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June 1998, Week 2

FarsiNet FarsiNews

Featuring latest Iran's soccer news from World Cup in France

Yugoslavia 1, Iran 0 June 14
Iranian Players Hold Late Ceremony June 14
Iran Journalists Cancel U.S. Trip June 14
Iran Team Has Impact on French Town June 13
Iran in world cup June 10
House Passes Iran Sanctions Bill June 10
Clinton says no to interview with Iranians June 9
From Their Homeland to Fertile Soil June 5


Yugoslavia 1, Iran 0
SAINT-ETIENNE, France (AP)- A trademark free kick by Sinisa Mihajlovic gave a 1-0 victory over Iran on Sunday.

In a game between two countries returning to the World Cup following politically related a bsences, Mihajlovic took the kick from about 25 yards, slightly to the left of the goal.

Mihajlovic is famous for scoring such crucial goals and curved his low shot around the Iranian wall to beat diving goalkeeper Nima Nakis a in the 73rd minute.

A tie between these teams would have greatly helped the United States, which plays in the same group. The U.S. team opens play against Germany Monday.

The Iranians, making their first World Cup appearance since the Islamic revolution, played defensively, making frequent but ineffective counterattacks.

And they appeared tired in the second half, perhaps because of a lengthy religious ceremony the team held the previous night. Instead of getting a full night's sleep, the Iranian team was awake until midnight performing a ritual in which players beat their chests and wept for the death of a 7th century Shiite saint.

But attacker Ali Daei, who plays in Germany's Bundesliga, nearly tied the game when he soared over two Yugoslav defenders to head a cros s into the arms of Yugoslavia's goalie Ivica Kralj with three minutes remaining.

Yugoslav striker Predrag Mijatovic was well guarded for most of the match. His one opportunity came in the 82nd minute when Nakisa palme d away his shot from 8 yards after Mijatovic had drilled his way into the Iranian box.

Yugoslavia was barred from all sporting events - including the 1994 World Cup in the United States - after its forces attacked Muslim Sl avs during the Bosnian war. The country now is shelling Muslim Albanians in Kosovo province, a move that may invite U.S.-led NATO airstr ikes. Iran's Islamic government supports Muslims in Bosnia and Albania.

Iranian Players Hold Late Ceremony
YSSINGEAUX, France (AP) -- Much to the dismay of the coach, Iranian soccer players gave up hours of needed sleep before their World Cup debut to participate in a lengthy, late-night Islamic ceremony.

Held to mourn a seventh-century Shiite Muslim saint, the ceremony took place at the insistence of the Iranian Embassy in Paris, accordin g to Iranian reporters.

Players wept as a religious teacher recounted the death of Imam Hussein. His passing is considered the most important event in the Shiit e calendar.

Reporters who were invited to the ceremony at a chateau where the team is housed said the three-hour ritual began with the traditional e ulogy and ended just before midnight.

Coach Jalal Talebi was displeased that players had to attend, rather than getting a good night's sleep, the reporters said.

Hours later Sunday afternoon, Iran lost to Yugoslavia 1-0, with neither team looking particularly formidable.

But Talebi saw something he liked. ``After today, I believe we can beat any team,'' he said. ``We are looking forward to a victory again st the United States.''

The two nations meet on June 21. President Mohammad Khatami has been trying ease relations with the United States ever since he became p resident last August. But his powerful hard-line opponents want no warming of ties.

In Iran, 20 hard-line legislators have written to Khatami, urging him to order players not to exchange T-shirts with the Americans after their match.

Iran Journalists Cancel U.S. Trip
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A group of Iranian journalists canceled a trip to the United States, apparently fearing they might anger hard-liner s in the ruling clergy, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The eight journalists, including chief editors of Iran's main papers, were to leave for Washington this week to attend a June 17 seminar at the Middle East Institute, Farda newspaper said.

But they decided not to go because the trip became ``politicized,'' Farda said.

The journalists had been granted an interview with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which evidently put them in a difficult positi on: They didn't want to upset the hard-liners or refuse to see Albright.

The journalists were also to meet with newspaper officials and several congressmen.

The United States severed ties with Iran after revolutionary militants overthrew the U.S.-backed shah and stormed the American Embassy i n Tehran in 1979. They held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

But moderate President Mohammad Khatami, who took office in August, has called for cultural exchanges between Iran and the United States .

Meanwhile, the publisher of a liberal Iranian newspaper charged with unethical reporting was released on bail Sunday, the official Islam ic Republic News Agency reported.

