May 1998, Week 4
|Iran Has Unique World Cup Set Up||May 30|
|IRAN'S Foreign Ministry Rejects Accusation||May 30|
|An Ancient Land of Hope and Glory||May 28|
|Iran to make most of late invitation to World Cup party||May 28|
|Iran street clashes spotlight factional struggle||May 27|
|Khatami Brings Freer Press to Iran||May 26|
|Iran beat Milan 4-1||May 25|
|Some 15 Million Iranians Need Jobs in next Decade||May 24|
|Iran Hardliners Clash with Moderate Students||May 24|
|Iranian Marks Year in Office||May 23|
Iran Has Unique World Cup Set Up
YSSINGEAUX, France (AP) -- At France's highest seat of pastry -- the Ecole Nationale Superieure de la Patisserie -- the wine cellar is locked and women on the staff have been sent on leave. |
The Iranians are coming.
This pleasant little town of 7,000 in the heart of France, dominated by stone church towers and a giant fluorescent cross on the overlooking hill, is the base for Iran's World Cup soccer team. Iranian authorities have asked for all immediate temptation to be removed.
Thirty players and trainers will occupy the pastry school, a 19th-century castle crammed with high-tech cuisine gear. French police are settling into the new annex laboratories and classrooms.
``We're perfect for them,'' explained Mayor Jacques Barrot, a former Cabinet minister who pushed hard for the honor. ``They'll be isolated here for security. And very, very comfortable.''
When Iran qualified last year, the Islamic nation boiled over with joy not seen since the Ayatollah Khomeini returned from France to lead the 1979 Islamic revolution.
On June 21, the team meets the United States, the Great Satan. Beyond sporting circles, some analysts compare that to the pingpong diplomacy that warmed up U.S.-China relations under Richard Nixon.
Barrot wanted a team -- any team -- but his first choices went elsewhere. He noted that Yssingeaux (pronounced eee-san-joe) was near Lyon and not far from Montpellier, where Iran plays its first games, and he got excited.
``We can offer a friendly small-town atmosphere for players under great stress because of their match with the Americans,'' he said. ``And they might teach us something, as well.''
The presence of young men from what is sometimes regarded as a pariah state, Barrot said, can change attitudes among townsfolk whose only contact with the wider world is the evening television news.
The Iranian ambassador visited on Christmas Eve to clinch the deal, and late spring classes were canceled so the school could be transformed.
``This, of course, will all disappear,'' observed Guy Pulat, acting director, with a wistful wave toward the after-hours bar, stocked with vintage cognacs and rare Scotch single malts.
Heavy cooking equipment has been shunted aside to make room for Jacuzzis. Longer beds and cable television were put in the rooms. However, a request for a temporary mosque was quietly ignored.
An Iranian chef will work alongside the French staff, keeping an eye on ingredients.
Despite quickly dismissed rumors that women in town would have to wear veils, sentiment in Yssingeaux leans toward the positive. Curious visitors and reporters are likely to spend money.
Not everyone is thrilled.
``They murder people, like they do in Algeria,'' said Jeannine Laborie, who runs a bakery downtown across from the Bar des Sports. ``You won't find me putting out any Iranian flags.''
But most neighboring merchants range from favorable to neutral, and several hasten to note that Madame Laborie sells prefrozen baked goods in a town long famed for its brioches.
Authorities are not sure what to expect. About 500,000 Iranians live in Europe, and at least 70,000 in the United States have sought visas. French activists may try to stage demonstrations.
In fact, few people are likely to see the Iranian team, except when they practice on a field adjacent to the chateau.
Even if coaches allowed them out at night, Yssingeaux is not long on temptation. Except for the weekends at the Midnight or Crypton discos, the brightest light in town is the hilltop cross.
Just south of Saint-Etienne, Yssingeaux is serious soccer country, and many are eager to see some world-class action. Others are simply curious after seminars and films on modern Iran.
At the L'Evidence restaurant, a hip young owner named Jean-Rene Duvillet is looking forward to more customers, a few laughs -- and no trouble.
