Summary of Today's BroadcastRFE/RL Persian ServiceMonday, September 16, 2002
- Writes Association protests judiciary's summons
- Press court closes youth newspaper and weekly magazine
- Akbar Ganji calls for secular democracy
- Both factions of Islamic student unions declared legitimate
- Women's sky diving club
- Spread of prostitution
- Decline of the middle class
- RFE/RL Roundtable
Writers Association Protests Summons
The Iranian Writers Association protested the judiciary's summoning of its members for interrogation in an open letter issued in Tehran today. Lawyer and human rights author Shirin Ebadi, literary critic Javad Mojabi and novelist Ali Salehi were the latest in a long list of writers summoned for questioning by courts or judiciary officials.
* Prominent poet and IWA board member Simin Behbahani tells RFE/RL that at a branch of the judiciary in Tehran's Arg Square, Mojabi and Salehi were questioned about their relation with jailed journalist Siamak Pourzand and were asked to provide phone numbers of their colleagues. She adds that IWA meetings are open to everyone, including non-members (Golnaz Esfandiari)
Judiciary Closes Youth Newspaper after Only 15 Issues
The press court ordered "Golestan-e Iran" (Iran's Rose Garden), a new daily aimed at young readers and edited by university students, to close only after 15 issues. The court order cited a complaint by "attorney general" as the reason for the closure, accusing the newspaper of printing "immoral" and "anti-regime propaganda."
* Golestan editor Amin Bozorgian tells RFE/RL that the court order is vague and indefensible since it did not cite any article. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
Judiciary Closes Cultural Weekly "Vaqt (Time)"
The press court closed cultural weekly "Vaqt (Time)," citing complaints by the Basij units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the police, and the head of the Tehran judiciary acting as attorney general. They accused Vaqt of exploiting images of women, promoting "decadent culture" and pre-revolutionary celebrities.
* Vaqt editor Faramarz Qarabaghi tells RFE/RL that the weekly had printed articles about young people's social problems and the deprivations that lead to abnormal behavior and criminal activities. He called the court order vague and indefensible, since it does not cite any particular picture or article. However, he says the court order may have been a reaction to Vaqt articles criticizing pre-revolutionary pop singers now living in exile in Los Angeles and an interview, first of its kind in post-revolutionary Iran, with a woman pop singer, who is allowed to perform in women only concerts. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
Jailed Journalist Akbar Ganji Issues Manifesto
* In a manifesto that appeared on foreign-based Internet sites, jailed investigative journalist Akbar Ganji said the failure of the reform movement has resulted in social despair and the decline of morality. He called for the establishment of a secular democracy in Iran and said the 23 years experience of the Islamic Republic proved that religion and democracy do not mix. He asked Iranians to resist the regime through civil disobedience and said by ignoring the judiciary's summons, writers and journalists should force the Supreme Leader to resort to more violence against them. He admitted that he and his generation of Islamic revolutionaries committed intellectual despotism when they resisted the Shah's government in favor of an Islamic government. He accused the Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Khomeini of duplicity for promising democracy in his statements before the revolution. The manifesto marks an about face for Ganji, who was a pro-Khatami reformist and promoted "religious democracy." Ganji was sentenced to six months in prison for accusing the regime's top officials for the 1998 political murders which were officially blamed on intelligence ministry agents. (Siavash Ardalan)
* RFE/RL's Mohammad-Mehdi Khalaji says the about face in Ganji's thinking from Islamic dogmatism to religious modernism and now to secular democracy is remarkable. Qom-based reformist cleric Ahmad Qabel tells RFE/RL that Ganji's manifesto is idealistic and ignores realities of Iranian society. Conservative journalist Mohammad Hossein Jafarian tells RFE/RL that Ganji's thinking is contrary to the religious aspirations of Iranians. London-based leftist Farokh Negahdar tells RFE/RL that he welcomes Ganji's call for a secular democracy. (Siavash Ardalan)
Government Declares Both Factions of Islamic Students Union Legitimate
* The ministries of higher education and healthcare, acknowledging the split in the pro-reform Islamic students union as legitimate, said both factions could use the title "Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat (Office to Reinforce Unity). The Daftar, a union of university Islamic student associations, split two months ago after it ended up with two central councils elected in separate internal elections in Shiraz and Tehran, each attended by representatives of different Islamic student associations. But Abdollah Momeni, a spokesman of the central council elected in Tehran's Alameh Tabatabai University, tells RFE/RL that his faction rejects the decision of the two ministries. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
* The true measure of the legitimacy of any factions of the Islamic students is its popularity among students. (Said Peyvandi, Paris)
Women Demand Equal Rights Through Sports
* Reporting on a women's sky diving club, Italian weekly D writes that Iranian women have turned sports into a means to demand social rights. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
Spread of Prostitution
* Strict sex rules and poverty led to the spread of prostitution in Iran, reports the Associated Press. (Golnaz Esfandiari)
The Decline of the Middle Class
* The middle class under the Shah has fallen victim to the rise of a new privileged class of associates of regime officials and ruling clerics. Iran's social structure gradually resembles that of Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the middle class has almost disappeared, according to RFE/RL's economic correspondent Fereydoun Khavand, Paris.
