declined the offer due to reasons that have not been made public.

Other noted figures who have also turned down the offer include Farhad Tohidi, Fatemeh Goudarzi, Minou Farshchi, Ezatollah Entezami and Asghae Farhadi.

IRIB 3: Velayati-Rezaei to go ahead as scheduled

Khabar Online | Jan. 21, 2010

Even following reports that a live debate between Ali Akbar Velayati and defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei would not take place, state television announced that it would take place as scheduled.

According to Khabar Online, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, IRIB Channel announced on its ticker (news crawl) that Velayati and Rezaei would hold a debate that night at 10:30 on the role of foreigners in the country.

The Thursday debate was not expected to be heated as previous ones. The two Iranian officials were expected to stick to general topics.

Velayati, a U.S.-trained pediatrician was foreign minister in the 1980s. He is now a special adviser to the Supreme Leader on international affairs. Rezaei serves as the secretary of the Expediency Council.

Report of Rezaei, Velayati debate rejected

Asr Iran | Jan. 21, 2010

The live debate scheduled for Thursday between Ali Akbar Velayati and defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has been called off.

Velayati is the Leader's aide on International affairs and Rezaei serves as the secretary of the Expediency Council.

"Reports about such a debate are all false and no coordination about the debate has taken place with one side [Velayati]," an informed source told Jahan.

The informed sources said that a debate would take place on the "Roo beh Farda" (Toward Tomorrow) program tonight. He rejected that the debaters would be Velayati and Rezaei. Ahmad Tavakoli and Ebrahim Azizi would verbally battle it out on the live show instead, he said.

Kayhan: Greens conscripting junkies for 22 Bahman

Asr Iran | Jan. 21, 2010

The hardline Kayhan daily claimed that a number of "Green sedition" elements are recruiting their supporters for the 22 Bahman [anniversary of the Islamic Revolution] demonstrations from a rehabilitation center.

According to the report, in an attempt to recruit henchmen to hijack the 22 Bahman demonstration, the Greens have resorted to conscripting drug addicts at a rehab center, despite the watchful eye of staff.

Kayhan alleged that the Green agents went to the unnamed rehab center and managed to lure the addicts with financial incentives. The drug abusers reportedly promised to attend demonstrations on 22 Bahman.

22 Bahman (Feb. 11, 2010) marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. State-sponsored demonstrations are held on that day every year.

Four arrested after Iran prosecutor assassinated

BBC | Jan. 21, 2010

Four people have been arrested after an Iranian state prosecutor was shot dead outside his home in northern Iran.

Vali Haj Gholizadeh, who officials say had a reputation for fighting corruption, was killed in the town of Khoy near the Turkish border.

Local officials said a Kurdish separatist group had claimed responsibility for the killing.
The region has been the scene of frequent clashes with Kurdish groups who want to establish their own state.

Two gunmen opened fire on Mr. Haj Gholizadeh outside his house late on Monday, and he died of his wounds in hospital.

The Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), a Kurdish militant group based in Iraqi Kurdistan claimed it carried out the attack, local government official Fakhrali Nikbakht told the Mehr News agency.

Four men were arrested on Tuesday, but no details have been given about their identities.

Iran denies handshake report with Israeli official

Reuters | Jan. 21, 2010

Iran on Thursday denied reports a minister exchanged a rare handshake with his Israeli counterpart at a tourism fair in Spain, a state news agency said on Thursday.

The Israeli and Iranian tourism ministers were introduced at a reception hosted by the Spanish king in Madrid and shook hands, a spokesman for Israel's Tourism Minister Stas Mezeshnikov said earlier.

Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization denied any such gesture had been made, ISNA news agency reported.

"The rumor, with certain aims, about a meeting between Iranian and the occupying regime's (Israeli) officials is a baseless rumor based on the imagination of an ill-minded British media," said the statement carried by ISNA.

"We stress again that Islamic Republic of Iran will never acknowledge a state under the name of Israel and considers permanent confrontation with such a regime to be its duty," it said.

Iran to place new limits on cash withdrawals

AP | Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

Iran will begin Thursday limiting the amount of money individuals can withdraw daily in what officials say is a measure to battle money laundering but analysts see as an attempt to curb inflation by slowing the flow of money.

Deputy Finance Minister Asghar Abolhasani said withdrawals of more than 150 million rials (roughly $15,000) per day would be banned "in order to combat money-laundering," state radio reported. The decision means an account holder cannot withdraw more than that amount daily in cash, but can still write checks for larger amounts.

Finance Minister Shamsoddin Hosseini told a conference Wednesday that "controlling the cash" would serve to battle money-laundering and financial terrorism.

Analysts, however, said the restriction was apparently aimed more at combatting double-digit inflation in a country where the economy is largely in shambles in part from sanctions and what critics contend are President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's free-spending populist policies.

Iran's Republic of Fear

Guardian | Jan. 21, 2010

Iran's clerical regime governs by a simple formula: he who is the most frightening, wins. "Victory by terrifying" is a trope that is present in many of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speeches. Indeed, it is a reliable guide to his political philosophy.

This view was not invented by Khamenei, but rather is drawn from the Qur'an and the Shia tradition. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard have uniforms bearing a Qur'anic verse that reads: "Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; God knows them." Furthermore, in the Shia tradition, the strategy of the Mahdi, the Shia messiah, will be to intimidate all his enemies upon his return to Earth.

But cultivating fear in others also makes one more susceptible to fear, and nothing is more frightening to Khamenei and the leaders of the Islamic Republic than the social dynamism unleashed by the democratic movement brewing inside the country.

The regime seems convinced that there is only a small likelihood of a military attack on its nuclear programme. It does not believe that sanctions can bring about its collapse. Thus, external forces do not appear to pose much of a threat.

What has shaken the government, and indeed threatens the existence of the ruling Islamic ideology, is the pressure of the Iranian people for human and political rights.

Ayatollah Bahjat's encounter with Sharam Jazayeri

Tabnak | Jan. 21, 2010

A former member of Ayatollah Bahjat's office said the notorious Shahram Jazayeri had unsuccessfully tried to ingratiate himself to the renowned Ayatollah.

"One day Shahram Jazayeri, using the contacts he had established, asked Ayatollah Bahjat's son to arrange an appointment with him [Ayatollah Bahjat]," said Gholami, "but when Ayatollah Bahjat was told about the request he said 'No.'"

Gholami added that Jazayeri decided to wait outside Ayatollah Bahjat's mosque until he left after performing the daily prayer. He intended to use the opportunity to arrange a meeting with Ayatollah Bahjat and from there gain permission to enter his home, he said.

Ayatollah Bahjat always walked with his head bowed and never looked at anyone, he went on. Upon exiting the mosque, one of Jazayeri's friends approached Ayatollah Bahjat and said, "'Your Excellency, Mr. Shahram Jazayeri, one of the benevolent (generous) businessmen from Tehran, who is very active in charities has come here to see you.'"

At this time Ayatollah Bahjat raised his head, looked at Jazayeri and said, "'Go and repent from the benevolent acts you have committed.'"

Jazayeri was a businessman found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to prison. His affiliation with Mehdi Karroubi and the allegation of receiving a large sum of money from Jazayeri were used by Principlist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attack Karroubi during the presidential debates.

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Can not teh US make fear in Khamenei's heart by geting Swiss bancs too keep his money their out of his reach?

Dariush / January 22, 2010 7:44 AM

That interview with Nobaveh is a crack up!

Iranian MPs could learn a thing or two from certain US Congressmen about being coy with the press.

Pirouz / January 22, 2010 6:46 PM