``Look, everyone has their political ideas, for and against or whatever,'' he said. ``But for the World Cup, they put all that aside. Soccer goes beyond that stuff.''
IRAN'S Foreign Ministry Rejects Accusation
TEHRAN- XINHUA - The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday
rejected the accusation lodged by the conservatives that it has invited
"elements" from Iran's arch rival Israel and the United States to visit
According to the Iranian official news agency IRNA, the Foreign Ministry's public relations office issued a statement, terming the remarks made by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati on Friday as a "slip of the tongue."
Up to now no Israeli individual has been granted visa and nor will they be granted visa in the future either, the statement said, and the Foreign Ministry also has no plan to issue visa to the U.S. officials.
The visa for journalists, scientists and tourists have their own procedures and necessary conditions for receiving these kinds of visas are different, it added.
Jannati, secretary of the conservative Guardians Council, on Friday strongly criticized the Foreign Ministry for inviting "certain American and Israeli elements" to visit Iran.
The pro-conservative daily Jomhuri Islami on Thursday also blamed the moderate government of President Mohammad Khatami for inviting "suspicious American and Israeli elements" to visit the country.
In a response, Sadeq Kharrazi, an advisor to the foreign minister, stated that Iran should extend an open invitation to all intellectuals who can convey the truth of the Iranian Islamic system to the world.
"I would like to see all European and American researchers visit Iran," Kharrazi said in an interview with the moderate newspaper Iran Daily published on Saturday, adding that the visit of American researchers, journalists and members of the academic community have positively affected American public opinion about Iran.
He said that in some cases some Americans came to Iran with a very negative attitude, but were favorably impressed once they returned home.
An Ancient Land of Hope and Glory
They came together from all corners of America and the old country to take stock and fret about the well-being of
a nation in transition and a civilization that will never die. A conference that grouped Iran scholars and three
generations of Iranian Americans convened at the Hyatt Hotel in Bethesda last weekend to delve into geopolitics,
human rights violations, sports, literature, social change and the wiles of women -- as feminists and chefs -- f
rom antiquity to modern times. There were those who left after the downfall of the Shah, those who persevered und
er the Islamic regime and are still battling for their liberties, and those who matured here with American ideals
and sensitivities without ever forgetting their roots.|
Karim Emami, a noted writer and publisher, gave a humorous and elaborate report on the culture of books in contem porary Iran, noting that 12,000 new titles had been published in the past year, "but we are talking of readership not of production".
Javad Tabatabai, the man who critiqued President Mohammed Khatemi's 1994 doctoral dissertation and is intimately familiar with his ideas, urged participants to focus on what is happening with the Iranian people rather than th e government. He said in an interview that 30 new organizations in Iran, such as professional unions, had applied for licensing and 15 had already been authorized. "These are organized socio-professional institutions with poli tical tendencies," he said. "Khatemi told me before the elections he was going to authorize them," said Tabatabai , who met the newly elected leader a year ago and again four months ago.
The recent authorization of new political parties in Iran is raising hopes for wider participation by women and s ecular-minded politicians in defining the scope of religious rule. "Liberty is the most important thing; everythi ng else comes later," he added.
The philosophy professor was fired from his post for writing about the decline of intellectual thought in Iran an d the incompatibility of modernity and Islam without the dynamic of Western thought. He is now associated with th e National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. Praise for Tabatabai in the preface of Khatemi's dissertation fueled criticism by Khatemi's hard-line foes during last year's election.
Mehrangiz Kar, a human rights lawyer -- now under fire with another lawyer and former judge, Shirine Abadi, for speaking out against plans to segregate medical care in Iran and accused of "mocking Islam" -- said in an intervi ew that, if Khatemi stays in power, the freedom he is nurturing will lead to social development and, later, to ec onomic development. "If he cannot find economic solutions, people will abandon him. Now people are talking more a bout freedom and people's rights. But he cannot change the laws; it is up to the Majlis," she said of the Iranian parliament, in which religious hard-liners challenge Khatemi's powers.
