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Iranian Alert -- December 10, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 12.10.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/10/2003 12:03:03 AM PST by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” But most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping!
21 posted on 12/10/2003 10:26:03 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: BigSkyFreeper
Exactly - you are right Big Sky - that's why we have to be the voice.. each and everyone of us - putting out the news..
22 posted on 12/10/2003 10:27:00 AM PST by faludeh_shirazi
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To: All
MKO: Iran's exiled armed opposition group

December 10, 2003
IranMania News

BAGHDAD, Dec 9, (AFP) -- The People's Mujahedeen, which Iraq's interim Governing Council decided unanimously Tuesday to expel from the country, is the leading Iranian opposition movement, whose "terrorist" epithet it strongly denies.

The council said in a statement it was taking the decision "because of the dark history of this terrorist organisation."

It did not say where the group's several thousand members in Iraq would be sent when they were expelled, but that its offices would be closed and its arms and financial resources confiscated.

The money would "be given to the compensation fund for victims of the former fascist regime" of Saddam Huusein.

Several thousand Mujahedeen militiamen were disarmed by US forces following the fall of Baghdad in April and barred from undertaking military operations.

Around 4,000-5,000 people were grouped in Camp Ashraf, the main Mujahedeen base in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. The US army announced in September that it had detained 3,856 of its members.

They were also bombed by the US-led coalition during the Iraq war, but in early May it reached a truce with US forces.

The Mujahedeen were given sanctuary by Saddam in 1986 after being driven out of Iran in the wake of a vicious power struggle following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The group has been classed as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department, the European Union and the Iranian government, but says it is merely fighting oppression under the Islamic regime in Tehran.

Tehran had demanded that US forces hand over the opposition fighters in Iraq and warned that they should not be used "as a pressure lever."

A Shiite and Marxist-inspired movement, the group took part in the 1979 Islamic revolution to overthrow the shah but was then forced into exile after clashes with the new regime that cost thousands of lives.

It continued to fight with bomb attacks and assassinations inside Iran, but never posed a serious threat to the regime, despite spectacular strikes against oil pipelines and the mausoleum of the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Mujahedeen stepped up their operations after Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997, claiming the 1999 assassination in Tehran of general Ali Sayad Shirazi, one of the highest-ranking army officers at the time.

After his election, Khatami demanded that Western powers oust the Mujahedeen. For its part, the movement urged these same powers to sever ties with Tehran.

Iran's leadership considers Mujahedeen leader Massoud Rajavi "a terrorist with blood on his hands", while Rajavi spares no opportunity to attack what he calls "the mullahs' inhuman regime."

The People's Mujahedeen were created in 1965 as a splinter group of Mehdi Bazargan's Iran Freedom Movement. All of its founding members died behind bars under the shah.

After France expelled Massoud Rajavi, the Mujahedeen set up bases in Iraq in 1986 following an agreement with Saddam, who was then in the thick of an eight-year war with Iran, and created the Iranian National Liberation Army (INLA).

According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, it had some 15,000 fighters, who lived under stringent rules and revered their leader and his wife, Maryam, presented as "the future first lady of Iran".

Born in Tehran in 1953, Maryam was joint leader of the Mujahedeen in the late 1980s but resigned after being made president-elect for a future Iranian government by the NCRI in 1993.

Branded "the hypocrites" by Tehran, the Mujahedeen regularly reported attacks against its bases, as well as incursions of its own into Iran.

The whereabouts of Massoud Rajavi remain unkown, according to diplomatic sources, but Mujahedeen spokesmen insist he is still in Iraq.
23 posted on 12/10/2003 11:01:23 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
MKO, is a Marxist-Islamist group. Friends and supporters of Saddam and Taliban.
Enemies of Persians and world security.
So much hated among true persians.
24 posted on 12/10/2003 11:04:29 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
Maryam, presented as "the future first lady of Iran"

She and Hillary Clinton are birds of a feather.

25 posted on 12/10/2003 11:56:50 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
Amir Taheri: Delving into the depths of an extremist's mind


How to fight extremism? This is a question that a number of Muslim theologians will be debating in Makkah, later this month. The debate is long overdue. For, in its various modern shapes, extremism has been responsible for many tragedies in the Muslim world and beyond over the past decades.