But soon after Mohammad Mahdavi Khorrami, publisher of the Gozaresh-e-Ruz daily was released, its chief editor, Mohammed Aqazadeh, was s ummoned to court, the agency said. It did not say why.

Khorrami was arrested Wednesday after ignoring a court summons.

The newspaper stopped publication last week after the government Press Supervisory Board charged it with violating press ethics. The Jus tice Ministry is reviewing the complaint.

The newspaper started publishing only last month. On its third day, it printed a front-page color picture of a teen-age boy with a teen- age girl wearing a head scarf. Iran's strict Islamic code prohibits dating and its constitution forbids the media from propagating ``ant i-Islamic attitudes.''

Iran Team Has Impact on French Town
By Anwar Faruqi
YSSINGEAUX, France (AP) -- The arrival of Iran's World Cup team has been something of a foreign invasion in this quiet town in the heart of France, where a church bell tolls the hours and Paris is as far as most residents have ever traveled.

None of the residents have seen the players since they came to this town of 7,000 people on Sunday. They are holed up under tight security in a 19th-century chateau that is now a famous pastry school.

But in town, posters of the team and paper Iranian flags are plastered on shop windows. The bookstore sells a video called ``Iran's Remarkable Women.'' The town hall houses an exhibition of precious Persian carpets and handicrafts.

The Iranians wanted a quiet place where their players would not face distracting Western influences. Local women, such as media coordinators, were asked to dress modestly in the presence of players.

Town officials did what they could to lure the team to the town.

``We wanted to put Yssingeaux on the map, and having a World Cup team stay here was the best way of doing it,'' said Deputy Mayor Jacques Barrot.

The Iranians have brought business, but some residents don't like the foreigners with their strange customs, and the media invasion.

``Some people like the Iranians here, and others don't. That's just the way the French are,'' said Jean-Claude Rerole, proprietor of the Cactus Sports shop. ``I, for one, think it's very, very good for the town.''

Despite the cultural exchange, there are still reminders of the two decades of hostilities that have characterized relations between Iran and the West.

The woman on the cover of the video on sale at the bookstore -- Iranian Vice President Massoumeh Ebtekar -- was the strident spokeswoman for the militants who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

But ever since Mohammad Khatami took over as president last August, Iran has been trying to soften its international image. Housing the soccer team in Yssingeaux is part of that effort.

``We wanted to sow the seeds of Iranian goodwill in the heart of France, in a virgin place like this town where it would grow,'' said Mohammad Navah, organizer of the exhibition.

Yssingeaux is not the only small town in France with an Iranian connection. Nearly 20 years ago, the town of Neauphle le Chateau near Paris was home to the exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini before he returned to Iran to lead the Islamic revolution that overthrew the U.S.-supported shah.

Iran in world cup
From:USA Today
Iran has been a force in Asian soccer over the years, but it is a relative newcomer to global competition. The national team only became affiliated with FIFA in 1945, and made its first international appearance at the 1964 Olympics. Iran has participated in only one other World Cup final, in 1978, and they finished last in their group with an 0-2-1 record. Iran qualified for France 98 in dramatic fashion. They were down 2-0 to Australia in Melbourne, but two goals in the final 14 minutes evened the score. That tied the series, and Iran earned the berth because it had scored more away goals (2-1).

Iran's coaching situation has been a source of controversy recently. The squad was set to enter Cup competition with Tomislav Ivic, a 63-year-old veteran with vast experience with club teams in Europe. However, with less than a month to go before the start of the World Cup, the Iranians fired Ivic after a 7-1 loss to AS Roma in an exhibition game and replaced him with Jalal Talebi. How Iran settled on Ivic was also intriguing. In November 1997, head man Mohammad Myeli Kohan was fired after an embarrassing loss to Qatar. He was replaced by Vadeir Vieira. Iran never won a game under Vieira, but they did qualify for France under his direction. Despite their qualification, Iran wanted a more high-profile coach to guide the national team. After an extensive search, the Iranian Football Federation said that Vieira would be retained. Then, after a shakeup in the IFF hierarchy, Vieira was let go and Ivic was hired. ''Under Ivic, the national soccer team was steadily approaching a dead end and the crushing defeat by AS Roma paved the way for his dismissal,'' team manager Nasser Noamouz said.

