FDI's Weekly Newswire

The life and [troubled] times of the IslamicRepublic of Iran

Available on the Internet or by e-mail for a $25 per yeartax-deductible contribution at http://www.iran.org/ Tel: 1+ (301)946-2910. Fax: 1+(310) 942-5341

No. 44 April 24, 1997


The Presidential Election Campaign heats up


Iranian exiles toprotest in Germany

Khatami rally blockedin Mashad

Experimentalpoll shows youth prefer Khatami

And...Pro-Nateq-Nouri slams Salam

Qom clericswithdraw support from N-N

Opposition groupsannounce boycott

Nateq-Nourichallenged over UK visit

Presidentialoutsider calls for exiles' return

Temporarymarriages are worse that AIDS

Brother ofslain publisher calls for embargo

More on press banagainst Tus editor

Tariq-al-Qudsmaneuvers to begin in the Persian Gulf

120 satellite receiversseized

Azeri-Iran relationsstrained

Velayati is scoldedby Tehran daily

No nukes, IRNA says

Iraniansarrested for illegally entering Kuwait

Iranian exilesto protest in Germany

Iranian exiles are planning a protest in front of the ForeignMinistry in Bonn, Germany, on Saturday, April 26, to demand that theEuropean Union take firmer action against the Islamic Republic whenthe EU meets next week to determine its reaction after the Mykonostrial. The demonstration is being organized by the ConstitutionalistsMovement of Iran in coordination with other groups, and will involvea variety of opposition movements from across the politicalspectrum.

A similar demonstration is being organized on April 27 in LosAngeles, in front of the Federal Building in Westwood.

Iranian exiles also plan to demonstration in Luxembourg on April29th as European Union Foreign Ministers meet to plan future policytoward the Islamic Republic in the wake of the Mykonos case. EUForeign Ministers Meeting. [CMI press release 4/21]

Khatami rallyblocked in Mashad

Inside Iran, demonstrators from the radical Ansar-e Hezbollahgroup, which is allied to Majlis speaker Nateq-Nouri, blocked acampaign rally in Mashad by presidential candidate Hojj. MohammadKhatami on Sunday, April 20. Khatami was addressing supporters in theHaze Loghman mosque in Mashad when Ansar-e Hezbollah supporters beganchanting "Down with Liberal" and accosting Khatami's supporters.Khatami stopped speaking and left the meeting to avoid violence. Inits report on the incident, Salam daily said that windows in themosque had been broken in the scuffle. [Salam 4/21]

Interviewed by the BBC Farsi service, the former editor of theoutlawed Tus daily, Amoli Moghaddam, said that Khatami told hissupporters not to confront the Ansar-e Hezbollah demonstrators andleft the mosque to avoid further clashes, not wanting to see thepresidential elections marred by violence. [BBC Farsi Service4/21]

Experimentalpoll shows youth prefer Khatami

An experimental public opinion poll conducted by Salam (which hasbeen supporting the candidacy of former Intelligence MinisterMohammad Reyshari), gave Hojj. Khatami a resounding lead in thepresidential elections.

The poll, which was conducted among students and professors at theMedical Sciences Department of Arak University, gave Khatami 62.3% ofthe vote, as opposed to a mere 17.9% for Nateq-Nouri. Reyshari camein third with close to 9% of the vote. Liberal opposition leadersEzatollah Sahabi and Ibrahim Yazdi polled 4.4% and 2.6%respectively.

Salam did not explain how the poll was conducted, nor does thepaper appear to have used internationally-recognized samplingtechniques, so its results cannot be considered of nationalsignificance. However, it is significant that a national newspaperpublished the poll. Some political observers believe that Nateq-Nourihas called out the Ansar-e Hezbollah thugs against Khatami preciselybecause he is beginning to feel less confident about his chances ofvictory in May. [Salam 4/21]

And...Pro-Nateq-Nouri slams Salam

Resalat newspaper published an interview with a Pro-Nateq-NouriMajlis deputy, Ahmad Rasulinezhad, lashed out at Salam of unethicaljournalism. "During the past few weeks, Salam has published mockingarticles based on factional anger and does not conform withjournalistic ethics." Rasulinezhad's comments appeared in thepro-Nateq-Nouri daily, Resalat. He also lashed out at Hamshahri, adaily published by the popular (and pro-Rafsanjani/Khatami) mayor ofTehran, Karbaschi. Noting that the paper had been established usingpublic funds, he said it has become "a propaganda pillar for aspecific political faction, while not paying enough attention to theSpeaker of the Majlis," Nateq-Nouri. He urged the Minister of Cultureand Islamic guidance to crack down on the two papers. [Resalat,4/10]

For initial punishment, Salam was not allowed to send a reporteralong with Nateq-Nouri on his official trip to Russia. Asked whetherthe paper was being blacklisted because of political line, the headof the Nateq-Nouri's parliamentary office replied: "It certainly is.I have no faith in Salam." He also revealed that instead of theparliamentary correspondents who usually cover the MajlisspeakerÕs visits, newspaper editors were invited to Moscow, sothat "Nateq-NouriÕs trip will be presented very well on thefront pages." [Salam, 4/8]

Qom clericswithdraw support from N-N

Adding to Nateq-Nouri's woes was the surprise announcement by twoimportant members of the Society of the Professors of the QomReligious School, that their influential religious society wouldremain neutral in the elections, instead of backing Nateq-Nouri, aspreviously expected.