In the 1980s over a million people died in the Iran-Iraq war, which was provoked by the clash of two extremes. Since 1992 an estimated 120,000 Algerians have died as a result of a war unleashed by extremist groups. The clash of extremist groups in Afghanistan claimed over 100,000 lives between 1992 and 2002.

In the final decades of the last century no fewer than 30 Muslim nations, notably Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt, suffered from terrorism unleashed by extremist groups. Today there is hardly a Muslim country that is not threatened by extremist violence.

The high cost of extremism in terms of human lives should not hide its other devastating effects. By creating a climate of intellectual terror, extremism tries to impose atrophy on creative thought in the Muslim world.

It hampers economic development, and provides an excuse for despots to refuse social and political reform. Like a whirlwind it tries to destroy all cultural, literary and artistic endeavours by Muslims, seeking a tabula rasa on which to draw its retroactive Utopia.

The history of the Muslim world is ridden with the rise and fall of extremist movements, often of a cabalistic nature, that have tried to seize control of mainstream Islam. Many disappeared, while some have survived in the form of esoteric sects.

Islam, of course, is not the only religion to face extremism. Christianity and Judaism, the other two Abrahamic faiths, have also been haunted by extremism in one form or another for centuries.

Extremism is like a shadow that always follows the development of theo-political thought in any religion. So what should Muslim theologians do when they discuss extremism? The first thing is to expose its political nature. For extremism has always been, and remains, a political animal in a theological skin.

While faith is concerned with the transcendental, politics is the realm of the temporal. Man changes, but the text does not, although it could be read differently at different times. Any attempt at projecting an eternity into our limited human time is bound to lead to distortion. A transcendence that tries to define itself through the temporal cannot but lead to violence and tragedy.

Timeless time

The Islamic time is not serial; it consists of instances of varying lengths, significance and quality. It is no accident that the word "zaman" (temporal time) is not mentioned in the Holy Quran. Instead we have a number of other terms: dahr, which one could translate as timeless time, hayn, which is a segment of dahr, asr, which is a brief or compressed period in time, and massir which denotes becoming as opposed to being.

Finally, there is also the word taur, meaning a phase, which is mentioned only once in the Holy Quran.

A robotic reading of the text is always aimed at twisting it to do what it is not intended for, which is providing answers to temporal political questions.

The Holy Quran is capable of different readings: Suyuti cites up to 17 for some key words. And then we must take into account the incidents of the revelation (asbab nuzul) that run into hundreds. (Bukhari counts up to 618.) Finally, we also have the ambiguities (mubhamat) which, according to Suyuti amount to 250 instances.

Thus any attempt at imposing a single, arbitrary reading as the final and definitive one is a political move designed to secure for an individual or group the authority that is ultimately incumbent only on the text itself.

Next, theologians would have to ask why it is that political movements, which are ultimately interested in achieving power, seek religious expression? One answer may be the refusal of Muslim societies to allocate a distinct space within which individuals and groups can compete for power in political, and not theological, terms.

In the absence of institutions such as parliaments and parties, the mosque becomes the only space where citizens can form and exchange political views. This leads to a theologisation of politics which, in turn, ends up by politicising theology.

Wherever extremism appears in violent forms, including terrorism, it has to be combated through effective policing and, when necessary, repression. It is foolish to believe that a man who is prepared to kill and die for what he imagines to be the only truth could be persuaded to change his mind through theological debate. A tiger does not become vegetarian because we feed it carrots.

In the longer run, however, the most effective means of combating extremism is the opening of a proper political space that is subject to clear rules accepted by a majority of citizens. In such a space it would be possible for people to hold opposed views on political matters without waving the finger of anathema (takfir) at one another.

Extremism has always been based on a theology of fear. It uses the fear of hell and damnation to impose its exclusive reading of the text. But the truth is that it is frightened by its own doubts. We would not think of murdering a man who might deny that the Sun will rise again tomorrow.

This is because we have no doubt that it will and that the man's error would become apparent. We might be tempted into killing, and dying, only when we are not quite sure of the truth of what we are killing and dying for.

Politics is the domain of doubt, of changing of mind, and of making and correcting mistakes only to make more mistakes later. It has its own grammar. To apply that grammar to religion harms both.