Iran's top players are Karim Bagheri, Khodadad Azizi and Ali Daei. All three play in the German Bundesliga. Bagheri showed just how dangerous he can be in a qualifying match with Maldives. He netted six goals, three in each half, to lead Iran to an unbelievable 17-0 victory. Daei, 29, broke his cheekbone during Arminia Bielefeld's 2-1 victory May 2 against Cologne in German Bundesliga play. Initial reports said he will be out 4-6 weeks, but he is expected to play in France.

Argentina is in Group H, along with Japan, Jamaica and Croatia.

Iran is in the Middle East between Iraq and Pakistan, and it borders the Caspian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It is a relatively small nation. Iran's total area is slightly larger than the state of Alaska. Iran's climate is arid, with a subtropical area along the Caspian coast. The terrain of the country varies from plains, to deserts, to mountains. It has elevation extremes of -28 m near the Caspian Sea to 5,671 m at Qolleh-ye Damavand. Its natural resources include: coal, copper, chromium, lead, iron ore, manganese, natural gas, petroleum, sulfur and zinc.

Iran is a theocratic republic made up of 25 provinces. Its legal system and Constitution codify Islamic principles of government. There is chief of state who serves as supreme leader, a president who serves as the head of government, a cabinet called the Council of Ministers. The supreme leader is appointed for life by the Council of Experts; the president is elected by popular vote for a four-year term.

There is a unicameral legislative branch of government called the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and a Supreme Court serves as the Judicial branch of the nation. There are no political parties in Iran.

Iran's economy is heavily dependent on the export of oil. Oil earnings account for 85% of the nation's total export revenue. Iran also has a mix of village agriculture, small-scale private trading, service venues and state ownership of other large enterprises. In the early 1990s, Iran had an import surge that caused a financial crisis. Iran rescheduled billions of dollars of debt, with the hope that an improved oil market would relieve some financial pressures. The market is strong right now, and Iran's financial situation may improve if the current situation persists for a few more years.

House Passes Iran Sanctions Bill
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has given final congressional approval to legislation imposing sanctions on nations exporting mi ssile technology to Iran, but President Clinton has said he will veto it.

The eventual outcome is uncertain since the measure passed both the House and Senate by strong, veto-proof majorities.

The House vote Tuesday was 392-22 on a Senate version passed 90-4 last month.

The bill is aimed mainly at Russia, which members of Congress say has helped Iran refine its missile delivery system. But it would apply to any foreign government or business that supplies ballistic-missile technology to Iran.

It would give the president 30 days to send to Congress a list of violators. Sanctions, including denial of arms export licen ses and American aid for two years, would be automatic, although the president would have the authority to waive sanctions in the interest of national security.

The measure also includes a chemical weapons treaty implementation bill passed by the Senate last year but never taken up by the House. The administration supports that, but is unhappy about linking the treaty matter to the sanctions bill.

``The Russian government has nothing to fear if it acts in good faith,'' said Rep. Ben Gilman, R-N.Y., chairman of the House International Relations Committee. ``It's only if Russia does not enforce its declared policy that they need fear any sanctio ns under this legislation.''

The administration complains that the standards for sanctions in the bill are too broad and ``imposition of erroneous sanctio ns could not only harm U.S. political and economic relationships with other nations, but could dissuade foreign governments o r persons from cooperating with the United States to prevent the transfer of missile technology to Iran.''

Already, under the 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, the president can impose sanctions on foreign companies that invest $20 million or more a year in Iran's oil and gas sectors.

The bill is HR 2709.

Clinton says no to interview with Iranians
TEHRAN (Reuters) - The White House has turned down a request by Iranian journalists to interview President Bill Clinton, a Tehran newspaper said on Tuesday.

The Iran Daily quoted informed sources in Tehran as saying an option for Iranian reporters to meet U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had been left open.

President Mohammad Khatami, in an interview with CNN in January, promoted the idea of a "dialogue of civilisations" and called for more unofficial contacts between Iran and the United States to crack the "wall of mistrust" between the two countries.

From Their Homeland to Fertile Soil
By Elissa Leibowitz
Special to The Washington Post
Mani Kordestany switched careers and moved to Loudoun County a decade ago for the same reasons many recent transplants do: Her job began to dissatisfy her, and the noise, traffic and stress of urban life became o verwhelming.

Unlike many of her neighbors, however, Kordestany wasn't escaping from the city 50 miles to the east. Her city was much farther east than that, across the Atlantic Ocean and thousands of miles from the 22 acres s he and her brother and sister purchased near Hillsboro.