RFE/RL Roundtable: Reformists New Campaign
* Radical leftist activist Mohammad-Reza Shalguni, pro-Khatami leftist activist Maliheh Mohammadi, both based in Berlin, and Tehran-based nationalist-religious activist Taqi Rahmani comment on Khatami's campaign to increase presidential powers. They also discuss a national referendum proposed by Khatami's brother as a means to resolve the current political impasse. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
ARTS AND IDEAS
Daily Internet Report
* Iran's heritage foundation offers tours of its museums at www.iranmiras.org, in Persian and English. (Behnam Nateghi, New York)
Daily medical advice (Dr. Mansur Moslehi, Los Angeles)
Daily Book Review
* RFE/RL's Tehran-based book critic Kamran Fani reviews "Stalin: Defeats and Victories" translated by Parviz Khatai, published by Nashr Farzan-e Ruz publishers.
Daily Science Report: Stroke Vaccine
* Dr. John M. Hallenbeck and his colleagues at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have developed a vaccine against strokes that proved effective in lab tests. Unlike most vaccines, the treatment appears to dampen down the immune system instead of gearing it up. (Fatemeh Aman, Washington)
25th Anniversary of Maria Calas
* Paris remembers Maria Calas on the 25th anniversary of her death. (Jean Khakzad, Paris)
Song: Hava-ye Vatan (Longing for Home)
* RFE/RL's music critic Mahmud Khoshnam plays Hava-ye Vatan, performed by 1960's popular singer Aref, now based in Los Angeles.
* Los Angeles DJ Afshin Gorgin spins the latest Persian pop tunes.
* Ancient Egypt exhibit in Venice, interviews with two Iranian filmmakers present at the Venice Film Festival and film music from Italian movies played in Lido island film festival are the subjects of this week's Mediterranean magazine. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
* Iran returns Mulla Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd Islamic militant associated with al-Qaida, to Norway. (Shahran Tabari, London)
* Saudi Arabia says it would allow the US to use its bases for attack against Iraq if sanctioned by UN. (Jamshid Chalangi, Cairo)
* US asks UN Security Council to draft resolution on Iraq. (Homayoun Majd, Washington)
* France criticizes three MPs who traveled to Iraq. (Jean Khakzad, Paris)
* Pakistan to send al-Qaeda member Ramzi bin al-Shibh to US. (Fariba Mavedat, London)
* OPEC members comment on the impact of possible US attack on Iraq on oil prices. (Farideh Rahbar, Cairo)
* Azerbaijan increases oil exploration. (Mani Kasravi, Moscow)
* 15 illegal immigrant die in Italian waters. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
* Turkmenistan government suppresses cultural activities, books and the Internet. (Shahran Tabari, London)
* US tries to market itself to young Arabs through pop music and news, writes the New York Times. (Fariba Mavedat, London)
كانون نويسندگان ايران با انتشار يك نامه سرگشاده به حبس ناصر زرافشان، وكيل خانواده قربانيان قتل هاي زنجيره اي و همچنين به احضار شيرين عبادي، وكيل دادگستري و مدافع حقوق بشر و همچنين احضار و بازجوئي اخير دو تن از اعضاي اين كانون، دكتر جوادمجابي و علي صالحي، به قوه قضائيه اعتراض كرد. اين دو در يك شعبه از دادگستري در ميدان ارگ مورد بازجوئي عناصر قوه قضائيه جمهوري اسلامي قرار گرفتند. سيمي بهبهاني، شاعر برجسته و عضو هيات مديره كانون نويسندگان ايران در مصاحبه با راديوآزادي مي گويد از جواد مجابي و علي صالحي در باره ارتباط با سيامك پورزند، روزنامه نگار زنداني بازجوئي به عمل آمد و بازجويان شماره تلفن و آدرس اعضاي كانون نويسندگان را از آنها مطالبه كردند. سيمين بهبهاني مي افزايد: كانون نويسندگان چيز پنهاني ندارد و جلسات آن علني است. وي مي افزايد: «خواست ما اين است كه اعمالي كه موجب تشتت فكر نويسندگان مي شود متوقف شودو اين عده نويسنده كه پديد آورنده هاي فرهنگي و جزو دارائي هاي مملكت به شمار مي روند، مورد آزار و آزردگي قرار نگيرند.» وي مي پرسد: «آيا دولت و حكومت نبايد وسايل آسايش ملت خودرا فراهم كند؟»