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January 2000, Week 1
|Iranian Soccer Team Leaves for U.S.||January 7|
|Iranian Woman Becomes German Citizens under Revised Law||January 5|
|Iran Closes Schools Due to Pollution||January 3|
|New Iran Reformist Daily Hits Newsstands||January 1|
Iranian Soccer Team Leaves for U.S.
The Associated Press|
TEHRAN, Iran -Iran's national soccer team left for the United States for three exhibition games, including one against the Americans on Jan. 16 at the Rose Bowl.
The team will stop first in Frankfurt, Germany, to pick up visas from the U.S. consulate and then fly on to the United States, the daily Abrar said today.
Iran agreed to the invitation for the exhibition games after the U.S. Soccer Federation accepted Iranian conditions that fingerprint formalities be waived, the paper said.
Because of a history of hostility that dates back 20 years, Iranians entering the United States are often fingerprinted by U.S. immigration officials. Ties between the two countries have thawed since the 1997 election of President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who seeks better relations with the United States.
The Iranian team meets Mexico on Jan. 9 in Oakland, Calif., Ecuador on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles and the United States on Jan. 16 at Pasadena, Calif. That game will be the first meeting between the teams since Iran beat the United States 2-1 at the 1998 World Cup in France.
"We know the Americans have done a lot to improve their striking power after the World Cup, but we are prepared to meet them," Talebi was quoted as telling the newspaper Iran.
Iran will not be short of support in California, which is home to a sizable Iranian community.
Washington severed diplomatic ties with Iran after militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
In January 1998, Khatami appealed for "a crack in the wall of mistrust" between the two countries and proposed nonofficial exchanges. Several U.S. academics and sports teams have since visited Iran.
Iranian Woman Becomes German Citizens under Revised Law
KIEL, Germany (AP) -- An Iranian lawyer on Monday became one of the first citizens naturalized in Germany under a new law relaxing requirements for the nation's 7.3 million foreign residents. |
Behjat Moaali, 50, wouldn't have been eligible for citizenship under the old law until 2004, 15 years after her arrival in Germany. The new law, which took effect Jan. 1, cuts the residency requirement to eight years. "I am very happy and very relieved," said Moaali, who was issued citizenship papers in the northern city of Kiel.
Moaali said she left Iran because of her work as a lawyer and her participation in women's democratic groups. In Kiel, she works as an Iranian law expert at a center that researches torture.
In addition to cutting the residency requirement, the new law grants automatic citizenship to children born in Germany, as long as their parents have been living here for at least eight years. Turkish community groups and newspapers have harshly criticized the law over its limits on dual citizenship and a requirement of "sufficient" knowledge of the German language. They have encouraged the country's 2.1 million Turks, the largest group of Germany's resident foreigners, not to apply.
Iran Closes Schools Due to Pollution
The Associated Press|
TEHRAN, Iran -The government closed kindergartens and primary schools in Iran's capital city Sunday because of the high level of air pollution, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Two newspapers also criticized the government for failing to come to grips with the problem, which led to the closure of thousands of schools last year.
Parents of small children welcomed the decision, the agency reported, but high school teachers and students were unhappy that their schools were not closed as well. High school teachers complained that they had to take their toddlers to work.
Tehran has been suffering from dangerous levels of pollution and smog since the beginning of the month. Many residents with heart conditions and asthma have been hospitalized.
Iranian state-radio continues to broadcast messages urging residents to remain indoors and use the city's buses and minibus taxis instead of driving their own vehicles.
Tehran Mayor Morteza Alviri has said the authorities were going to embark on a long-term project to combat air pollution, costing $2.2 billion.
The Tehran Times said Sunday that 70 percent of the pollution stemmed from vehicles. It accused the traffic police and city authorities of procrastination, adding that they were waiting for a parliamentary decision. It urged the parliament to act promptly.
Most of the cars in Tehran are more than 20 years old and they lack the exhaust filters of modern vehicles.
The Iran News said Tehran had deteriorated since its former mayor, Gholamhossein Karbaschi, was jailed last year. Karbaschi had striven to rebuild and modernize Tehran, the newspaper said.
"Pollution is but one side of the coin amid slack law and order, racketeering, increased drug trafficking and rising crime," the paper said.
Karbaschi was sentenced to two years in prison and 60 lashes at the end of a trial that was widely seen as part of an ongoing tug-of-war between reformist President Mohammad Khatami and hard-liners in Iran's Islamic government.
Earlier this month, the government also closed kindergartens and elementary schools and barred motorists from the city center for an extra day.
The authorities have not given statistics for the air contamination but last year, when several thousand schools were shut down, the pollution was more than six times the acceptable level set by the World Health Organization.
New Iran Reformist Daily Hits Newsstands
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - A new reformist newspaper, headed by a brother of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, hit the newsstands on Sunday, ahead of parliamentary elections in February. |
Publisher Mohammad Reza Khatami said in an editorial that the daily Mosharekat (Participation) hoped to boost "free and legal participation in all areas by all citizens." The daily is close to the Islamic Iran Participation Front, a pro-reform party which backs President Khatami.
An editor at Mosharekat told Reuters that part of the new editorial team had been drawn from the staff of Salam, a prominent reformist daily banned by a hardline court last year. The ban prompted widespread student unrest and pro-democracy rallies. The Front is one of the main reformist groups gearing up for the February 18 election in which Khatami's backers hope to use the president's popularity to break the conservatives' grip on parliament.
Several pro-reform newspapers have been closed in the past year by hardline courts. But new ones have emerged, thanks to more liberal licensing rules introduced by Khatami who took office in 1997.