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August 2000, Week 4
|Khatami Meets Iran's Jewish Leaders||August 26|
|Iran Air Says Capacity Hit by Costs, U.S. Sanctions||August 25|
|Leading Iranian Dissident Freed from Jail||August 24|
|Iranian President Says He Seeks No Tension with US||Ausgust 23|
|Majority of Iranian Girls Wish They Were Boys||Ausgust 22|
Khatami Meets Iran's Jewish Leaders
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- President Mohammad Khatami met Iranian-Jewish community leaders Thursday in a bid to ease the anxieties of the Jewish minority in Iran, where 10 Jews were convicted last month of spying for Israel.
Khatami met with a group of 40 Jews, including the wife of one of the convicted men. He promised to defend their rights, said Iranian Jewish lawmaker Morris Motamed.
"It was the first time that a 40-member Jewish group was meeting an Iranian president. |
We discussed the situation of Jews in Iran and the president said he was obliged under the constitution to defend the rights of all Iranians, including Jews," Motamed told The Associated Press. Iran's constitution recognizes the rights of Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians and assigns them a total of five seats in the country's 290-member parliament. Motamed, who holds a seat representing the Jewish community, said the group discussed the case of the 10 Jews jailed for espionage. Four Muslims were charged with aiding the Jews in collecting information. Their verdicts have not been announced. "The president said the case had nothing to do with religion and that the suspects were both Jews and Muslims. He said he hoped that Islamic mercy will be considered after the appeal has been finalized," Motamed said.
The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the right to grant pardons after the appeals process is exhausted. Judiciary officials have said the appeals court should issue its judgment by Sept. 5.
Iran is fiercely anti-Israel, and all Iranians are banned from dealing with or traveling to the Jewish state.
The 10 Iranian Jews were convicted July 1 of spying for Israel and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. Three others were acquitted. The trial -- and televised confessions by two of the defendants -- alarmed the Jewish community. Many felt it put the entire group under suspicion. Iranian Jews, the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel, have lived in relative tranquility for more than 2,000 years. The Jewish community numbered about 100,000 just before the country's 1979 Islamic revolution. About 25,000 Jews still live here today.
Iran Air Says Capacity Hit by Costs, U.S. Sanctions
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's national airline cannot increase capacity in line with growing demand because of U.S.- imposed sanctions and budget limitations, the airline's managing director said.
"Because of financial limitations and the issue of sanctions, plans to add to our airliners were scrapped," Ahmad Reza Kazemi was quoted by Kar Va Kargar newspaper as saying on Thursday.
"According to the plans, we need 23 new aeroplanes on domestic routes and 18 for international flights to upgrade our fleet and meet the demand," Kazemi said. |
He said Iran Air had only managed to sign contracts for four new Airbuses. He did not name the specific model purchased but earlier plans called for four A-330s to join the fleet. Iran Air carries more than 7.5 million passengers a year on its 30 aircraft, mostly Boeings acquired before the 1979 revolution.
Apart from new Airbus deal, the airline has bought only six Fokker F100s and two Airbus A300-600s since 1979. U.S. sanctions bar sales of Boeing airliners to the Islamic Republic and hinder the acquisition of other aircraft, many of which rely on U.S.-built engines or other components. Despite unexpectedly high prices for crude oil, Iran's top export, the country is strapped for cash, further limiting Iran Air's expansion plans.
Industry analysts expect that Iran Air was likely to rely exclusively on Airbus to replace its aging fleet of Boeings, which consists of roughly eight old 747s and nine 727s and 737s.
Leading Iranian Dissident Freed from Jail
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A leading dissident jailed in June by the hard-line judiciary for attending a controversial conference in Germany has been freed, a close associate said Wednesday.
Ezatollah Sahabi, a member of the dissident Freedom Movement, which opposes Iran's clerical rule, was freed Monday night after depositing a 50 million-rial ($62,500) bail, Reza Alijani, an editor of the now banned Iran-e-Farda biweekly, told The Associated Press.
