December 1998, Week 4
|Iran Dissident Supporters Nabbed||December 31|
|Ex-Tehran Mayor Appeals Case||December 30|
|Iran reformist groups join forces for polls||December 28|
|Ex-Iranian Mayor's Sentence Reduced||December 26|
|Khatami Attracts Iranian Women||December 23|
|Court Won't Free Ex-Tehran Mayor||December 22|
|Pro-Khatami Iran group slams top cleric's arrest||December 22|
Iran Dissident Supporters Nabbed
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Eight supporters of a moderate religious leader who challenged the clergy's right to rule Iran have been arrested, the weekly paper Aban reported Sunday. |
Seven of the supporters of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri were detained for distributing pamphlets calling for his release from house arrest, the paper said. It did not specify why the other was arrested.
All eight are clerics, the paper said. It did not say when they were detained.
In November 1997, Montazeri was publicly repudiated after he questioned the legitimacy of rule by the clergy, including Iran's powerful spiritual leader Ali Khamenei.
Khamenei accused him of treason and, days later, hard-liners attacked Montazeri's home and office in Qom, forcing him to flee under police protection.
Montazeri has been confined to his house in the holy city of Qom since the middle of last year. He is allowed no visitors, and in February, a court ordered the freezing of his bank account.
Montazeri was once heir apparent to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But he fell from grace for being too critical of Khomeini's hard-line policies.
Ex-Tehran Mayor Appeals Case
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The jail sentence imposed on Tehran's former mayor was put on hold after his lawyer filed an appeal to the prosecutor general, state-run Iranian radio reported Monday. |
A statement from the prosecutor general's office said that Gholamhossein Karbaschi will not be sent to prison before further investigation of the case, the radio said.
Karbaschi was convicted in July of embezzlement during his eight years as Tehran's mayor, and was sentenced to five years in prison. However, an appeals court on Thursday reduced the prison sentence to two years.
Karbaschi, a key ally of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, had been a target of political rivals, and many Iranians saw the trial as a political settling of scores by the hard-line judiciary.
During his trial, Karbaschi admitted to making mistakes but denied stealing public money.
Iran reformist groups join forces for polls
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's major reformist political groups supporting President Mohammad Khatami have joined forces against conservative rivals for upcoming municipal council elections, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
"All the groups and individuals who joined hands (in Khatami's presidential campaign in 1997) will be active in this tremendous movement," said a statement by 16 centrist and leftist Islamic groups, which was published in newspapers.
"The council elections are another test for the Iranian people and a precious opportunity to institutionalize popular participation," the coalition said.
Moderate groups' unanimous support played a crucial part in Khatami's landslide win in May 1997 over conservative rivals on a platform of liberal political and social reforms.
The coalition brings under one umbrella such influential groups as the leftist League of Militant Clerics, the technocratic Executives of Construction, and Iran's biggest student movement Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat.
Despite ideological differences, all 16 groups have denounced what they say are attempts by conservatives to dominate the February 26 polls by mobilizing their considerable resources-- from state media to mosques and the screening of candidates.
Khatami's backers have repeatedly complained that their candidates were barred from running in past parliamentary and other elections by a conservative-run screening board.
A top member of the Daftar said the coalition aimed to block efforts by conservatives to bar reformists from running.
"The reason behind the groups' convergence is the serious onslaught by the right faction and the possibility of rejecting candidates by supervisory boards," Ali Tajernia told Reuters.
Khatami's Interior Ministry has vowed to block the arbitrary disqualification of pro-reform candidates, but conservative-led boards supervising the elections say they have the final say over the issue.
Nearly 70,000 candidates, including 578 women, had signed up in the first two days of registration which began on Monday. Up to one million hopefuls are expected to sign up. Registration closes on Sunday.
Some 200,000 seats are at stake in the elections which will be held in every city, town and village.
A potentially debilitating row over the naming of poll monitors for Tehran was averted when election bodies run by rival conservatives and moderates approved a compromise list.
Earlier, backers of Khatami, who has made Iran's first municipal polls a centerpiece of his agenda, charged conservatives with eliminating moderate monitors.
Political analysts said Khatami hoped the elections could invigorate his populist reform drive and inject a measure of local democracy and self-management to a nation ruled by autocratic monarchs for centuries until the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"These elections are different. The councils will force the establishment to transfer some power to the people," Tajernia said.
Ex-Iranian Mayor's Sentence Reduced
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An appeals court has reduced
the jail sentence of a former Tehran mayor convicted of corruption from five years to
two years, a judiciary statement said today. |
The court also reduced to 10 years from 20 years the period Gholamhossein Karbaschi was banned from assuming public office.
It replaced his sentence of 60 lashes with a fine of $3,000, statement said. This would be in addition to the original fines he was ordered to pay: $330,000 as punishment and $200,000 that he must pay back the city.
Karbaschi, a key ally of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, had been a target of hard-line political rivals, and many Iranians saw the trial as a political settling of scores. The judiciary in Iran is controlled by hard-liners.
