November 1998, Week 4
|Iran's Khatemi Asks for Tolerance of Free Expression||November 30|
|Iran Talks About American Attack||November 29|
|Thousands Honor Iranian Dissident||November 27|
|Iran condemns attack on Americans||November 24|
|Iranian Film Dropped From Festival||November 23|
|U.S. Courts Iran to Topple Saddam||November 23|
|Iranian opposition leader, wife stabbed to death||November 22|
|Iran militants attack U.S. visitors' car||November 22|
Iran's Khatemi Asks for Tolerance of Free Expression
TEHRAN- President Mohammed Khatemi issued a strong plea today for tolerance of freedom of thought within Iran's Islamic system, warning the cou
ntry's newspaper barons that any other course would lead to social explosion.|
Khatemi told a gathering of newspaper chiefs, including leading critics of his ambitious reform program, that the Islamic revolution must not b e afraid to borrow positive aspects of "freedom" from liberal democracies.
"Thought could be blocked for a short while, but it would only be driven underground and eventually lead to social explosion," said Khatemi, a moderate Shiite Muslim cleric and a former newspaper publisher.
"Those who are concerned about the revolution's values are correct, but didn't our revolution take place in order to create a free society in w hich human beings enjoy respect?" the president asked his audience of Shiite clerics and businessmen of all stripes who manage the daily press.
Since Khatemi's surprise landslide election last year, the Iranian press has become a prime battleground for the president and his conservative critics in the clerical establishment.
The notion of freedom of the press, as well as other forms of expression, has pitted the reformists around the president against the traditiona lists. Several moderate journalists have been jailed and their newspapers closed in the heat of the battle.
Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, a leading conservative theoretician, used last week's Friday prayers in Tehran to blast runaway freedom as a threa t to Iran's social and religious order.
"Freedom and diversity of thought do not threaten the society's security," Khatemi said. "Rather, limiting freedom does so," the president said .
"Criticizing the government and state organizations at any level is not detrimental to the system. On the contrary, it is necessary," he said.
Iran Talks About American Attack
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The 13 U.S. ``tourists'' attacked by Islamic militants in Tehran last week were members of a business delegation exploring
investment opportunities, Iran disclosed today. |
Some of the Americans were injured when extremists chanting ``Death to America,'' used stones and metal bars Saturday to smash the windows of t heir bus.
The attack followed reports in hard-line newspapers accusing the visitors of being members of the Central Intelligence Agency posing as tourist s.
The United States denied any of the Americans were government officials or had links to the CIA. The group left Iran on Sunday.
The disclosure that the Americans were businessmen came from Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. Iranian officials previously describe d the Americans as tourists.
Asefi, who did not identify the Americans further, said they were allowed into Iran to increase pressure against U.S. sanctions that ban U.S. c ompanies from investing in Iran.
``Iran will use all possible means to increase public awareness, as it welcomes the activities of foreign companies, including American compani es, against the U.S. sanctions,'' the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Asefi as saying.
But Asefi said that allowing the Americans into Iran did not soften the government's resolve against resuming diplomatic relations with the Uni ted States.
On Thursday, President Mohammad Khatami condemned the attack as ``an affront to the honor of the Iranian people.''
The Fedayeen Islam, a radical Muslim group largely dormant since Iran's Islamic revolution, claimed responsibility for the bus attack.
The United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran after Islamic militants took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran shortly after the 1979 revolut ion.
Thousands Honor Iranian Dissident
By Afshin Valinejad|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A funeral procession for a slain dissident and his wife turned into a rally Thursday, with tens of thousands of mourners p ledging to continue his struggle for freedom.
Many in the crowd carried large photos of Dariush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh, who were stabbed to death in their Tehran home. Their bodies were discovered Sunday; police reportedly have taken several suspects into custody.
In a speech to Intelligence Ministry officials Thursday, President Mohammad Khatami said Foruhar's killers must be brought to justice.
``The murder of the late Mr. Foruhar is condemned. The government, and especially the intelligence network, have a very important duty to confr ont it,'' Khatami said in comments reported by the state-run radio.
``If we don't deal with the crime seriously, and not identify the culprits, the episode will not only constitute a disrespect for our (Islamic) system, it will become the beginning of more problems to come,'' Khatami said.
Khatami, a moderate cleric elected last year, has promised more political freedoms.
But he faces strong opposition from hard-line opponents who are backed by street vigilantes who have often taken the law into their hands.
Over the past year, the vigilantes have attacked dissidents, liberal newspapers and even a reformist Cabinet minister. They have also broken up pro-democracy rallies.
The Iran News daily on Thursday quoted a police official as saying that several people had been arrested in connection with murders of Foruhar and his wife. It gave no other details.
Tens of thousands of supporters turned out for Foruhar's funeral at the Fakhr Mosque in downtown Tehran, not far from where the couple had live d.
Streets around the neighborhood were closed to traffic by police, who formed human chains to try to control the crowds.
That led to small scuffles as the mourners pushed past the policemen and made their way from the mosque to the old Parliament. The building is a symbol of a nationalist movement that Foruhar helped found in the 1950s.
