Wednesday September 16 – the daily story

The main headlines

It was confirmed today that another tradition has been dumped to spare the regime’s blushes and Ayatollah Rafsanjani will not be leading Friday prayers in Tehran on Qods Day this Friday. His place will be taken by that hardline stalwart, Ayatollah Sayed Ahmad Khatami, aided and abetted by President Ahmadinejad who will again make a speech. Some thought the following line from the PressTV report might have put its finger on why:  “The statement came a day after … Rafsanjani, who usually leads Qods Day prayers, urged an epic turnout on Friday.”  PressTV, NYT, LAT

— Messages of support for the Green participation in the Qods Day rally continue to pour forth. Three today, from the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Sanei,  and Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, Hassan Khomeini, each emphasised a quote they attributed to the late Imam that “Qods Day is not only limited to Qods [Jerusalem] but is an international day for the oppressed to condemn oppression in any form and in any corner of the world,” an attempt to give legitimacy to the Green movement’s plan effectively to hijack the rally.

— Reports indicate a great deal of organisation is going into bringing out the “Green feet” on Friday, much of it involving posters and the distribution of flyers giving details of the marches. This video shows one brave young lady in Mashad reading out a statement on democracy inside a bus and then announcing details of the local rally. YouTube

Israel will be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear sites if the West does not agree crippling sanctions against the country by the end of the year, according to Ephraim Sneh, a former Israeli deputy defence minister. Emphasising he was speaking in a personal capacity, he said he feared the US and Europe lacked the decisiveness to take the necessary action. “We cannot live under the shadow of an Iran with nuclear weapons.” Reuters

— President Sarkozy has said French intelligence agencies are certain Iran is hiding a nuclear weapons program, it was reported today. He said the West could not  let Iran acquire nuclear weapons because it would be a threat to Israel. He added that he did not want to shake the hand of someone who wants to wipe Israel off the map, referring to President Ahmadinejad. It was also revealed that Sarkozy had discussed the Iranian nuclear issue with President Obama Tuesday. Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed Sarkozy’s claim.  smh.com, AFP, PressTV

Russia says it has finished investigating the case of the Arctic Sea cargo ship allegedly hijacked in July, without finding any weapons, and is preparing to hand the ship to authorities in Malta, where it is registered. Critics say the investigation was a cover-up and the ship was carrying missiles to Iran. BBC

Iran’s hardline Kayhan daily and IRNA news agency have renewed their attacks on the Institute for the Publication and Propagation of Imam Khomeini’s Works as well as its head, Khomeini’s grandson Hassan Khomeini, Rooz Online reports. In an editorial published Tuesday,  Kayhan said the institute has been transformed into a centre for fighting against  Khomeini’s ideas and it needed “serious purification”. It added that  Hassan Khomeini had been “suspiciously” silent over the clear manipulation of the Imam’s ideas by Ayatollahs Yousef Sanei, Mohammad Khatami, and Mehdi Karoubi. The Institute on Saturday filed a lawsuit against Kayhan accusing it of “shameful insults”. Rooz

— There are reports on Twitter that a representative of Iraq-based Grand Ayatollah Sistani, regarded as Shia Islam’s highest marja, is in Iran talking to senior clerics about the political situation. The posts suggest Hojatoleslam Shahrestani has had several meetings with the Grand Ayatollahs in Qom, amid reports of a private message from Sistani to Ayatollah Khamenei attacking the bloodthirsty behaviour of the regime and warning against politicizing Islam.

Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani said a task force working on the Ahmadinejad administration’s economic reform plan has approved a proposal to lop three zeros off the Rial, but the measure would not be carried out until the country’s double-digit inflation rate had been cut. PressTV

Gunmen today shot down a judge, Hassan Davtalab,  in the Kurdish capital of Sanandaj, three days after the assassination of the city’s Friday prayers leader and a previous  failed attempt to kill a Revolutionary Court judge. There is no word of Davtalab’s condition. PressTV

Javad Emam, a leading member of the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution and Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s election campaign manager in Tehran, has been released from prison on “heavy bail” after 90 days inside, parlemannews reported. He was among the defendants at the second mass trial hearing. PressTV

Brigadier General Massoud Jazaeri, deputy head of the Iranian military, has demanded that the Reformist faction in the Majlis back up their claim of September 8 that the military was involved in the presidential election. PressTV

Iran is increasingly obtaining US military equipment and technology through shipments to Malaysian middlemen that illegally circumvent trade restrictions, according to American officials and analysts. Bloomberg

Larry Klayman, the founder of  Freedom Watch, has announced that he will seek to serve President Ahmadinejad with a class action complaint, filed in the Washington DC federal court on behalf of all oppressed, tortured and murdered Iranians, when he visits New York next week. Reuters

— The three-time Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone is in talks with Iran to make a big screen documentary on President Ahmadinejad. link

— Women Without Men, the first feature film by photographer and video artist Shirin Neshat, has won the Silver Lion for best director at the Venice Film Festival.California Chronicle

In more detail

And in this case, setting the record straighter than it was. The inestimable homylafayette blog gives us a detailed translation of the confrontation that earned a mosque-goer a slap from a revolutionary guardsman or, as it amusingly puts it, “the slap heard around the cyberworld”. Turns out the guardsman was in all probability General Abdollah Araghi, head  of the guards in Tehran and commander of the Mohammad Rasoulollah Brigade. And the man he slapped was a Basij war veteran whose son was killed by a revolutionary guard in a row at the housing complex they shared.  Seems the guards were upset that the father didn’t bow to pressure for clemency and the guard was executed. What upset the father, apart from the loss of his son, was that the funeral ceremony for the murderer was held in the same housing block – using Basij funds!

Rooz Online has more on Rafsanjani’s threat to quit.

And finally

What the Iranian media dismally failed to report on Monday was that Facebook itself was among the defendants at the mass trial and made a point of standing up and making a full confession to the packed courtroom. Don’t believe me? The shocking evidence is here for all to see.

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