Karbaschi was found guilty in July of embezzlement during his eight years as Tehran's mayor. He filed an appeal in August.
It was not immediately clear when Karbaschi, who has been out on bail, will begin serving his sentence.
During his trial, which lasted more than a month, Karbaschi admitted to making mistakes, but denied stealing public money.
Karbaschi won wide respect for his work as mayor. He built parks and social centers and reduced pollution and traffic congestion. But he also made enemies among the merchant class, which resented his taxes and his support for Khatami, a moderate cleric who believes in relaxing the Islamic social code. His pro-Khatami stance also incurred the enmity of hard-liners.
Riots erupted in Iran soon after Karbaschi's arrest in April.
For many Iranians, the televised trial gave the first insight into Iran's judicial process and moderates saw it more as an indictment of the judiciary than the mayor.
Khatami Attracts Iranian Women
By: cheherezade Faramarzi|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- When 17-year-old Maryam Omi found President Mohammad Khatami standing next to her at a recent book fair, she broke into tears.
``I felt I was under a tremendous force ... an attraction,'' she said.
Omi is not alone in her feelings. In Iran, not only Leonardo DiCaprio and Iranian movie actors are gaining a big female following.
``I simply adore him,'' said Golnaz Sajadi, 20, a university student. ``He's so bright and clean, and attractive.''
The attraction is tempered by Khatami's role as a Shiite Muslim cleric, however. As Sarah Taqani, another student, put it: ``I just want to kiss him -- like a father.''
And it's not only the hearts of women that Khatami has captured, but also the minds of women and men alike, particularly the young -- so me of whom even carry his photo in their wallets.
Indeed, Khatami's election victory -- he won 20 million votes to 10 million for a hard-line rival in May 1997 -- was built on youth and women.
Perhaps what appeals to many about the 53-year-old Khatami is how different he is -- in looks and ideas -- from the more severe demeanor of most Iranian clerics.
What sets him apart are his pleasant smile and fastidious grooming -- his trimmed graying beard, the well pressed clerical robe carefull y matched with flowing cloak, his well-shined shoes.
Khatami's sister-in-law, Zahra Eshraqi, says Khatami is so obsessed with tidiness that he nags TV camera crews not to wrinkle his robe w hen they put a microphone on him.
Eshraqi calls Khatami's looks cozy. ``His face is pleasant to look at. It's close to the heart.''
It helps Khatami's popularity, too, that he says what many Iranians have long wanted to hear, promising freedom and civil rights.
As the head of the National Library, Khatami spent six years studying and lecturing about a different kind of Islam -- which reconciles Islamic law and tradition with individual freedom, and with Western ideas like the rule of law.
He has published two books. ``Fear of the Wave'' examines Shiite reformers who sought to reinterpret Islamic law according to their own times. ``From the World of the City to the City of the World'' is a long rumination on Western political thought.
``He knows how to speak well when he travels abroad. He makes us proud of him,'' said Taqani, the university student.
Court Won't Free Ex-Tehran Mayor
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An Iranian court has rejected an appeal by the former mayor of Tehran who was sentenced to five years in jail for c
Gholamhossein Karbaschi's appeal was reviewed by three judges, and the ``charges and the cases of conviction remain the same,'' Iran's o fficial news agency reported Tuesday. It quoted judiciary spokesman Fotovat Nasiri-Savadkouhi.
The Islamic Republic News Agency did not say when the ruling was made.
Karbaschi was sentenced in July and had been allowed to remain free on bail pending appeal. IRNA did not say if he had now been jailed, and judiciary officials could not be reached for comment.
Karbaschi, an ally of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, was a target of hard-line political rivals, and many Iranians saw the trial a s a political settling of scores.
He was found guilty of embezzlement during his eight years as Tehran's mayor. He was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzlement and two years for misappropriation of government money.
He was also ordered to pay $500,000 in fines and compensation to the city and banned from holding any government job for 20 years.
During his trial, Karbaschi admitted to making mistakes, but denied stealing public money.
As mayor, Karbaschi built parks and social centers and reduced pollution and traffic congestion. But he also made enemies among the merc hant class, which resented his taxes and his support for Khatami.
Pro-Khatami Iran group slams top cleric's arrest
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- A group of clerics backing Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami protested on Monday against the arr
est of a prominent member on fraud charges, the official news agency IRNA reported.
It said the League of Militant Clerics called for a public trial for Assadolah Bayat, a founder of the pro-Khatami group and a forme r deputy speaker of parliament, who was arrested last week by a special clergy court.
The conservative-run court said it had sentenced Bayat to a one-year jail term last year and fined him 100 million rials ($33,000) f or fraud and forgery.
Moderate newspapers said the case was linked to a dispute between Bayat and a hardline Islamic militia over the control of religious institutions at a Tehran mosque.
The court meets in closed sessions to deal with offences committed by clerics.
Moderates have in recent months accused conservative-run courts of acting politically to weaken Khatami's governnment and its backer s. The judiciary denies that.