``You will live forever, Foruhar,'' the mourners chanted. ``Your struggle continues with us.''
After a mass prayer held in the streets, thousands of mourners crammed into buses for the 30-minute ride to the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery south of Tehran for the burial.
Foruhar, 70, was the leader of the People's Party of Iran, a small opposition group that is tolerated by the government.
He served as minister of labor and social affairs in the provisional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan immediately after the 1979 Isl amic Revolution that toppled the monarchy.
His wife was in her mid-50s.
Iran condemns attack on Americans
A senior Iranian official has
condemned a recent attack on a bus carrying Americans and others, saying that Iran will take all necessary steps t
o protect visitors to the country.
Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh was quoted by the daily Iran News on Tuesday as saying anyone granted a visa to Iran had the right to personal security and safety.
"The government is obliged to provide security for all countries' citizens. The lives of the people must be protected even if they are our opponents," Tajzadeh told the English- language newspaper.A group naming itself after Islamic extremists known for political assassinations said it was behind the attack, n ewspapers reported on Tuesday.
"A group called Fadaeeyan-e Eslam (Devotees of Islam)...in a letter claimed responsibility for the attack on the convoy of... Americans who had travelled to Tehran," Hamshahri newspaper said. Other newspapers carried similar reports.
Islamic militants chanting "Death to America" used clubs and metal bars on Saturday to smash the windows of the bus carrying a group of 13 non-Iranians, including U.S. citizens, after hardline newspapers accused them of being spie s.
A number of Iranian officials condemned the attack. The Qods daily reported on Tuesday that conservative members of parliament's foreign affairs commission were planning to summon Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to account for the visit. In the meantime, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a new move aimed at improving ties with Tehran, ha s recommended that President Bill Clinton remove Iran from the U.S. list of major illicit drug-producing countries, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.
The official told Reuters a new U.S. survey has concluded that Iran has eradicated much of the country's illicit poppy cultivation and thus it "no longer meets the statutory justification" for inclusion on the U.S. list.
The official said it was hoped Iran would see the decision as evidence that the United States makes judgments on t he basis of facts and "they are not based on some preordained desire to isolate Iran."
This was the latest gesture by Washington in a hesitant, slow-moving diplomatic effort to improve relations between the two countries since moderate Mohammad Khatami, became Iran's president in 1997.
Washington broke off diplomatic relations in April 1980, five months after militant students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Switzerland currently looks after U.S. interests in Iran.
Iranian Film Dropped From Festival
NEW YORK (AP) -- A screening of an Iranian film adapted without permission from J.D. Salinger's novel ``Franny
and Zooey'' was canceled after representatives of the reclusive author threatened legal action. |
The film, ``Pari,'' was to have been shown Friday as part of a three-week Iranian film festival by the Film Soc iety of Lincoln Center.
Problems arose after Salinger learned that the film was based on his 1961 novel, The New York Times reported Sa turday.
``They simply did not seek permission from the copyright owner of the novel,'' said R. Andrew Boose, a lawyer f or Salinger.
The film was shown at Lincoln Center in 1996, said Richard Pena, programming director for the film society, and at that time there was no question about the copyright.
This time, Pena said, the society was left with no option other than to cancel the screening of the 1995 movie, directed by Dariush Mehrjui.
The film is ``loosely based'' on Salinger's book, conceded Mehrjui. He said he wrote to Salinger seeking permis sion to adapt the book, and that when he received no reply he took that as tacit approval to proceed.
``This reaction is really quite bewildering,'' Mehrjui told the Times. ``I don't want to distribute the film co mmercially. ... I just want to let the film be seen for the critics and the people that follow my work.''
``In our country we don't have copyrights,'' Mehrjui said. ``We feel free to read and do whatever we want.''
U.S. Courts Iran to Topple Saddam
By Barry Schweid|
AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Determined to see Iraqi President Saddam Hussein stripped of power, the Clinton administrati on is casting an eye to Iran, a longtime foe of Baghdad.
If Iran tried to undermine Saddam, ``we are not going to complain,'' State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said Friday.
That could take the form of assisting Shiite Muslims or others who have felt the sting of Saddam's rule. Howeve r, Rubin also said, ``We are not working with them (the Iranians) in any shape or form or soliciting their supp ort.''
President Clinton, meanwhile, took a cautious tone over Iraq's refusal to turn over sensitive documents to U.N. weapons inspectors just a week after a U.S. threat of military airstrikes forced Iraq to allow the return of U nited Nations investigators.
``It's important we not overreact here on the first day,'' Clinton said when asked about the dispute at a news conference today during his visit to South Korea. ``I want to make sure that I know exactly what the facts are. ''
Iraqi officials told chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler on Friday that many of the documents he reques ted were destroyed, never existed or already had been turned over. Baghdad also said it would allow only a part ial viewing of an Iraqi air force document.
Clinton supported Butler's insistence on having access to the documents.
``I think that Mr. Butler is a professional person,'' Clinton said. ``They are testing Iraq's commitment and I hope that Iraq will comply ... and give them the information they seek.''