Ayatollah Seyed Jafar Karimi told Kar va Kargar newspaper while onpilgrimage to Mecca that the Society "is not a political party todeclare candidates for the presidential elections.... We have come tothe conclusion that is better to remain neutral the coming election.The prestige of our Society is more important than introducingsomeone as a candidate." [Kar va Kargar 4/21]

In a separate statement, another member of the society, Hojj.Masoudi, said the group would soon hold a meeting "to decide aboutour final recommendations regarding the presidential elections."[Ettelaat International 4/22]

The radical Rouhaniat Mobarez in Tehran is officially backingNateq-Nouri, and traditionally has very good relations with the QomSociety, making Ayatollah Karimi's profession of neutrality all themore significant.

Oppositiongroups announce boycott

A union of four opposition groups based inside Iran has invitedIranians to boycott the upcoming presidential elections. The group,known as the Union of National Iranian Parties and Forces, iscomprised of the Iran Nation's Party, the Labor Party of Iran, theMovement for Freedom of Iran, and the People's Party of Iran. In astatement issued in Tehran on April 16, they called it a "nationalduty" of Iranians to boycott the elections, which they claimed werenot democratic and "do not adhere to the freedoms guaranteed in theconstitution of the Islamic Republic." [UNIPF statement4/16]

Nateq-Nourichallenged over UK visit

Majlis speaker Nateq-Nouri has come under intense fire in recentweeks, following public exposure of a secret trip to London by one ofhis top advisors, Dr. Mohammad Javad Larijani.

Larijani's early April trip to London and meeting with Mr.Nicholas Brown, the top Foreign Office secretary in charge of MiddleEast affairs, were first revealed when a reporter from Salam askedNateq-Nouri why Larijani had met with a British diplomat. "He had aprivate trip to London to see his son who is there for medicaltreatment," Nateq-Nouri replied, embarrassed. "While there, he had ameeting with a British diplomat at the Iranian embassy and prepared areport on the subjects they discussed."

Later, Salam revealed that Larijani gave assurances to the Britishdiplomat, Nicholas Brown, regarding "positive gestures" Nateq-Nouriwould make toward Britain after his election, in particular, that hewould "forget" about the fatwa against British author SalmanRushdie.

On Sunday, April 13, observers in Tehran reported that the fulltranscript of Larijani's London meeting, as typed up by the CodeDepartment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had been plastered allover the walls of Tehran university. [INP weekly bulletin,4/13].

The official daily Jomhouri-e Eslami, which expresses the views ofSupreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene'i, also joined the assault againstLarijani, accusing him of having told Nicholas Brown that the IslamicRepublic would protect German interests in Iran whatever the Mykonosverdict. Commented the paper: "if Larijani continues to clean hisblack file, more revelations will be made" to expose the "realintentions... of this isolated person." [Jomhouri-e Eslami4/13]

One week later, Morteza Nabavi, editor-in-chief of Resalat dailyand a major backer of Nateq-Nouri, told Akbar daily that he fullysupported Larijani's trip to Britain. "I believe that the opponentsof Hojj. Nateq-Nouri are trying to discredit him by misusing thenature of the meeting in London, which was an officially authorizedevent." [Akbar 4/20]

Presidentialoutsider calls for exiles' return

Outsider Presidential contender Said Rajai Khorasani, former UNrepresentative of the Islamic Republic, has called into question theeconomic policies of the Rafsanjani government and has vowed toinvite expatriate Iranians and their capital back to Iran if elected."Specific plans should be shaped to attract these Iranians to investin the country, a factor that would help make a better and healthiereconomic atmosphere in the country," he told Iran News. "As a resultof an unbalanced economy, people today are suffering at the hands ofinflation, overpricing, and economic recession."