Sahabi could not be reached for comment at his office or home Wednesday. |
Iran-e-Farda was among 25 publications -- all but one of them pro-reform newspapers -- that have been banned since April by the hard-line judiciary. Sahabi was the magazine's director. "Sahabi was expected to be released on Tuesday but the authorities released him on Monday night to avoid a warm welcome he was expected to be accorded by friends and supporters," Alijani said. Sahabi was detained in June in connection with a conference he attended in Germany.
Slogans criticizing Iran's religious government were chanted at the conference on Iran held in Berlin in April. "The relatively long detention period and the treatment of Sahabi, which were of course politically motivated, had little to do with his participation in the conference. While in detention, he was interrogated mostly about the Freedom Movement and his political activities. The hard-liners are seeking to frighten their opponents," Alijani said. Meanwhile, the managing director of the daily Hamshahri, Morteza Alviri, appeared in court Wednesday to hear 15 complaints lodged against him, Iranian radio reported.
The court agreed to a request from Alviri, who is also Tehran mayor, to grant him two weeks to prepare his defense, study the cases and draw up documents, said the broadcast. It did not provide further details on the complaints. Several journalists and activists were arrested or jailed after returning from the April conference, during which some delegates criticized Iran's Islamic government, and where a woman danced in a skimpy outfit. They were released on bail after several days of detention. Akbar Ganji, Iran's leading investigative journalist and a critic of hard-liners, remains in prison for what is widely believed to be his critical articles rather than attending the conference.
Allies of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, whose faction is locked in a power struggle with the hard-liners, have accused the judiciary of using the conference as an excuse to silence or harass opponents. Some participants were told by the court that their presence at conference was "an act against Iran's security."
Iranian President Says He Seeks No Tension with US
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said he did not seek tension in relations with the United States, but that Washington had to address Iran's long-standing grievances before ties became normal.
"We do not seek tension with anyone, even America. We have no animosity against American people and respect them," Khatami said in a televised interview broadcast Tuesday.
"But we have serious objections to American policies, and as long as these problems are not resolved we will insist on our position." |
The United States broke diplomatic ties with Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution which overthrew the U.S.-backed shah. Relations remain strained, with Iran subjected to U.S. economic sanctions. Washington has tried to engage Tehran in talks to discuss its major concerns, including Iran's alleged ties to terrorism and military build-up and its opposition to the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace process. But Iran has rebuffed these offers, demanding practical goodwill gestures, including an end to the sanctions.
Khatami said he doubted Washington would revise its hostile stance against Tehran any time soon:
"There are historical problems. America's long-established policies will not change overnight."
Khatami also said a possible change of administration in the United States in the presidential election this year would not significantly affect ties. "There is no fundamental difference between the two (main) parties in America, in their general attitude," he said.
The president insisted Iran had no links to terrorism, and that its opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace talks was confined to opinion and was maintained out of "moral and philosophical convictions." "How is it possible to ignore the rights of millions of Palestinians who live and die in refugee camps, expelled from their land by outsiders?" he said. "This is not compatible with logical and democratic standards. There will not be a lasting peace. And if there is, it will not be fair." But Khatami said Iran would leave the Palestinians to determine their own fate. "We do not meddle in any way. We support the rights of the oppressed anywhere in the world." "Anything the Palestinians achieve is a step forward, but not the ultimate goal," the president said in a reminder to Palestinian leaders negotiating peace with Israel.
Majority of Iranian Girls Wish They Were Boys
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Fifty-three percent of Iranian girls interviewed in a recent survey said that if they could be born again they would prefer to be boys, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The study was carried out by Manouchehr Mohseni, a professor of sociology, Kar Va Kargar newspaper said. Further details were not reported.
Although the social reforms of Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami, elected with the overwhelming support of women, have somewhat eased social restrictions, many women still feel burdened by their gender. |
An Iranian man who recently had a sex change to become a woman finds life so difficult she has been trying to reverse the operation. Sex change operations are legal in Iran but there are no provisions for would-be transsexuals to test out their new identity first.
Iran has a mandatory outdoors dress code for women, requiring them to cover their hair and body from strangers. Official statistics show suicide rates among women outstrips those of men -- the opposite of Western societies.