The president's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, resurrected the possibility of military action. ``We'v e said all along that the issue here is whether Iraq will meet its obligations under the Security Council resol utions and whether UNSCOM is able to do its work,'' Berger said at a press briefing following Clinton's news co nference. ``If we reach the conclusion that the answer to those questions is negative we obviosuly are prepared to act.''
In Baghdad, the state-run Al-Jumhuriya slammed efforts by the Clinton administration -- with British backing -- to support Iraqi opposition groups intent on overthrowing Saddam.
``Senior American and British officials have unveiled their policy of conspiracy and revenge against Iraq ... a nd their disregard for international law,'' the newspaper said. It also accused Washington and London of ``thre atening terrorism against Iraq.''
On the issue of Iran, Rubin was trying to clarify U.S. policy after a senior U.S. official, asked whether the a dministration was considering help from Iran, replied: ``We will certainly take support wherever we can get it. ''
``All of Iraq's neighbors have a common interest in seeing a different government there, one that is responsive to Iraq's international obligations, one that is prepared to live in peace with its neighbors,'' he said.
Iraq and Iran are uneasy neighbors in the Persian Gulf region that fought a long, costly war in the 1980s but c ooperate in setting worldwide prices for their oil output.
The official agreed to discuss President Clinton's new policy of backing groups opposed to Saddam Hussein only if he was not identified.
He said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright soon will name a coordinator to direct the campaign against Sadda m and within six weeks the administration hoped to compile a list of groups it considered eligible for U.S. mil itary assistance.
Rubin later said: ``We are not in cahoots with Iran in this effort. What we are doing is working with friends a nd allies and opposition groups. Of course, Saddam Hussein has no shortage of enemies, especially Iran.''
Iranian opposition leader, wife stabbed to death
(Reuters) -- A veteran Iranian opposition leader and his wife, who were outspoken critics of the Islamic govern
ment, were found stabbed to death at their home, the Iranian news agency reported Sunday.
IRNA quoted police as saying Dariush Foruhar, former labor minister and head of the small nationalist Iran Nati on Party, and his wife, Parvaneh, were found dead at their home in Tehran.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement police discovered the bodies on Sunday afternoon, but that the two ha d been killed several hours earlier, IRNA reported.
Police have begun a major investigation, the statement added.
Foruhar, 70, and his wife, 58, often criticized alleged violations of human and political rights in interviews with Persian-language programs beamed to Iran by Western radios.
The Iran Nation Party, an illegal but tolerated secular group also known as the People's Party of Iran, publish es a newsletter which often carries exclusive reports of alleged rights violations.
The group had called for a boycott of last month's nationwide elections to a powerful clerical assembly, saying democratic elections were impossible in Iran today.
Foruhar was one of the few old-time opposition leaders who had not gone into exile and had continued to speak o ut in Iran.
Hard-line Muslim militants had on several occasions over the past few years attacked meetings of Foruhar's part y.
Foruhar, who spent several years in jail during the rule of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, briefly joined Islamic forces and served as labor minister in the first government after the 1979 revolution which toppled th e shah.
But he went into opposition after fundamentalist followers of the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini consolidated their hold on power.
Foruhar was a close associate of the late Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, whose liberal Islamic cabinet served f or nine months after the revolution. In the 1950s, he was an ally of the late nationalist leader Mohammad Mossa deq.
Several prominent exiled Iranian opposition figures have been assassinated since 1979. Iran has denied involvem ent, blaming the slayings on infighting among dissidents. Killings of opposition leaders inside the country hav e been rare.
Iran militants attack U.S. visitors' car
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Islamic militants shouting
"death to America" smashed windows of a car in Tehran carrying
a group of American visitors accused by hardliners of being
spies, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The hardline evening newspaper Kayhan said the attack occurred on Saturday outside the Tehran hotel where the group of 13 Americans were staying, forcing them to cut their trip short.
The paper did not say if anybody was hurt. It was not clear who the Americans were. One of them declined to comment when contacted by a Western journalist after the reported attack.
Hardline newspapers in Iran had blasted the visit as a "political mission under the guise of tourism," saying some of the travellers were CIA agents and that they had met a government minister in Tehran.
But Iran's Foreign Ministry said it had no information about a visit by any official U.S. delegation.
Kayhan said an Iranian official went to the hotel to "console" the U.S. citizens and took them to lunch. The Americans left for Washington on Saturday night, it added.
Kayhan quoted a Foreign Ministry official as telling it the visit had been arranged by a former Iranian diplomat who served at Iran's interest section in Washington more than 15 years ago.
The former diplomat, Ali Zabzalian, has not been affiliated with the ministry since, it added.
Kayhan quoted Zabzalian as telling it the visit by the Americans was arranged "in the context of breaking America's sanctions against Iran."
Relations between Iran and the United States were severed after militant students in 1979 stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The United States has since imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Grassroots contacts between the two countries have been on the rise since moderate President Mohammad Khatami's landmark television address to the American people in January, calling for dialogue between the peoples of the two countries.