Kordestany, 63, a Western-educated ophthalmologist and Paris-trained chef, moved to Loudoun from Tehran, f ollowing the lead of her younger brother, Darvish Kordestani, an international lawyer whose lifelong desir e was to be a farmer.

With their oldest sister, Roxana Kordestani, a former personnel administrator for an Iranian chemical comp any, Mani and Darvish left their careers and their homes in the heart of Iran's bustling capital in favor of a simpler life: growing 50,000 garden plants, decorative grasses, herbs and vegetables in one small fi eld and one small greenhouse on Kord Farm.

"I just didn't want to wear high heels anymore," said Mani Kordestany, the most independent and excitable of the siblings, who spells her family name differently than the others do -- and now wears rubber work bo ots every day. "I didn't want to go sit in a small room looking into people's eyes anymore."

The three siblings operate the farm together. Mani and Roxana live in a large house on the property, and D arvish commutes from McLean, where he purchased a house before finding the farm. Each takes a different ro le on the farm that amplifies his or her personality.

Last Sunday, during the annual Spring Farm Tour of the Loudoun Valleys, Mani Kordestany advised customers on which organic products to purchase and rustled upDarvish's children -- his 13-year-old daughter, Negar , and 10-year-old son, Dara -- to pick strawberries at nearby Crooked Run Orchard.

Darvish Kordestani, 58, is the farm's bright-faced businessman. Although he talked briefly with some visit ors, he mostly kept to himself, checking the greenhouse and watering the plants, dabbing his forehead peri odically with a paper towel.

Roxana Kordestani, 68, is the shy, quiet, motherly type -- the "backbone of Kord Farm," as her sister call ed her. She avoided the heat and remained in the small store inside the barn, ringing up purchases and kee ping a watchful eye on Negar and Dara.

"The beauty of working with relatives," Mani Kordestany joked, "is that one day we can kill each other, an d the next day we are friends. It is easy."

Both Roxana and Mani use fresh herbs from their garden to cook Middle Eastern meals. Negar and Dara visit on weekends to dine with their aunts and help on the farm.

"In McLean, we don't have this big area," Dara said. "Here we can, like, run away and play in the flowers and smell all these flowers."

The Kordestanis' background is Kurdish, which describes a small ethnic sect in Iran and other parts of Asi a whose families generally live in rural areas and farm the land. The siblings' grandfather was the leader of a tribe based in a rural part of Iran. He sent his son Aziz -- the siblings' father -- to be schooled in the United States in 1919.

"It was very rare, but they did it anyway," Mani said.

Like their father, an optometrist in Tehran, all three siblings graduated from the University of Californi a at Berkeley. After college, they returned to Tehran to begin their careers and spent time living and vac ationing in Paris. Darvish is the only one who married.

After the political unrest of the late 1970s -- when opponents of the shah united under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, took over the government and later seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 Americ ans hostage for more than a year -- all three siblings decided they wanted to leave in search of personal freedom and new careers.

Darvish, however, felt tied to his clients, some of whom were Americans who needed help leaving Iran. He s tayed for nine years, moving between Tehran and Paris, until he finally arranged to move to the United Sta tes in 1988 -- still bent on farming.

"He used to tell me, 'This is my dream,' " said Darvish's wife, Mercedeh.

Mani came the same year, and Roxana arrived in 1991.

After settling in Fairfax County and enrolling his children in school, Darvish decided that he wanted to w ork in Loudoun, despite the commute. He searched for three months to find the perfect plot and said he fel l in love with the land his family now owns, between Hillsboro and Purcellville near Short Hill Mountain.< p> Darvish attended farming seminars and consulted county agriculture sources, but he said most of what he kn ows about vegetable farming he learned on his own.

"There's no book that you can read and then you are a farmer," he said. "Sixty to 70 percent is learning b y experience. You have to be self-taught."

The siblings' upbringing in Tehran, which emphasized healthy eating, and the liberal lifestyle in Berkeley influenced their deci sion not to use chemical pesticides on their crops. Produce from Kord Farm is cert ified organic by the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.

But they say their lives are healthier not only because of the foods they eat but because they have given up most forms of man-made stress. During the Spring Farm Tour, the Kordestani family had several house gue sts from Virginia Beach, Paris and Tehran.

"I bring them here," Mani Kordestany said. "I tell them, 'You'll lose weight here. You'll feel better.' "


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