December 15, 2006 VOLUME 31


To our readers,

The situation in Iraq has been at the center stage of the debates in Washington. While policy reports and congressional visits to the region are announced one after another, the roadmap to peace, stability and democracy in the region begs for a REAL policy on Iran. The needed policy on Iran is not to have another round of “dialogues with Tehran” as suggested by the Iraq Study Group or some members of US Congress. If anything, Washington must realize that for 27 years, the Iranian nation has not been able to hold a dialogue with this fundamentalist regime in Tehran. Any attempt to petition and promote democratic values with the ruling clerics in Tehran has resulted in mass arrests, imprisonment and executions of the people. Let us not forget the massacre of 1988 where 30,000 innocent man and women were executed because of their political opposition with the regime.

For those who may have a short or selective memory of popular opposition to the regime in Tehran, let us look at the turnout of elections in Iran today. The December 15th election in Iran was to elect the 86-member assembly of theologians, men only, with power to elect, dismiss and supervise Iran's highest authority, the Supreme Leader. Despite desperate attempts by the entire leadership in Tehran to have people vote today, WFAFI has received numerous reports indicating popular and widespread boycott of the sham elections in Iran. Empty polls in various cities in Iran is a referendum on all those foreign voices who still promote dialogue with Tehran’s fundamentalist regime. When the Iranian people are turning their back on Tehran’s theocracy, meaning the Supreme Leader and his entire infrastructure, then there is no justification for legitimizing the misogynous and terror-sponsoring regime with further dialogue.

So, going back to a needed Iran-policy and what to do with the situation in Iraq, a wiser approach for Washington is to get out of the way and let the democratic forces in the region bring their own country to peace and stability that is REAL and indigenous. To being with, Washington should align its policies with the leaders of the 5.2 million Iraqis who last summer formed a Solidarity Congress of Iraqi People and condemned  Iranian regime's meddling in their country. Their declaration also lends support for Iran’s main democratic force, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) whose presence in Iraq has acted as a major obstacle to Tehran’s fundamentalist ambitions in Iraq.

Sadly, in 1998, in an attempt for another round of “dialogue and opening”, Washington, as a favor to Tehran, placed the PMOI on its list of terrorist organizations. Soon thereafter, the Europeans followed suite to facilitate better economic relations with Tehran. On December 13, 2006, the European Court of Justice, however, overturned an EU decision to put the PMOI on the bloc’s terror blacklist. The recent ruling also annuls the decision to freeze European assets of the group. Europe is trying to get back on a right track, but for too long Washington’s lack of recognition of the indigenous voice of change has fueled the fire for the extremism in the Middle East. It is time to get out of the way, remove the unnecessary obstacles and allow peoples in the region to bring about a change that is meaningful and lasting for their own nation.

E-Zan Featured Headlines

State-run News Agency ISNA – November 21, 2006

Ayatollah Safi-Gholpaygani in an interview with the news agency said: “It is truly shameful to see women participate in sports such as mountain hiking. Instead they must participate in competitions to promote the Islamic values.” On the issue of women’s employment, he added: “We must not be proud of having women participate in the Councils. Women must stay home and take care of the household affairs, that is their job and they should not consider themselves as unemployed because they are working at home. Women’s chastity is important and homes are the place to protect that.”


Agance France Presse – November 21, 2006

Justice minister Jamal Karimi-Rad Tuesday reaffirmed that Iran is not carrying out death sentences by stoning, despite such verdicts still being handed down to several adulterers.  "We have had no cases of stoning. Such a verdict might have been issued by a lower court but it has never been executed," Karimi-Rad told reporters, adding that "it is extremely difficult" to prove the offenses punishable by stoning.  The sentence has not been removed from the statute books in the Islamic republic. Earlier this month, Iranian women's rights activists launched a campaign to repeal the sentence, to secure "there will be no further such verdicts carried out," women's rights lawyer Shadi Sadr said. She said that research conducted by fellow activists had shown that the sentence had been handed down by a court in the northeastern pilgrimage city of Mashhad as recently as April against a man and a woman convicted of adultery.  "In our investigations, we found out about nine women and two men in different Iranian jails who had been sentenced to stoning," she said.


