Tuesday September 15 – the daily story

The main headlines

As opposition excitement over Qods Day on Friday reached almost fever-pitch,  Ayatollah Rafsanjani called for an “epic” turnout“ to foil the world powers’ plot to sow discord among Muslims”. As usual it was a message that could be read two ways. On the one hand it could be seen as a call to a unified demonstration in the name of Palestinian rights, the original purpose of the day when it was established by Ayatollah Khomeini – “God forbid that the rifts (among Muslims) provide an opportunity for the enemy to make a gain, an enemy which has waited years in the hope of erasing the true Islamic identity of Qods”. On the other, the mere fact that he called for a massive turnout, knowing that much of it would be from supporters of the reformist movement, will be taken by the opposition as a tacit rallying cry. Some reports of his statement say that he described the event as  “an eternal warning to the ignorant” and said the rally was an opportunity for “condemning the crimes and totalitarianism of the minority”. The rally, he said, “will shake the spider web-like foundations of despotism … It is always the darkest before dawn”.  In addition, amid speculation that the regime, fearful of a huge Green turnout on Friday, might cancel the Qods demonstrations as it has so many other potential flashpoint events over Ramadan, the following quote seemed to be a specific rejoinder against that: “God forbid that Qods day, which the Islamic Revolution’s wise old leader called the day of Islam’s awakening, be forgotten because of these disputes.” PressTV

—  Mir-Hossein Moussavi has confirmed via his official Kalemeh website that he will be taking part in the Qods Day rally “as this is the day to support the innocent and oppressed”.  Earlier the RouydadNews website said Mehdi Karoubi and Mohammad Khatami would also take part to “protest against  assault in all its forms, violence and repression”. Reformist sites carried a rallying message from Mohammad Sadeghi which seemed to rule out any idea of watering down their part in the rallies and sticking to the Palestinian plot. “This year Qods Day will be Green, so that all shall know assault is appalling, no matter where or by whom. … This year the Iranian nation, a nation as old as the civilization, invites the world and especially the oppressed Palestinian nation … to be Green, to wear Green and to think Green in solidarity with us, the Green. We have been victimised in a full scale assault not by strangers, not by disbelievers and not only in our rights, but by coup agents claiming to be Muslims and our fellow citizens. “ Full message

— A furious media tug-of-war has been going on over whether Rafsanjani will be leading the Qods Day Friday prayers, as he is technically due to do. The hardline press has been doing its best to suggest he is being replaced, but Rafsanjani’s own site suggests he has not yet made up his mind. You can read  an account of the verbal  ding-dong on the Homylafayette blog

— It has now emerged that at least seven children and grandchildren of senior clerics in the religious city of Qom have been arrested, including the three grandchildren of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri whose arrests were reported Monday. Reports on Twitter suggest the offspring took part in an anti-government  rally on Friday outside the office of Grand Ayatollah Sanei after he had delivered a blistering speech against the regime. However, the arrests are also being viewed as pressure on the top clergy not to overstep the mark at this sensitive juncture.  NYT

— Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib has said that if the rumours of the impending arrests of Moussavi and Karoubi are true it would be “an irreversible mistake”.  According to the mowjcamp website he added  that there was no wish to issue threats and “we have neither military capability nor the ability to deal with trained soldiers, tear gas and guns”. But he emphasised that this might not be enough to stop people from expressing  their anger. Arresting the two reformist leaders “will have unfortunate consequences for everyone”.

— Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf has issued a warning against politicising Islam. “In my meetings with political parties I say to them, do not make the marja a front for your actions. The people elected you in order to bear this responsibility; you are the ones that run the country.” asharq alawsat

— At the request of the Netherlands, the EU is investigating the possibility of banning the export of internet filters to Iran. NIS News

People who think the anger against the regime is restricted to the north Tehran middle class should look at this video making the rounds of the net. In it we are told a war veteran is protesting about  his son’s death, presumably at his local mosque,  and talking about the threats he has faced after following up on the case. The seated Revolutionary Guards officer says he should have dropped the case and, if he was a man, should simply have accepted his son’s death in the first place. Then he gives him a slap! YouTube

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev  hinted today that Moscow is prepared to perform a major policy U-turn and support US  moves for sanctions against Iran. Free Internet Press, Daily Times

— The Iranian nuclear programme will be at the top of the American agenda at next month’s talks with Iran,  even though Iranian officials insist it is off the table, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today. She insisted the US would not be drawn into a lengthy and fruitless diplomatic dance with Iran, as some analysts have warned. NYT

— The talks on October 1 between Iran and six world powers will probably be held in Turkey, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said today. AFP

— If Iran gets nuclear weapons, Israel will inevitably make a military attack on it according to the latest strategic survey from the International Institute for Strategic Studies. timesonline

The RouydadNews website has come out with a list of more than 100 actors, writers poets and film makers who have been banned from state TV because of their support for Moussavi or Karoubi. Pedestrian blog

Business Monitor International has lowered its GDP growth forecast for Iran in 2009/10 to a “sluggish” 1.4%. Payvand

Iran today indicated that India’s ambivalence on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, apparently under US pressure,  could compel Tehran to consider inviting China to join the project. Tribune India

Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motaki has sent official letters of protest to the four Caspian Sea littoral states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia over their l meeting in Kazakhstan on Thursday. gazeta.kz

Iran has released on bail seven Christian converts that had been held in Tehran’s Evin prison for more than a month, International Christian Concern reported today. WashingtonTV

Despite the official animosity between the two countries, dozens of environmental experts and scientists from the United States and Iran gathered in Porvoo, southern Finland, on Monday for a two-day seminar on environmental issues. zikkir

U2 again paid tribute to the Iranian reform struggle at their weekend concerts in Chicago. Iranian

An Iranian company is in talks with the state broadcaster about airing a Persian-dubbed version of the hit TV series Lost. Guardian

In more detail

The ISNA news agency published the full text of Iran’s proposals to the group of six superpowers it is to meet next month.

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