Commenting on widespread corruption in the government, heacknowledged that "we occasionally become aware of the wrongs whenscandals are exposed publicly." Khorasani also claimed that he wasone of the opponents of banning the use of satellite dishes byIranians. [Iran News 4/11]

Mohammad Khatami attributed widespread bribery and embezzlement to"the unhealthy economic condition of individuals." Khatami, whorecently won the backing of Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, was addressing aclerical audience in Yazd. He believes two major problems face theIslamic Republic of Iran. "The issue is not merely one of Islamagainst the infidels. Today there is a multiplicity of economic andpolitical ideologies and schools of thought around the world againstwhich Islam is pitted. The other problem is that now the world is notas segregated as it once was, and communications have brought theworld much closer. Hence the ideologies and thoughts are now insideour homes and we can no longer close the door on them," he said.

Khatami pledged to appoint former Prime Minister Mir HusseinMussavi as his deputy if elected. He served in Mussavi's cabinet forseven years during the 1980s. [Salam, 3/30]

Another presidential candidate, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, believesthat Iran can have relations with all countries that have notdeclared war against it, even the United States. Lamenting the factthat IranÕs relations with certain countries are not cordialhe stressed that "we should not provide our enemies with excuses,turning our friends into enemies." Turning to economic issues, henoted that "parts of national wealth has been squandered by themonopolists. On the basis of the Article 42 of the constitution thewealth embezzled by some of the officials should be returned to thepublic treasury." He also pledged to appoint supporters ofNateq-Nouri and Khatami to his cabinet if elected. [Tehran Times,4/10]

Temporarymarriages are worse that AIDS

A reader of the Tehran daily Salam called the paper's famous "AlloSalam" answering machine, to comment on President RafsanjaniÕsrecent remarks on the issue of "Sigheh" or temporary marriages, apractice viewed as legalized prostitution by many Iranians.Rafsanjani justified in his interview with CBS 60 Minutescorrespondent Mike Wallace in March, saying "sometimes men are awayfrom home on a trip or cannot afford to marry permanently; and thereare women who have been widowed..."

The irate reader told Salam he had two daughters and, as a father,he considered temporary marriage "as a scourge worse that AIDS. Thematter has never been helpful and never will be."

Salam assured the reader that Rafsanjani had only meant that "thearrangement suited widows [young widows of the Iran-Iraqwar]. We believe that basically the scheme of temporary marriagewill not help young unmarried men who are deprived because of theirfinancial circumstances. The scheme should mostly help the lonelywomen who have lost their husbands. Here Islam permits eligible men,who for various reasons cannot enter into permanent marriagecontracts, to marry these women on a temporary basis." [Salam,4/8]

Brotherof slain publisher calls for embargo

The younger brother of the slain publisher and intellectualEbrahim Zalzadeh has called for an international ban on Iranian oiland gas. Appearing in a news conference in Stockholm before Swedishand Iranian journalists, Mr. Hussein Zalzadeh made a plea to the Westto cut off TehranÕs lifeline by imposing a total oil embargo."Mr. Khamene'i says that international isolation of Iran would be asweet gift of God. OK. Boycott their oil and gas and we shall see howlong they last," he said. Zalzadeh was speaking at a memorialceremony organized by the Swedish Branch of the Association of theIranian Writers in exile (AIW).

Also attending was Abbas MaÕrufi, another well-knownIranian writer who recently went into exile and who was a closefriend of Ebrahim Zalzadeh. He claimed that Zalzadeh had "bigtrouble" with the regime "but then the time was too short and theykilled him, as they did with SaÕidi Sirjani and many otherwriters, intellectuals and dissidents."

The body of Ebrahim Zalzadeh, publisher of the printing house"Ebtekar" [Initiative] was discovered 34 days after hisdisappearance in a Tehran suburb. He died of knife wounds. [IranPress Service, 4/18]

More on pressban against Tus editor

As we reported in last week's Newswire, the members ofKhorasanÕs Press Court (the 11th District Court) have foundthe editor-in-chief of Tus weekly, Mohammad Sadeq-Javadi-Hesar,guilty of "fomenting public opinion." His arrest was based on acomplaint filed by the executive manager of the Mashad ReligiousSeminary and the head of KhorasanÕs justice department.

Judge Mohammad Shams Gilani told Resalat newspaper that the juryalso decided that his sentence could not be reduced. The sentencingdate was set for later in April. The juryÕs deliberationlasted for about an hour. [Resalat, 4/9]

Tariq-al-Qodsmaneuvers to begin in the Persian Gulf

Huge amphibious military exercises, code-named Tariq-al-Qods[Path to Jerusalem], are scheduled to be held in the PersianGulf and parts of the Oman Sea during the last week of April, IRNAannounced. IRGC commander Major General Mohsen Rezai told theofficial news agency that "the maneuvers aim to test the ability ofthe IRGC personnel to [enter] into action rapidly and catchenemies by surprise in event of potential threats to Iran," andspecifically referred to the presence of U.S. navy ships in thePersian Gulf. [IRNA 4/15]

In a subsequent statement to IRNA, he said that the exercises wereintended to "improve the political atmosphere of the country" on theeve of the presidential elections. He also denounced theU.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks, and said the Islamic Republicwas seeking to establish a "regional security and defense cooperationsystem" with "no reliance on foreign forces." [IRNA 4/20]

120 satellitereceivers seized

The ideological-political department of the Law Enforcement Forcehas arrested 75 "smugglers" and seized 120 satellite dishes in recentraids, the official Jomhouri-e Eslami daily has announced. In itszeal, the LEF has also seized 11,644 head scarves, 2,313 pieces offoreign-manufactured clothing, and an unspecified number ofcentral-heating radiators and other domestic appliances, for reasonsunknown. [Jomhouri-e Eslami 4/10].