The saddest footnote to the conference was a desperate appeal by a distinguished cartographer and geographer, Mo hammad-Hossein Papoli-Yazdi of the University of Mashhad, to participants about the need to establish the rule of law in Iran. Visibly depressed, Papoli-Yazdi claimed to two journalists that an unresolved court case against hi m -- involving charges of espionage and adultery that he denies -- had forced him to put up his house as bail and take one of his students as a second wife to render the adultery charge moot. Papoli-Yazdi, a Sorbonne graduate and editor of a scientific journal, said the government should establish a special commission of lawyers to monit or the treatment of academics and review cases such as his.
In an interview at the Hyatt, he threatened to set himself on fire outside the the U.N. Education Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris next week if the Iranian government does not meet a list of demands t hat include providing him with a lawyer, assigning a qualified judge and jury to preside over his trial, and awar ding him compensation should he be exonerated. He said he would send his demands to the Iranian U.N. mission in N ew York and Iran's interest section in Paris.
He said he was jailed for 18 days and tried to commit suicide in jail before pressure from colleagues in France a nd Germany on Tehran officials led to his release. "I am a university teacher, and they gave my case to [a judge] who does not even have a high school diploma. . . . .If they do not accept my conditions, I will set myself on f ire in front of the UNESCO office, because our people need those who will give their blood for freedom. To create a civil society, Khatemi needs people to dedicate their lives; such a society cannot exist without laws."
Papoli-Yazdi, who left for Paris last night, said that 10 of his colleagues were incarcerated in the past year an d interrogated in what he said was a strategy of pressure to force academics to collaborate with Iranian intellig ence agencies. Papoli-Yazdi, 50, the father of three, said he is religious and that he supported Ayatollah Ruhol lah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, when he studied in France.
Iran to make most of late invitation to World Cup party
PARIS-(AFP)Iran squeezed through the World Cup qualifying door at the eleventh hour with a record
three changes of managers in almost as many months.|
Majeli Kohan was at the helm at the start of their long roa d to France, but he was shown the door after dismissing 1996 Asian Footballer of the year Khodaded Azizi.
His replacement, Valdir Vieira, had the briefest of tenures before the appearance on the scene of Tomislav Ivic, the veteran Croatian coach in January.
After a bright start, Iran's campaign had faltered badly and they found themselves in a second play-off tie again st Australia.
A 1-1 draw in Tehran appeared to give the upper hand to Terry Venables' team but on the return leg the Iranians s natched an improbable draw to go through on away goals.
Spurred on by tens of thousands of fanatical supporters, Ivic's men have proved tough opponents -- with a backbon e of players with valuable European experience.
Azizi, the Cologne striker, is a vital ingredient of Iran's World Cup campaign and the scorer of that vital goal in Melbourne.
He is ably assisted by the prolific goalscorer Ali Daei, who also plays in the German League for Arminia Bielefel d, and another German-based star in Karim Bagheri, top scorer with 17 goals in the qualifying round.
Iran are nonetheless set for a torrid time in France with Germany, America and Yuogoslavia waiting to meet them i n the first round.
They will be keen not to emulate their inaugural effort on the World Cup stage. On their one and only visit to th e finals 20 years ago, they crashed out after an own goal against Scotland.
In Ivic, though, they have the services of a wily tactician, who has left no stone unturned since taking over the national side.
Iran street clashes spotlight factional struggle
DUBAI (Reuters) - Street clashes and public disputes in Iran
point to a sharpening conflict between moderates backing
reform-minded President Mohammad Khatami and conservatives
fearing the abandonment of Islamic principles.
Iranian political analysts said Tuesday a recent move to allow political parties was unlikely to dampen the struggle between the two factions, at least in the immediate future.
Monday, several people were injured when hardliners attacked a rally by moderate students near Tehran university.
"The attack on the rally yesterday showed that the hardliners have stepped up their campaign against critics," a Tehran-based journalist said.