Finally, the theologians would remember that extremism is not something that strikes out of the blue. It is the product of societies in which religion is used as a means of controlling, obscuring, or even excluding other aspects of human existence, specially culture and politics.

Societies that mistake monism for monotheism will always breed extremism.

Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of 10 books on the Middle East and Islam. He's reachable through E-mail:
26 posted on 12/10/2003 3:13:34 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: F14 Pilot
27 posted on 12/10/2003 3:23:50 PM PST by windchime
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Extremists Ridicule Nobel Peace Prize Winner

December 10, 2003
The Jerusalem Post
Joseph Nasr

Iranian extremist factions warned authorities in Tehran of the "provocations" that Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, can generate, reported the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat on Wednesday.

The Iranian Islamic militia, al-Basidge, issued a statement condemning Ebadi, whom they labeled "Sharon Ebadi", for appearing without a 'hijab (Muslim headscarf), shaking hands with men, and campaigning in Iranian universities.

The statement described Ehabi's behavior as challenging and insulting to Islam's principles and values, reported al-Hayat.

On December 3rd members of al-Basidge, including religious female students, violently protested in al-Zahra' University in Tehran in order to prevent Ebadi from delivering a speech there.

Ms. Ebadi, who delivered an acceptance speech in Oslo on Wednesday, was caricatured in the conservative Kihan newspaper as "Sharon Ebadi" – referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Ebadi said she hoped her award would bring faith to other activists in Islamic countries who are striving for freedom and human rights.

Reformist activists in Iran openly criticized the campaign that Ebadi was subjected to. In a commentary published in the Tehran-based "Yas-Ai-Nou", MP Ihali Koulay wondered, "Why is Ebadi being attacked at home and abroad?" MP Koulay is a leading reformer who strongly supported the reforms introduced recently by President Muhammad Khatami in Iran.
28 posted on 12/10/2003 4:57:13 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian, North Korean Nuclear Crises Remain Open Issues

December 10, 2003
Radio Free Europe
Charles Recknagel

Prague -- In 2003, the nuclear crises in Iran and North Korea independently tested the world's ability to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Iranian nuclear crisis was most in the news -- thanks largely to a year-long showdown between Tehran and the UN's nuclear inspections agency. The dispute saw the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demand that Tehran answer numerous questions about its nuclear activities and give inspectors unfettered access to nuclear sites. Both demands were in response to U.S.-led pressure to ensure Iran was not pursuing programs that could lead to the development of a nuclear bomb.

By year's end, Iran dropped its initial reluctance to cooperate and met both demands. In return, the IAEA adopted a resolution that praised Iran's "offer of active cooperation and openness" in the future. At the same time, however, it "strongly" deplored Iran's past secret pursuit of nuclear activities and implicitly threatened to refer any "further serious failures" to the UN Security Council.

IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei called the resolution a victory for nonproliferation:

"I am very pleased with today's resolution. It clearly strengthens my hand in fulfilling our tasks in ensuring that Iran's program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. It again, as I mentioned, strengthens the case of nonproliferation by deploring the breaches, by setting out a marker for what needs to be done in the future," El-Baradei said.

But analysts say the resolution leaves several matters unaddressed, meaning the Iranian nuclear weapons issue will almost certainly be back in the news in the coming year. The most important of these issues is Iran's refusal so far to do more than suspend for an "interim" period its previously secret uranium enrichment activities. Iran's efforts to master the uranium enrichment process worry nonproliferation experts because the technology can equally be applied to producing commercial reactor fuel or creating fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Gary Samore of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London calls Iran's interim suspension an open question that concerned states will have to address: "It seems to me the more significant open question is whether or not Iran proceeds with its [uranium] enrichment and reprocessing facility, or whether an agreement can be negotiated under which Iran agrees to permanently suspend or abandon those enrichment and reprocessing capabilities."

Iran says it needs a uranium enrichment capability in order to produce its own fuel as it plans to build up to six commercial reactors to generate electricity. A first reactor is currently under construction with Moscow's assistance near the Gulf port of Bushehr but will operate with Russian-supplied fuel.

