Tuesday July 14 – the daily story

Moussavi to form new front — Mir-Hossein Moussavi now intends to unite the various strands of the reform movement in a united front, according to one of his closest advisers. Ali Reza Beheshti told journalists Moussavi was still in talks on the details with fellow reformists such as Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi, and would announce the result “soon”. But he said Moussavi’s aim was “a political front, made up of various reform-minded political groups. … The front will be actually a network to coordinate efforts by groups that seek to promote democracy and challenge hardliners who impose their will on the nation in the name of Islam.”

The problem would appear to be how Moussavi’s powerful opponents will react to the move. It was evident from comments reported by the Los Angeles Times that one reason for forming a “front” rather than a specific political party as had been suggested earlier was that a front required no legal authorisation. The paper quotes Hamid-Reza Fouladgar, member of a Majlis committee on specialised political parties, as saying “activity within the framework of a political front does not require official permission”. But the report also suggests that a front would not have the legal right to call any rallies. The grouping will undoubtedly enjoy the backing of Rafsanjani, whose own party has been urging Moussavi in this direction for some days. AP, LAT

German row boils — The Iranian media continues to make much of the story of the German courtroom murder of an Egyptian mother.  Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary under fire at home for failing to halt the wave of post-election detentions, has said the German court officers present when Marwa el-Sherbini was stabbed to death in a Dresden courtroom should be prosecuted for “sheer inaction”. PressTV quoted Shahroudi as telling senior judges: “This unfortunate incident will forever leave its mark on world legal systems. Not only did the German court fail to ensure Marwa’s safety, but to make matters worst, security guards opened fire on her husband, who had came to her defence.”  PressTV carries another story highlighting unrest among Muslims in Germany and noting that it took Chancellor Angela Merkel 10 days to express condolences for the murder to the Egyptian government.  Yet another report on the same website today says Mohammad-Reza Sherbini, Iran’s Unesco representative, has written to the Unesco director general to condemn the murder as a violation of Muslim rights and an example of the desecration of Islamic values in European countries. PressTVPressTV

Detainee’s son accuses Ahmadinejad — The son of detained journalist Issa Saharkhiz has – some will think rather bravely – published online a letter to President Ahmadinejad about his father’s arrest in which he accuses the Iranian leader of betraying the Iranian people “only for power”. It is not clear whether he has actually sent the original directly to Ahmadinejad.

Issa Saharkhiz

Issa Saharkhiz

Amnesty International has declared Saharkhiz a prisoner of conscience ” held solely on account of the peaceful expression of his views … and is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment”.  Saharkhiz, 56, the co-founder of Iran’s Association for the Defence of Press Freedom, has brushed against the authorities before – two of his publications were suspended in 2004 and 2005. The son, Mehdi, says his father, a campaigner for presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, had already been banned from leaving Iran but went into hiding two weeks ago after the authorities raided his house and took away “my dad’s personal belongings, campaign material and his computer from the campaign”. According to Amnesty he continued his activities and an article by him critical of Supreme Leader Khamenei was posted on the Rooz website on July 2. Two days later Saharkhiz was tracked down and taken to an undisclosed location. Amnesty adds:  “His whereabouts have still not been disclosed by the Iranian authorities, despite his family and lawyer’s efforts.”

In  his open letter the son writes:  “I am penning this so you may learn about my father. Perhaps you will realise who you have decided to jail today.” The letter lays out Saharkhiz’s revolutionary credentials and notes that his brother laid down his life in the war with Iraq.  “I wish, you had known my father and had learned something about integrity. I wish you had known him and learned lessons about morality, service and gallantry. My father defends the Prophet Mohammad’s Islam and you simply defend your own position. He … wants Iran to be ruled by a democracy guided by religion, but you and your accomplices want to throw people’s will away for the sake of your worldly interests.”

The letter refers to Ahmadinejad’s reported claim that he saw a holy light around him when he addressed the UN General Assembly in 2005. “Today, after years, I also see the halo that surrounds you. But contrary to your claim that it is a halo of light, I see a halo of lies, deceit, malice, injustice and demagoguery.  …  One day you will be known as the one who betrayed the people, only for power, and you will be known as the one who brutally victimized such revolutionaries as Abtahi, Tajzadeh, Mirdamadi and many others. Be certain that your stance would only bring you disgrace.” The letterProtection Line, larasetrakian, Iran News, rferl.com

Ahmadinejad skips Friday prayers — While Tehran is promised a day of  “green unity” at the upcoming Friday prayers, being led by Ayatollah Rafsanjani, one person who will miss it is President Ahmadinejad. It is reported that he will be travelling to Mashad on Thursday for his delayed traditonal trip to celebrate his election victory. The local governor has arranged a massive welcome from the local people in what is billed as a big show of unity. Perhaps the most interesting thing about all this is that it has been reported on Khattami’s facebook site, quoting the Islamic Republic News Agency and local press.