Residents said it was among the most violent political clashes in recent years, with hardliners using sticks, stones and brass knuckles to disrupt the event, held with a permit.
It was also the latest in a series of assaults on dissidents and moderate groups. The attackers, widely believed to enjoy the support of powerful conservative circles, have not been punished.
"It was no coincidence that the targeted group was the one that has gone furthest in challenging the authority of the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)," the journalist said.
The rally's organizers demanded that non-clerics and women be allowed to run in elections later this year for the powerful Assembly of Experts, which selects -- and can dismiss -- the supreme leader. The body consists exclusively of Shi'ite Muslim clerics.
The students have also said the length of Khamenei's term should be limited, a demand which is tantamount to treason for conservatives who say the leader is owed "absolute obedience."
"Khatami has been trying to bring about change gradually and without provoking a conservative backlash. But some of his more radical supporters are more impatient," the journalist said.
Conservatives regularly denounce challenges to the dominating role of the clergy as part of Western attempts to undermine the state set up after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
But Khatami, elected in a landslide a year ago on a platform of more social and political liberties, has repeatedly said his reforms would strengthen the Islamic state by widening its base.
Nasser Hadian, professor of political science at Tehran University, said it would take time for the Iranian factions to learn to resolve their conflicts politically.
"I am an optimist by nature, but I think it will take time before the culture competes peacefully and according to a set of fair rules of play which will be accepted by everyone. There has been a lot of progress in the past year, but a long road still remains," Hadian told Reuters by telephone.
Iran has recently authorized several independent political parties, including two pro-Khatami groups, for the first time since the revolution. The country has other, mostly clergy-based political associations and societies.
"I do not think the main hindrance to the formation of most political parties has been a legal one, or the state's opposition to it. It is rather a lack of a culture of parties and the experience of democracy in Iran," Hadian said.
"The parties that are being set up now will not necessarily last very long. I think they will probably become active on some issues and then split because of internal differences," he said.
The conflict between moderates and conservatives has also been reflected in the behavior of their supporters.
The cheering, clapping and whistling by backers of Khatami at his speech Saturday marking his election a year ago drew criticism from conservatives who traditionally rally to the Islamic cry of "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).
About 20,000 Shi'ite seminary students and teachers marched Monday in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, criticizing the actions of the pro-Khatami crowd as part of "a Western cultural onslaught on Islamic values and beliefs," state media said.
"The pro-Khatami crowd also distanced itself from the conservatives by being cheerful, as opposed to the somber and serious mood at traditional rallies," the journalist said.
"They also made a clear political statement by not chanting anti-U.S. slogans," said the journalist, who attended the rally.
The demonstrators at Saturday's rally refused to take up chants of "Death to America" initiated by a group of hardliners.
Khatami has called for a dialogue between the Iranian and American peoples. But any improvements in official ties are strongly opposed by conservatives and policy-maker Khamenei.
Conservatives still control key levers of power -- including the judiciary, the parliament, the army and the police -- and have opposed many of Khatami's efforts at reform.
Khatami Brings Freer Press to Iran
By Anwar Faruqi|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- In the office of the Islamic Students Association, a blood-stained shirt hangs on the wall with yellowing copies of the group's now-defunct newspaper.
It's a reminder of the day when a dozen thugs burst in and beat association president Heshmatollah Tab arzadi with a heavy cable. He had criticized Iran's religious leaders in the student newspaper, and th e thugs were the reply from hard-liners in the government.
For years, that was the price of speaking out in Iran. But much has changed since Tabarzadi -- who has recovered from his wounds -- was beaten last year.
In August, President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric, took office and began remaking the political scene. So far, his greatest achievement has been to lift restrictions on the press, cinema and the ar ts, breathing new life into Iran's cultural life.
Newspapers accustomed to never criticizing the mullahs or their religious government are now enjoying freedoms unknown since the early days of the 1979 revolution that ousted the U.S.-supported shah.