Agance France Presse – November 22, 2006

Women are increasingly the victims of violence in Iraq, as direct targets of assassinations and as widows left without support after the deaths of their husbands, an Iraqi women's activist said Wednesday. "Many women activists have been murdered, many women university professors. Many women physicians have been killed, women in the police forces, reporters, and journalists," Rajaa Al Khuzai, president of the Iraqi National Council of Women, told a news conference in Vienna. "We are losing an average 100 Iraqi [men] every day ... so I think [we have an additional] 3,000 widows every month ... and all of them are young and have no support for them and their families," she added. "If we want to see stability in the region we have to highlight the role of the women ... women who will make the change on the ground," said Edit Schlaffer, chairwoman of the Vienna-based Women Without Borders.


BBC World News – November 24, 2006

Iranian women have been warned to be on the look-out for cameras hidden in places where they undress, such as fitting rooms, gyms and swimming pools. The chief of Iran's police, Esmail Ahmadi Miqadam, said some shop owners were fitting spy cameras themselves. Iranian authorities want to stop a wave of secretly-filmed pornographic DVDs hitting markets and internet sites. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been championing a drive to banish unwanted Western cultural influences from Iran. Last year, Western and "indecent" music was banned from state-run TV and radio stations. Correspondents say the release of pornographic DVDs of privately-filmed events is a growing trend in Iran.


State-run News Agency – November 26, 2006

ISNA Reported: Haydar-ali, 53-year-old father in Tehran killed his 24-year-old daughter, Zainab, because of her promiscuous behavior and conduct.  He suffocated her during her sleep at 2 a.m. In the court he said: “I accept the charges for killing my daughter. I could not control her behavior and now I know she is asleep underground.”  According to Article 220 of Islamic Penal code, “parents who intentionally kill their children because of promiscuous conduct will not face retribution.”


India Zee News – November 27, 2006

Iran’s conservative cultural body has banned a female writer's award-winning bestseller, which deals with a married woman's secret and unrequited love for another man, a press report said on Monday. "The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has prohibited publication of 'I will turn out the lights' by Zoya Pirzad," the Kargozaran paper quoted publisher Alireza Ramezani as saying. "We have not been informed of the reasons for the ban," he said, adding the vetting officials had refused to renew the publication permit for the book, which has sold more than 200,000 copies in 23 editions since 2001.


The Associated Press – December 4, 2006

The Socialist's stance on Iran is tougher than France's position. Paris wants to punish Teheran for failing to halt uranium enrichment — which can produce material for atomic warheads as well as energy — but it says that, in principle, Iran can have access to nuclear power. Royal said she will press the international community to ban even Iran's civilian nuclear program, which she believes will lead to a military one. "All those who think the contrary show their naivete, and I'm not naive," she told reporters


Radio Farda – December 7, 2006

Government of Iran is discussing resumption of flights to city of Antalya, Turkey. There are three conditions for resumption, however. First condition was to prevent Iranian female tourists visiting the city from going to the beach with bikinis, second to prevent consumption or sale of alcoholic beverages to them, and third was ensure they are observing the Islamic covering throughout their stay in Turkey.


Reuters News Agency – December 10, 2006

Iran will launch a women-only taxi company in Tehran aimed at women who feel uncomfortable riding in close proximity with members of the opposite sex, a newspaper reported on Saturday. “The Ladies’ Safe Trips” taxi company, due to open for business in the next few weeks, will be the first such private sector firm in the capital. Similar taxi lines have been operating in some provincial cities for several years. The company will only employ female drivers who will wear uniforms and must be married, the Tehran-e Emrouz newspaper said.