New media ‘guidelines’ — A new set of media guidelines is being prepared that will ensure criticism of state affairs does not stray from objectivity, according to PressTV. The report, which veers between calling them guidelines and a  proposed new law, quotes Mostafa Pourmohammadi, head of the General Investigation Organisation, as saying the guidelines would ensure “future criticism is constructive and presented in a non-judgmental manner”. The report gives no details of the proposals and does not make it clear exactly who will be affected, but it  specifically quotes him as saying the guidelines would  “not ilimit  the influence of the state media”. Along with the report’s reference to the state media becoming “awash with provocative, insulting, derogatory, and defamatory reports following the June 12 elections” it seems one of the main targets may be  the state broadcaster. which has been widely accused of exceptional bias towards Ahmadinejad.

Pourmohammadi also revealed that a number of cases of the illegal use of state funds during the election has been sent to the courts.  “The use of state resources for pre-election publicity and campaign gains is illegal. In this regard, we have decided to refer a number of cases to court.” PressTV

Basij unrest? — Has all the negative publicity about the basij stirred rebellion? A website entiled Neo-Resistance has posted a translation of a long letter on the mihan.net website from what it says is a group of basij war veterans to Ayatollah Khamenei complaining about his conduct of the election crisis. Naturally, this could be a case of well-crafted disinformation, but if it isn’t the ending (slightly modified for clarity) is pretty strong stuff: “We who have spent part of our lives to promote the Islamic revolution are having hard days and nights. We wish we had fallen in our blood during the [Iraq war] rather than witness the spilling of blood of those who came to the election on your invitation, and even worse had not faced this heavy silence of a large portion of society, which is now in a destructive doubt about you and the Islamic establishment. With wishes for the salvation of Islamic Iran.” The website had earlier posted a poem by Abduljabbar Kakaee, author of several books of poetry on the war, entitled “Letter from a basiji who defended Iran against Saddam, ” which is equally scornful of the current regime. basij ‘letter‘, poem

In other news

13 members of the Jundullah group were hanged in Zahedan today after being convicted of various acts of terrorism at the weekend. But the execution of Abdulhamid Rigi, brother of the group’s fugitive ringleader, was postponed for unexplained reasons. Guardian

A number of students accused of attempting to bomb the chancellor’s office have been arrested at Nushirvani university in Babol, northern Iran, Fars news agency reports. It said the failed plot involved  seven students from the university, one from Payam-e Nur University and two students from the Babol Medical Science university. It accused them of being members of  “several terrorist grouplets in the university”. Fars

Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami have filed complaints against the newspaper Iran and Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s children intend to do likewise, according to Fars news agency. The chief editor, Kava Ishtikhardi, said six 6 complaints had been filed to the court from Mousavi’s election headquarters and another from Khatami. No details were given. Turkish Weekly

Russia has rebuffed an American suggestion linking progress on a US-Russia nuclear arms deal to tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear porogremme. Reuters

Two large Israeli naval ships made the “unusual” journey through the Suez  canal to the Red Sea today, according to port sources at Suez quoted by AFP.  Earlier this month an Israeli submarine was reported to have used the canal in both directions in what was seen as a “message” to Iran. AFP

Reports of ongoing unrest among ethnic Arabs in the oil province of Khuzestan are carried on the “British Ahwazi Friendship Society” website, including the killing of two revolutionary guards on July 4. British Ahwazi Friendship Society

President Ahmadinejad will be sworn in for his second term between August 2 and 6, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. AFP

Exiled singer Mohsen Namjoo has been sentenced in absentia by an Iranian court to a five years in jail for “ridiculing the Qoran and dishonouring the Muslim holy book”.   Fars news agency  quotes a judge as saying that Namjoo, who lives in Vienna, was guilty of “unconventional singing of the Qoran” in a private recording four years ago. AFP

Iran has invited Chinese oil companies to invest in  its 20-year refinery development programme. chinaknowledge.com

The website Kurdish Aspect reported a general strike took place in the Kurdish areas of Iran Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the assassination in Vienna of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the exiled  leader of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, and to condemn the regime’s “policies of assassination and terror”. Kurdish Aspect

Britain’s Foreign Office has relaxed its advice against “all but essential travel” to Iran. Wanderlust

Stung in particular, it seems, by the sarcastic criticism of the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, Roshan Mohammad Salih, the head of news for PressTV in London, has issued a spirited defence of the London-based station funded by the Iranian government, and his role in it. “Although I risk further vilification for saying it, let me be clear: I stand by Iran and I stand by Press TV,” he writes.  “In a nutshell, I work at Press TV because it broadcasts the truth about what is happening in the world, and fills a void that the mainstream media has left wide open. PressTV

And finally: Here’s a scurrilous (but interesting) and totally unsubstantiated video purporting to lay bare the foreign bank accounts of Iran’s leadership. liveleak.com

… and some CNN fun  with bugged presidents. khandaniha,eu

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One response to “Tuesday July 14 – the daily story

  1. Pingback: Tuesday July 14 – the daily story « Iran Election 2009 | Iran Today

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