Last month, when 4,000 demonstrators clashed with riot police in Tehran over the arrest of Mayor Ghola mhossein Karbaschi on embezzlement charges, most newspapers ran detailed front-page accounts and pictu res.
Before Khatami, the average Iranian would have gotten the full story only by word of mouth or from Far si-language radio broadcasts from abroad.
``In the mayor's affair, there was nothing in the foreign media that wasn't in the local papers,'' not ed Hossein Nosrat, head of the foreign press department in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidanc e. ``There was a time when the opposite was true.''
One newspaper testing the limits of the new freedoms is Jameah, an afternoon daily started in December that sells out within hours of hitting newsstands.
The newspaper, whose name means ``society,'' broke a taboo by publishing interviews with Ibrahim Yazdi , head of the outlawed Freedom Movement, and with Abbas Amir Entezam, a former government spokesman co nvicted of spying for the United States.
After the mayor's release from jail, Jameah poked fun at the religious hard-liners behind the arrest b y noting the mayor and three journalists arrested for political offenses all had become public heroes.
``Get arrested and become an instant hero,'' the paper said.
Jameah's editor, Mahmoud Shams, sees his paper as a watchdog.
``Mr. Khatami must fulfill the promises he made during his campaign to strengthen civil society, and t here must be a paper that watches to guarantee these promises are fulfilled,'' he said in an interview .
The weekly newspaper Fakhur learned, however, that there are limits.
In February, it was banned for six months for running pictures of the women involved in the President Clinton investigation. It showed them without the required head-to-foot Islamic dress.
Still, the hard-liners, already on the defensive since their election loss to Khatami last May reveale d their unpopularity, have had to watch a stream of cultural liberalization.
For instance, the first official act of the new culture minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, was to allow th e showing of a movie that had been banned for more than two years: ``Snowman,'' the story of an Irania n man who dresses as a woman to marry an American and go to the United States. It became an instant hi t.
Other forms of art are also experiencing a revival.
Six years ago, Sassan Nassiri and four fellow artists took over an apartment building about to be torn down and transformed one floor into a work of art, with murals on the walls and mobiles hanging from ceilings.
Officials rejected a permit for their show. When they opened it anyway, supporters of the hard-liners stormed the exhibition and closed it down.
Last month the five artists took over another condemned building for a similar show, this time not ask ing for a permit. But an official from the culture ministry heard about the show and gave them a permi t anyway.
Despite the new freedoms, opposition groups such as Yazdi's Freedom Movement and the student associati on headed by Tabarzadi still are banned from publishing.
``Mr. Khatami's powers are very limited,'' Yazdi said. ``He controls the Ministry of Culture and Islam ic Guidance, but the Interior Ministry, which decides on the activities of political groups, is still in the hands of his rival faction.''
Iran beat Milan 4-1
COMO, Italy (AP) -- Sparked by a new coach and by two goals by forward Ali Daei, Iran beat UEFA Cup champion Internazionale of Milan 4-1 Saturday in an exhibition game. |
In its first game since Jalal Talebi replaced Tomislav Ivic as coach on Wednesday, Iran fell behind when Uruguayan forward Alvaro Recoba scored in the 41st minute.
Kian tied the score in the 71st minute, Daei -- newly signed by Bayern Munich -- scored twice in a three-minute span and Karim Bagheri connected with one minute remaining.
Inter, which finished second in the Italian League, was missing many key players who are with their national teams, including Taribo West of Nigeria, Italian sweeper Giuseppe Bergomi and Javier Zanetti.
Iran, which lost to AS Roma 7-1 on Tuesday, plays the United States in the first round of the World Cup, on June 21 at Lyon, France.
Some 15 Million Iranians Need Jobs in next Decade
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - Some 15 million graduates will
join Iran's workforce over the next decade and most will have to
turn to the private sector for jobs, a government official said
in remarks published on Monday.
Deputy Industries Minister Akbar Torkan said government agencies could not absorb more than 20 percent of the graduates, the daily Iran News said.