The seizure of the satellite receivers comes at a time when thedeputy head of the Voice and Vision Organization [Iranian Radioand Television IRIB] announced in Mashad that this summer hisnetwork will begin broadcasting via satellite to Europe 24 programsin Persian, English, and Arabic. [IRNA 4/13]

It would seem that the Islamic Republic has nothing againstsatellite broadcasting, as long as its citizens on not on thereceiving end...

Azeri-Iran relationsstrained

The recent conviction of four leaders of Azerbaijan's IslamicParty on charges of spying for Iran has escalated tensions betweenBaku and Tehran. The leader of the party, Ali Akram Alyiovo, wassentenced to 11 years in jail. A commentary by Tehran Voice of theIslamic Republic of Iran in English likened to the trial to the Showtrials conducted in the 1930s in the former Soviet Union. Thecommentary warned Azerbaijan's intelligence forces against anyfurther crackdown against the Islamic Party, which is believed to befinanced and backed by Tehran. [IRIB 4/15]

The convictions came days after Majlis Speaker Ali AkbarNateq-Nouri sharply criticized Azeri President Geidar Aliev for hisposition on the Caspian Sea pipeline routes... which are going tobypass Iran because of the Islamic Republic's radical policies andsupport for international terrorism. Nateq-Nouri accused Aliev, whois eager to deal with Western oil companies to develop the Caspianoil and gas deposits, of being a Western lackey. "It is a historicdream of the United States to gain a solid foothold in the CaspianSea after the Persian Gulf," the Majlis speaker told Russianreporters during his trip to Moscow. "Superpowers always use localfactors for penetrating into another region." [Moscow Interfax,4/12]

Velayati isscolded by Tehran daily

A Saudi-backed paper published in London, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat,claimed recently that the Islamic Republic Foreign Minister Ali AkbarVelayati recently gave assurances to his Egyptian counterpart, AmrMusa, that Tehran Iran would not assist terrorists opposed to theEgyptian government or provide safe haven to them in Iran.

Quoting Egyptian sources, the paper also said Velayati haddeclared his readiness to cooperate with the Egyptian security forcesand exchange information regarding the activities of Egyptianextremists, and invited Egyptian Interior Minister Hasan al-Alfi tovisit Tehran to discuss security issues.

What's remarkable about all this is the way it was reported by theofficial Jomhouri-e Eslami in Tehran. The paper chided Velayati fornot denying the reports, which it called "disgraceful propagandatactics aimed at overcoming [Egypt's own] internal problems."The Arabic news account was trying "to project an impression that theIslamic Republic of Iran has adopted a softer and more flexibleposture regarding the contemptible stance of the Cairo regime towardthe Israeli usurper and presumably concurs with the continuingtreachery of the Cairo regime" - fighting words, indeed.

The paper concluded: "One should not overlook that it is thesilence of the Foreign Ministry in this regard and its hesitation indenying these falsehoods that have motivated Cairo to capitalizeagain on this atrophied ploy...This is why it is not expedient tokeep silent." [Jomhouri-e Eslami, 4/6]

No nukes, IRNA says

IranÕs Atomic Energy Organization has denied claimsbroadcast by a Russian television network that had quoted IAEO headReza Amrollahi as saying Iran had the scientific capability toproduce a nuclear bomb. The report, which focused on the cooperationbetween Iran and Russia on the construction of the Bushehr nuclearpower plant, said that nuclear material produced at the power plantscould be used for military purposes. IRNA officially denied thereport, stating that Iran has announced repeatedly that it adheres tothe nuclear nonproliferation treaty and thus has no intention ofdeveloping nuclear weapons. [IRNA 4/15]

Iraniansarrested for illegally entering Kuwait

The Kuwaiti security forces have arrested 17 Iranians who weretrying to enter the country illegally by sea. The Iranians werespotted on Thursday by the Coast Guard as they were trying to enterMina Abdullah, a port south of Kuwait City, in wooden boats. TheCoast Guard eventually discovered that 23 more Iranians in the samegroup had managed to flee before the security forces arrived.[AFP 4/20]