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May 2000, Week 4
|Iranian Hard-Liner Withdraws||May 27|
|Shops Owned by Jews Attacked in Iran||May 26|
|IRAN'S Judiciary Orders Closure of Reformist Paper||May 25|
|Iranian Students Stage Protest Against Election Results||May 24|
|Winners at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival||May 23|
|Iranian Factions Begin Maneuvering for Leadership of Parliament||May 22|
Iranian Hard-Liner Withdraws
By Afshin Valinejad
Associated Press Writer|
TEHRAN, Iran -Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani resigned Thursday from the incoming parliament, state radio announced, depriving hard-liners of a leading figure in the power struggle between conservatives and reformists.
Rafsanjani was expected to be nominated by hard-line legislators for the influential post of parliamentary speaker. The new parliament convenes on Saturday.
His decision came a day after reformists who have aligned themselves behind President Mohammad Khatami shouted slogans against him at a Tehran University demonstration.
In a letter from the ex-president, broadcast on Thursday, he announced his withdrawal from the slate of legislators elected to parliament on Feb. 18.
"I appreciate those who voted for me and I respect those who did not," the letter quoted Rafsanjani as saying. "I entered the election race to try to protect national unity and I withdraw now for the same reason."
Later the radio quoted Rafsanjani as blaming his withdrawal on "a heavy volume of negative and false propaganda" against him in recent months.
Rafsanjani was the most prominent hard-liner to win a seat in the 290-seat parliament, or Majlis. However, reformist candidates won the most votes in the polls, taking control of the parliament for the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
The election's initial vote count showed reformist candidates winning 29 of the 30 seats in the capital, Tehran. The 30th-ranked seat was won by Rafsanjani, a result widely seen as humiliating for a former president and influential member of the ruling hierarchy.
However, the Guardian Council, a hard-line body that supervised the polls, alleged widespread fraud in Tehran and began a recount.
Earlier this month, the council announced the final results for the capital city, giving only 26 seats to reformists. Two seats went to hard-liners, including one to Rafsanjani, and two reformists' victories annulled.
The results showed Rafsanjani had jumped to No. 20 in the list of successful candidates in Tehran.
Rafsanjani was president from 1989-97 and served two terms previously as speaker of the parliament.
He remains a powerful figure as the head of the Expediency Council, a policy-making body, and as a key adviser to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Shops Owned by Jews Attacked in Iran
By Afshin Valinejad|
Associated Press Writer
SHIRAZ, Iran - The ongoing espionage trial of 13 Jews in Iran has led to angry attacks on Jewish businesses, including one arson, a Jewish leader said Wednesday.
"This trial has created problems for the whole Jewish community in Iran," Haroun Yashayaii, head of Iran's Jewish society, said outside the courthouse as proceedings resumed in the southern city of Shiraz.
Many in Iran's 25,000-strong Jewish community have described being socially isolated since state television broadcast footage showing two of the defendants confessing. School children are treating Jewish classmates with contempt, and some adults have stopped going to work out of fear or shame.
"I have documents showing that several shops owned by Jews were attacked, and one was set on fire in Tehran," Yashayaii said. Police confirmed the arson attack, he said, but gave no other details.
The trial Wednesday focused on testing inconsistencies in the defendants' confessions, defense lawyer Esmail Naseri said. Eight of the defendants have confessed to spying for Israel, and six were in court Wednesday, face to face for the first time since the trial began.
But in court the suspects could not account for the incongruities, Naseri said. "Every time we pointed out an inconsistency to the defendant, he would say, 'I can't explain it.'"
Asked if he thought the defendants had been forced to confess and had been told by Iranian authorities what to say, Naseri said: "I don't know. This is very strange."
Yashayaii said those who had confessed should undergo psychological examinations "to determine if the defendants even know what they are saying. I don't believe a word they have said in their confessions."
Naseri said that any confessions made after 15 months in jail could not be considered valid because of the psychological pressure.
Israel has denied the spying charges, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has warned Iran that the trial's outcome could have international repercussions.
The state's case is based almost entirely on the eight confessions, but defense lawyers say prosecutors must show that secret information damaging to Iran actually changed hands.
Naseri again criticized the closed, no-jury court, where Judge Sadeq Nourani also acts as prosecutor.
"I don't blame the judge, I blame the primitive and reactionary law that allows the revolutionary courts, where the judge is equivalent to God. Nobody can touch him, nobody has any control," said Naseri, a former revolutionary court judge.
The six who appeared in court Wednesday were Dani Tefilin, Shahrokh Paknahad, Javid Bent-Yacoub, Farhad Seleh and brothers Farzad and Farhad Kashi. Tefilin's and Paknahad's confessions were shown on television.
Three defendants who were out on bail since February pleaded innocent in court Monday. One other jailed man pleaded innocent, and one admitting passing secret information to Israel, but only out of religious conviction.
Iranian Jews numbered 80,000 before the 1979 Islamic revolution, and still constitute the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel. They are generally allowed to practice their religion freely, but cannot travel to or have any contact with Iran's arch foe, Israel.
IRAN'S Judiciary Orders Closure of Reformist Paper
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Iran's conservative judiciary has ordered a reformist Persian daily to stop publication after publishing only one issue, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Tuesday.