E-Zan Featured Reports


Author's illustrations convey lost love, death

By Regis Behe


November 19, 2006

Marjane Satrapi doesn't want to be viewed as representative of Iran, her native country. She resists being labeled as an emblematic voice for Iranian women, dissidents or the citizenry at large. "Being responsible for myself is already too much for me," she says. "Being responsible for a whole nation, even for a generation, is really too much." And yet, Satrapi, by way of her "Persepolis" books and the recently published "Chicken With Plums," has come to embody a segment of the Iranian population that does not spout fundamentalist rhetoric or shout "Death to America" in public squares. Those cliched perceptions are dispelled in her graphic novels, which have become bestsellers around the world, especially in the United States, France and Japan. For Satrapi, who was born in 1969, the books are the observations of one person, and nothing more. "I am not a politician, I am not a sociologist," she says, "but I am born in a certain place, in a certain time and can be completely unsure about everything else except what I have seen with my own eyes. ... That's why I wrote it in my own name; not so much that this is an autobiography, because normally, an autobiography is a book in which you solve problems with people that you don't like. That is not my book; I just used my book to talk about everything that happened." "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood," detailed Satrapi's experiences as a child growing up during the Iranian revolution in 1979. Its sequel, "Persepolis II: The Story of a Return," follows her to Austria, where she was sent by her parents to continue her education after she became increasingly resistant to the Islamic fundamentalism taught in her Iranian school, and her subsequent return to Iran. "…

Satrapi's success in the graphic novel genre is all the more unusual, because she grew up almost unaware of the form. She had just read two books -- one notably was Art Spiegelman's "Maus" -- when she started writing and drawing "Persepolis," comics and graphic novels not readily available to her in Iran.  Instead, Satrapi drew inspiration from filmmakers, especially "The Bicycle Thief," the 1948 Italian film directed by Vittorio De Sica. It's about a man whose means to work -- his bicycle -- is stolen. Satrapi thinks the plot exemplifies how a simple incident can stand for larger themes. "It describes the whole post-war drama of Italy in the late '40s and the beginning of the '50s," she says. "And from that I learned the importance of the anecdote; the things that look like nothing but in reality are stories of the everyday, of things people can relate to. It makes the story become universal, even if you are talking about something precise." That inspiration has come full circle; next year, a film version of "Persepolis," featuring the voice of Catherine Deneuve -- a fan of Satrapi's books -- is slated to be released. It will be different from most animated films in that no computer animation is being used; all the images are being hand drawn, requiring 9,100 animators. "Things that are made with computers, today they look good, but two years from now, they will look dated," Satrapi says. "But an animation like 'Snow White,' -- which is far from the style that we are doing -- was made in 1937, almost 70 years ago, and still it's not dated. The human hand does the same thing all the time." Satrapi has not been back to her homeland for a few years. Although she has not been banned, she is wary of the consequences of her return. While her parents, who still live Iran, have not been harassed, she prefers to meet them a few times a year in Paris, where she lives now. Her situation, she thinks, is indicative of the tacit repression of women in Iran. Even though two out of three university students are women, they lag far behind in many areas. "The biggest enemy of a democracy is a patriarchal culture," Satrapi says. "As in a family where a father has the last word, the dictator is the father of a nation. It's good that they study and are instructed and they will work, and when half of the society is not repressed by the other half of the society, the society is moderate. "So we have a government that doesn't represent the people, and that's why it's a dictatorship. Even in a democracy, the president often doesn't represent all the people, so you can imagine how it is in a dictatorship."



Iran's Fundamentalists Push for Segregation on Campus

November 20, 2006

The Guardian

Robert Tait in Tehran

Religious fundamentalists in Iran are demanding separate university classes for men and women in a drive to impose puritanical Islamic values on the country's campuses.  The call - backed by senior figures close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - comes as new statistics show female students outnumbering their male counterparts in a sharp reversal of traditionally masculine-dominated trends.  It is being spearheaded by Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohamadian, a cleric heading the state body representing Mr Khamenei in the nation's universities. Mr Mohamadian warned in a speech that universities were descending into "fashion shows" and urged chancellors to punish students who breached Islamic rules on dress code and gender-mingling. He demanded segregated classes and the evaluation of faculty members on religious and moral grounds to transform the culture.  "At present the public environment of universities is free and the moral situation is offensive," Mr Mohamadian told a gathering of university administrators. "University chancellors are responsible not just for education and research, but for the religion, beliefs and ideas of students. If one or two out of the minority who deface universities are confronted and severely disciplined, the rest will be warned and change their ways."  The demand is in line with a clampdown that has seen CCTV surveillance cameras installed on some campuses. Politically active students have been denied access to courses and large numbers of lecturers forced to retire. Two months ago, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded a purge of liberal and secular lecturers.

