|FarsiNet News Archive
|Just click on the page of your interest|
May 2000, Week 2
|Iran Interested in U.S. Sunflower Oil||May 11|
|Iranian Jew Denies Spying||May 10|
|Iranian Clerics Express Support for Khatami||May 10|
|Iranians 'wait and see' after reformist victories||May 9|
|Iran Reformer Warns of Vote Chaos||May 8|
Iran Interested in U.S. Sunflower Oil
(Bismarck, North Dakota-AP) -- Sunflower oil produced in the Dakotas might wind up going to Iran. |
U-S oil processors want to recapture the market that was in lost in 1979 when Islamic militants stormed the U-S Embassy in Tehran. Argentina has largely controlled the market since the United States started a trade embargo against Iran.
The Clinton administration last year lifted sanctions on exports of food and medicine to Iran, Libya and Sudan. And this fall, an Iranian trade delegation will visit sunflower crushing plants in North Dakota.
Iranian Jew Denies Spying
By Ali Akbar Dareini|
Associated Press Writer
SHIRAZ, Iran - A teacher of religion denied spying for Israel on Wednesday, the first defendant among 13 Jews on trial for espionage here to reject the charges in court.
But the teacher's elder brother, another of the 13, confessed to the charges Wednesday, a lawyer said. He became the sixth defendant to plead guilty in a trial that has unnerved the country's Jewish minority.
The trial has generated concern in the West, where U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has warned the outcome could have international repercussions. Defense lawyers question the fairness of the no-jury revolutionary court, where the judge is also the prosecutor.
On Wednesday, Nasser Levihaim and religion teachers Faramarz and Farzad Kashi were the only defendants in court.
"Faramarz Kashi accepted all of the charges of spying for Israel," lawyer Esmail Naseri, a spokesman for the defense team, told reporters in the southern city of Shiraz, where the trial is being held. "But his younger brother, Farzad, denied all the charges, and his lawyer called for his release."
Levihaim confessed to espionage charges at a previous hearing, and his lawyers presented their final arguments Wednesday.
At the end of the session, court was adjourned until Monday. Provincial judiciary chief Hossein Ali Amiri said the trial likely would convene only three more times.
Kashi's court confession was the latest in a series of guilty pleas.
Iranian television has broadcast confessions of two of the accused Dani Tefilin, a shoe salesman, and Shahrokh Paknahad, a religion teacher since the trial began a month ago. They said separately they were trained and paid by Israel to gather secrets in Iran. Three other defendants have confessed before journalists or inside the court.
Israel has denied that any of the defendants were its spies.
The 25,000 Jews in Iran the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel have faced some government restrictions since the 1979 Islamic revolution, but they have been free to practice their religion and they face little overt discrimination.
Before the revolution, some 80,000 Jews lived in Iran, holding positions of power and influence as businessmen, lawyers and senior civil servants. But since the arrests of the 13 began over a year ago, Iranian Jews have lived in fear of being branded traitors in a land they have lived in for more than 2,000 years.
Naseri, a Muslim, said judiciary officials were trying to convince the nation and the world of the defendants' guilt with the broadcast confessions, without understanding the impact the broadcasts would have on Jews and their place in society. He has said some Jews have even stopped going to work for fear of finger-pointing.
Most worshippers at the Rabizadeh synagogue in the heart of the Jewish quarter in Shiraz were reluctant to speak to reporters Wednesday. One young worshipper, who did not want to give his name, said the case has been "a big blow to the Jewish community."
"I think anyone who looks at us Jews now sees us as spies. ... As a small minority, we are terrified," he said.
"This trial will certainly encourage some Iranian Jews to emigrate," he said. "You don't even see Jews wearing their skullcaps in the streets of Shiraz anymore because they don't want to stand out."
Iranian Clerics Express Support for Khatami
TEHRAN -XINHUA - More than 200 clerics in Iran's holy city of Qom on Wednesday expressed their strong support for President Mohammad Khatami and the reform programs he has been advocating since he took office in 1997. |
In a communique issued on Wednesday, the clerics defended reforms in the society, calling Khatami's landslide victory in the presidential election on May 23, 1997 as an "epic and blessed event" in the country, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
The victory of President Khatami was the best opportunity given to those who claim they love Islam and the Islamic revolution, the communique read. It added that the May 23 epic was a complement of the 1979 triumph of the Islamic revolution and served as fresh blood flowing in the vessels of the Islamic revolution to help refresh it. The clerics also castigated those who oppose the epic, saying that they are afraid of losing what they have achieved through illegitimate ways, the IRNA report said.
President Khatami has been pushing for social and cultural reforms since he defeated his conservative opponent in 1997.
His policies of relaxing religious restrictions on individual behavior and encouraging participation of the common people in politics have won strong support from the people, but also annoyed the conservative hardliners who feel the Islamic system is threatened. Because of Khatami's liberal policies, the country's reformist campaign has become stronger and stronger, which resulted in the overwhelming victory of reformers in February's sixth parliamentary election, ending the long-time conservative majority in the legislative body. But the hardliners, who are still in control of most of the powerful state organs, have taken tough measures to undermine the reform campaign, including jailing reformist journalists, closing most of the reformist papers as well as annulling election results in certain constituencies. The conservative crackdown has pushed the country into a " sensitive period." There are even speculations that the conservative Islamic Revolution Guards Corps might stage a coup to overthrow Khatami's government.