In a letter to the Domestic Media Department of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Tehran's Justice Department ordered the paper to stop publication until further notice, according to Saeed Haqi, publisher of the daily Mellat (the Nation). |
The first issue of the paper only hit stands on Monday. Haqi said ahead of the publication that the paper aimed to reflect the voice of the "silent majority." Iran's conservative judiciary had ordered the closure of 17 reformist papers and journals in April for so-called reasons of violating Islamic principles and advocating American-style reforms.
The measure was part of a stepped-up conservative effort to crack down on the country's reformist campaign fostered by President Mohammad Khatami since he took office in 1997. Khatami's reformist allies won an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary election in February, ending the long-time conservative control of the legislative body.
The result, however, annoyed the conservative hardliners, who have since taken tough measures to undermine the reformist influence and strengthen their control of the Islamic regime.
Iranian Students Stage Protest Against Election Results
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- About 3,000 student demonstrators accused the hard-line Guardian Council on Monday of tampering with Iran's parliamentary election results, joining a barrage of criticism from reformist politicians and media.
The council, which oversees elections, finalized results for the February race in the capital only Saturday. It awarded reformists 26 seats in Tehran and hard-liners two. Two other reformist victories were annulled.
The initial vote count -- done jointly by the council and the pro-reform Interior Ministry -- had shown 29 of the capital's 30 seats going to reformists. Reformists hailed the February election as the freest and fairest since the 1979 Islamic revolution. But the head of the council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, alleged widespread ballot fraud.
"Shame, shame Jannati, give up the fraud," the students chanted at the Tehran University protest. The Interior Ministry also denied the election irregularities. Student demonstrators denounced the council for delaying the results for several recounts and for promoting a leading hard-liner, President Hashemi Rafsanjani, from 30th to 20th place. The top 30 candidates secured seats.
"Hashemi, Hashemi, let go of the country!" the students chanted. Despite his low showing in the polls, hard-liners still harbor hopes of thrusting Rafsanjani into the position of Parliament speaker.
Monday's protesters remained inside the university compound, because the Interior Ministry had refused to issue a permit for a street demonstration. Many carried portraits of jailed reformist Abdollah Nouri, former nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and other top reformers jailed by the hard-liners. Iran is caught up in an intense struggle between allies of reformist President Mohammad Khatami and Islamic hard-liners trying to cling to power. The Guardian Council has called on the judiciary to prosecute Interior Ministry officials for alleged irregularities in the vote count.
Winners at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival
Awards given Sunday at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival, selected by a 10-member jury headed by French director Luc Besson: |
Palme d'Or (Golden Palm): "Dancer in the Dark," Lars von Trier, Denmark
Grand Prize: "Devils on the Doorstep," Jiang Wen, China
Jury Prize: "Blackboards," Samira Makhmalbaf, Iran; "Songs from the Second Floor," Roy Andersson, Sweden
Best Director: "Yi Yi (A One and a Two)" Edward Yang, Taiwan
Best Actor: Tony Leung, "In the Mood for Love," Hong Kong
Best Actress: Bjork, "Dancer in the Dark," Denmark
Special Mention: Cast of "The Wedding," Pavel Lounguine, Russia and France
Best Screenplay: "Nurse Betty," John C. Richards and James Flamberg, U.S.A.
Golden Camera (first-time director): "Djomeh," Hassan Yektapanah, Iran; "A Time for Drunken Horses," Bahman Ghobadi, Iran
Iranian Factions Begin Maneuvering for Leadership of Parliament
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Reformists and hard-liners began maneuvering Sunday for their next big showdown: the powerful speaker's post in the new parliament, which opens next week.
Hard-liners who lost control of the Majlis, or parliament, for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution are determined to push their candidate, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. He faces stiff opposition by reformist groups that dominate the new legislature.
The reformists, who are allied with President Mohammad Khatami, have thrown their support behind two other contenders -- Mehdi Karrubi, a former speaker who was once a hard-liner, and Mohsen Mirdamadi, a career civil servant who is otherwise viewed as something of a political lightweight.
The speaker holds the No. 3 position in Iran after the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the president. He is a member of the National Security Council and the Constitutional Review Council and can lobby support for bills.
The parliament is expected to be the new arena for the ongoing power struggle between Khamenei and the hard-liners and those who back Khatami's program of social, political and cultural reforms. The hard-liners, who still wield considerable power, cite Islam to oppose the reforms.
In an apparent backlash to their election defeat, the hard-liners closed down 18 pro-reform newspapers and jailed several reformists.
Ali-Reza Nouri, a legislator-elect of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, told The Associated Press that his party will nominate Mirdamadi for the speaker's post. The Participation Front is the most powerful reformist party following its victory in the Feb. 18 legislative polls.
Smaller pro-reform groups back Karrubi. "I'm ready to accept the speaker's position," the Abrar daily newspaper on Sunday quoted Karrubi as saying. The reformists' victory in the polls became final after the hard-line Guardian Council endorsed the results Saturday following a delay of more than three months. The hard-liners have less than a quarter of the seats in the 290-member house. A breakdown of the number of seats controlled by each party will not be known until after the parliament begins its session on May 28. Elections are not contested on party lines and only informal affiliations of candidates are known.
Many of the prominent reformists, including the top three vote getters in the capital, Tehran, have little or no experience in government. Most of them owe their victories to name recognition. Mohmmad-Reza Khatami is the president's brother, Jamileh Kadivar is the wife of the culture minister, and Ali-Reza Nouri is the brother of Abdollah Nouri, a former interior minister and top presidential aide who is serving a five-year jail term for religious dissent.
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