Iran's Islamic laws already require men and women to sit in different rows in classes and lecture halls. Campus libraries, reading rooms, refectories and halls of residences are also segregated. The higher education ministry is resisting further separation as impractical and unnecessary. However, the proposal has strong support from MPs on the influential parliamentary cultural committee.  "When the working environment is all-male or all-female, employees and students are liberated from certain distractions," Mousalreza Servati, a committee member, told the ILNA news agency. "In free environments, the possibility exists that when a lady passes, a gentleman likes her face or her behaviour and has it not happened quite often that this interest later results in the wife leaving the husband to marry another man."


Why atom bomb? End prostitution, says Iranian Nobel laureate

By IANS in New Delhi,

Nov 25, 2006

Iran may be toying with the idea of acquiring a nuclear weapon, but Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi argues that the money needed for making an atom bomb can be used better for a more pressing need - ending prostitution and sexual trafficking of women.

"The cost of making an atom bomb should be set against the cost of rescuing and rehabilitating girls and women trapped in prostitution," said Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the only Iranian to win the coveted honour, here Saturday. "Governments complain about not having money or resources to end sexual trafficking of women. But that's only an excuse," Ebadi told rights activists and journalists at the India International Centre here.

The 59-year-old lawyer and human rights activist - an icon for many in Iran - was invited to India by Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an NGO engaged in fighting sexual exploitation of women. Ebadi also launched "The Place Where I Live is Called a Red Light Area" - a book that chronicles the anguish and sadness of teenagers living in Kalighat and Sonagachi - the areas infamous for prostitution in Kolkata. The book contains first person accounts of teenagers living in a place scorned by civilised society and evokes their raw feelings of rejection and daily humiliation through simple but haunting sketches. "In your country, the military budget is more than the combined budget on health and education," Ebadi said while pointing to the flourishing of prostitution in different parts of India despite a legal bar on it. Iranian women were trafficked to different countries and some of them ended up in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Ebadi also said that despite being illegal in Iran, prostitution not only thrived but women were also trafficked into that country from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Caucasian countries. "The victory of feminist movements in every country will open the door for more democracy. A sacred battle is being fought in Iran for equal rights of men and women," she added. Ebadi outlined some steps for the rehabilitation of sex workers by teaching them alternative skills and opening of more vocational courses by the government. "Violence against women knows no geographical boundaries, caste or class. Taking measures to stop violence against women is central to the 11th five year plan," said Syeda Hameed, women rights activist and a member of the Planning Commission.


Maryam Rajavi savours her victory

France 3, French TV,

December 12, 2006

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, founded in 1965 in opposition to the Shah’s regime in Iran, and then to the Islamic Republic, won its case before the European justice. Considered as a terrorist movement, the Mojahedin had its European assets frozen. The EU Court of First Instance reckoned that this decision was taken in violation of the right to defense and decided to overturn it.

Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian Resistance, invited to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, heard about the removal of sanctions against her organization labelled as terrorist by the European Union with joy. This represents rehabilitation for this activist who struggles against the Iranian mullahs’ regime.

Maryam Radjavi: “This is the victory of justice over compromise with the mullahs, because this label was imposed on the request of the mullahs’ regime's.” The European Union is extremely embarrased. It might be obliged to remove the Mojahedin from its list of dangerous organizations, a backlash against its antiterrorist policy, modelled on the United Nations’.

Also a backlash for the French antiterrorist justice and Judge Bruguière. In 2003, soon after the war in Iraq, he launched a vast police operation against the Mojahedin based in Paris suburb. Militants who had been in France for 20 years, were suddenly designated as dangerous terrorists. 17 of them, including Maryam Rajavi, are still indicted in this case.

But today, the interests of the Mojahedin are very similar to that of the international community which is wrestling with Iran on the nuclear file.

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Volume 31, December 15, 2006

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