``Torkan said that if the government was to employ an extra 10 million graduates, an investment of some $20 billion would be needed,'' the paper said.
Torkan was speaking at a conference in Tehran on productivity.
Nearly a third of Iran's population of more than 60 million is aged between 11 and 24 and 800,000 new job-seekers enter the market each year, an official at Iran's Statistical Centre said recently.
Economists say the number of jobs that must be created is closer to one million a year.
Officially, unemployment hovers around nine percent but economists say it is nearer 15 percent and rising.
Iran Hardliners Clash with Moderate Students
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - Scuffles broke out on Monday when
a group of hardliners attacked a gathering of students
supporting moderate President Mohammad Khatami.
The clashes occurred at a student rally in Tehran's Laleh park near Tehran University, the news agency said.
``The law enforcement forces are reportedly restoring calm and order,'' it added.
A student spokesman said several people including a rally speaker were injured in the attack by about 50 hardliners armed with knives, knuckledusters and teargas canisters.
``Unfortunately our rally was once again disrupted, without the police intervening to protect a legal gathering for which we had a permit,'' spokesman Mohammad Salamati told Reuters.
The rally had been postponed twice before to avoid clashes with the hardliners, who have attacked events by critical and moderate groups. The attackers, widely believed to enjoy the support of powerful conservative circles, have gone unpunished.
The moderate student group has been demanding that non-clerics and women be allowed to run in elections later this year for the powerful Assembly of Experts, which chooses and can dismiss Iran's supreme leader.
All 83 current members of the body are clergymen. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, widely believed to be closer to the hardliners, intervened earlier this month and urged opposing student factions to avoid clashes.
Khatami, elected last year on a platform of more social and political freedom, pledged on the anniversary of his election on Saturday to press ahead with reforms.
Addressing tens of thousands of supporters, he said nothing would stop him from implementing the programme he had promised the people of Iran.
Iranian Marks Year in Office
By Afshin Valinejad|
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Iranians carrying pictures of President Mohammad Khatami and banners praising him took to the streets of the Iranian capital today to celebrate the anniversary of his election a year ago.
The boisterous crowd, made up equally of women in mandatory black veils and men, marched a mile from Tehran's Vali Asr Square to Tehran University.
``Khatami, Khatami, we support you!'' they shouted.
Earlier, at Vali Asr Square, one of Tehran's most prominent, students carried banners that read, ``Dear Khatami, we are ready to sacrifice our life for you'' and ``Khatami, we love you.''
Khatami's landslide victory against a hard-liner on May 23 shook the foundations of Iran's clerical rule. The 20 million people who voted for him, mainly women and students, have claimed his victory as a triumph for civil liberties, and he remains popular among them.
Since taking office in August, Khatami has tried to improve ties with the West, appointed women to senior positions and eased social restrictions imposed after the 1979 Islamic revolution. In January, Khatami proposed cultural exchanges with the United States, long derided as the ``Great Satan'' by earlier governments.
Iranian newspapers today praised Khatami's first 10 months in office, saying he had brought about greater freedom and enhanced the country's image abroad. But many said he still needed to take steps to improve the faltering economy.
``The people are concerned about the economic problems. If their concerns are not properly addressed, they would serve as Khatami's Achilles' heel,'' the Iran News said in an editorial.
Iran has been hard hit by a drop in the price of oil, its main source of income, and last month the government was forced to cut subsidies on bread and gas. The actions triggered soaring inflation.
Besides the economy, Khatami's main struggle is with the hard-liners, who accuse him of betraying the revolution. They hold a slight majority in the Majlis, or parliament.
The arrest of Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi on April 4 was a clear example. Chief Judge Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a hard-liner, accused him of corruption and ordered him detained.
But the move was widely seen as a bid to topple key officials allied with Khatami. Karbaschi had run Khatami's election campaign.
Karbaschi's arrest prompted street demonstrations. He was released April 15 after the intervention of Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, considered an ally of hard-liners.