Most of the clerics are believed to support the conservative camp, guardians of the Islamic system based on cleric rule. So it is considered an unusual event that so many clerics in the religious center of Qom have expressed their support for Khatami's reform programs.
Iranians 'wait and see' after reformist victories
Iranians are apprehensively awaiting developments following Sunday's overwhelming victory for reformists in the country's runoff elections.
In the runoff elections in 46 constituencies, reformists won 35 seats, hard-liners 11, and independents took 10. Twenty seats have yet to be announced
In the first round of voting, reformists took more than 70 percent of seats in the country's parliament, which hard-liners have controlled since the 1979 Islamic revolution, as against 20 percent for the hard-liners.
But the mood on the streets of Tehran is more one of apprehension than celebration.
"We just don't know how it will turn out," said one man. "We just have to wait and see."
Hard-liners still control the Revolutionary Guards and the judiciary and have the support of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In the past few weeks, hard-liners have used their power in the courts to close 16 pro-reformist newspapers and arrest several activists.
The hard-line dominated Guardian Council, which has overall control of elections, must still endorse the results of the balloting and finalize the results from the first round in Tehran, where reformists appeared to take 29 out of 30 seats.
In a recently ordered recount in Tehran, the Guardian Council claimed to have found discrepancies. But the Interior Ministry, which administers elections and is controlled by reformist supporters of President Khatami categorically denied the claim.
No runoffs held in Tehran
But supporters of Khatami are still optimistic about their chances of implementing the president's program of reforms, greater individual freedoms and improved relations with the outside world when the new parliament convenes, which is expected to be in three weeks. "We will show the world that Islam and democracy can co-exist," said Dr. Sadiq Ziba Kalam of Tehran University.
Iran Reformer Warns of Vote Chaos
By Hassan Sarbakhshian|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran - A pro-reform candidate warned Monday that annulling parliamentary vote results in Iran's capital where reformists won an overwhelming majority could lead to chaos.
Reformers fear hard-liners in the Islamic clerical government aim to overturn election victories of pro-reform candidates, particularly after the Guardian Council, which oversees elections and is controlled by the conservatives, claimed large discrepancies in voting in Tehran. Reformers won 29 of Tehran's 30 seats in the Feb. 18 voting for the Majlis, or parliament.
"An annulment would lead to political chaos," Mohsen Armin, one of the top winners in Tehran, warned in a speech at Tehran University on Monday. "Any talk of annulling the results for Tehran is a joke, because the consequences of doing that would be so great that no group or faction can afford it."
Comments from members of the Guardian Council about the Tehran results have been contradictory, with some leading members saying annulments are possible and others considering them unlikely. On Monday, a top official on the council was quoted as saying he did not expect annulments.
"Given the result of the vote recounting, I do not expect the (Tehran) result to be nullified," Ayatollah Gholam-Reza Rezvani, head of the central supervisory board for monitoring elections, was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency. He did not elaborate.
Tehran was the top prize in a nationwide victory for reformers, who won control of the legislature from conservatives for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution brought the clergy to power in Iran. Since the February voting, hard-liners have cracked down in a bid to keep their power, closing 16 pro-democracy newspapers.
The Guardian Council has been an important weapon in the hard-liners' power struggle against President Mohammad Khatami, whose program of social and political reform they have been trying to halt.
Reformers were particularly concerned about results in Tehran being overturned since it was there that their most important figures were elected. A parliament without them would be virtually toothless.
The reformists won about 120 seats on Feb. 18 and between 47 and 52 more in run-off elections Friday. The hard-liners control no more than 70 spots in the 290-seat parliament.
The council has already annulled 12 reformist victories outside Tehran and given two of those seats to hard-liners. Some hard-line officials have called for the whole Tehran slate to be scratched.
The council ordered a recount in Tehran upon the request of losing candidates. It said Sunday it had found unspecified discrepancies of more than 10 percent in 88 percent of the boxes counted so far.
But the Interior Ministry, which is controlled by Khatami allies and which supervised the elections alongside the council, disputed the council's claim. "The most important claim of the recent Guardian Council statement, which said 88 percent of the boxes had differences of more than 10 percent, is denied," the ministry said in a statement published in newspapers Monday.
Despite their election rout, the hard-liners control key institutions like the judiciary, military and the broadcast network. In a crackdown over the past two weeks, hard-line courts have detained several prominent reformist leaders and activists and closed down the newspapers.
On Monday, a new reformist newspaper owned by a top presidential official began publishing.
"Doubtless, publishing a newspaper in the current social climate ... appears to be an act of insanity," the daily Bahar said in its first editorial. The newspaper is owned by Saeed Pourazizi, head of news and information in Khatami's office and one of the president's close confidantes.
The Culture Ministry, which grants publishing licenses, is controlled by Khatami's allies.