Samore says Britain, Germany, and France -- which successfully pressed Iran to cooperate with the IAEA this year -- are now also trying to convince Tehran to permanently give up its uranium enrichment efforts in an offer that could spark prolonged negotiations in the coming months. The three European states have said that if Tehran abandons its uranium enrichment program, they could help guarantee Tehran access to Western nuclear power technology. Tehran has yet to respond to that offer.

As Iran's nuclear crisis grabbed headlines throughout the year, so, too, did the nuclear weapons threat from North Korea, although to a lesser extent.

Pyongyang began 2003 by making formal its expulsion just weeks earlier of all international nuclear inspectors from the country. The North Korean government -- already the most politically isolated in the world -- said it was withdrawing from the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that provides for IAEA monitors to keep track of nuclear facilities and detect their misuse for weapons programs.

The reaction of Washington and many other countries was one of anger and dismay. Ari Fleischer, the spokesman at the time for U.S. President George W. Bush, said Pyongyang was deliberately provoking the international community.

"I think it is fair to say that North Korea has decided that it wants to stick its finger in the eye of the world. This [withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty] is not an action North Korea has taken vis-a-vis the United States. This is an action North Korea has taken vis-a-vis the world. The world stands united. North Korea stands isolated," Fleischer said.

The North Korean action caused alarm because it came shortly after the U.S. discovered Pyongyang was secretly pursuing a uranium enrichment program for bomb-making. Then, further heightening tensions, Pyongyang announced it was restarting a nuclear reactor previously suspected of being misused to produce plutonium, another route to building a nuclear bomb. That reactor had been closed since a 1994 agreement in which the U.S. and other states agreed to provide North Korea with alternate sources of energy.

The U.S. has long tried to solve the North Korean crisis by exerting regional pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. Those efforts saw the launch this year of so-called Six-Party talks between the two Koreas, the U.S., Russia, China and Japan. But the talks have so far failed to make progress, largely because China -- North Korea's main trading partner -- remains reluctant to threaten Pyongyang with economic sanctions if it does not cooperate.

Still, analysts predict the Six-Party talks will continue in the coming months to represent the main hope for resolving the crisis. Many say it remains unclear whether North Korea -- whose economy is on the verge of collapse -- is seeking nuclear weapons for security reasons or mostly as a bargaining chip to be traded away for greater international security guarantees and financial assistance.

Samore says he expects a continued stalemate in negotiations in 2004: "The Six-Party talks are likely to continue next year because the alternative to talks are not in anybody's interest. For tactical and strategic reasons, I don't think any of the parties want to see a breakdown in the negotiations, which is very likely to lead to greater tensions on the Korean peninsula. So, I would expect that the diplomacy would continue, but I doubt that we will see either a breakdown or a breakthrough next year."

For now, Washington appears to have ruled out military solutions, such as bombing North Korean nuclear facilities, because that could lead to war on the Korean peninsula. But the crisis remains a top international concern.

Pyongyang -- which the U.S. says has previously produced enough plutonium for at least one, possibly two, nuclear weapons -- is widely suspected of using the current stalemate to make further progress in producing fissile material.

And that means that the U.S. and other nations are keenly aware that, unless Pyongyang is stopped, it will only grow more dangerous with time.
29 posted on 12/10/2003 4:58:03 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Media and Information: The Case of Iran

December 10, 2003
New School for Social Research
Geneive Abdo

The election of Mohammad Khatami as president of Iran in May 1997 launched what many of his supporters hoped would be the most ambitious attempt in the Islamic world to bridge the divide between the public and private spheres.

In the years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the conservative clerical establishment had systematically eliminated almost all traces of the democratic pluralist currents that had helped feed the original rebellion against the U.S.-backed shah. What is more, they fortified Iran's traditional political despotism with an equally despotic reading of the Shiite Muslim faith, forcing dissent, debate, and differences of opinion to take refuge behind closed doors. Now the progressive movement that first began to take shape in the early 1990s and which later chose Khatami as its leader aimed to break the conservative clerical establishment's monopoly on public discourse.

The slogans and themes that emerged from the Khatami election campaign-and came to dominate his presidency-reflected many years of discreet discussion in reading circles, on the boards of small specialty journals, and in the halls of the religious seminaries. Their debut on the public stage, in the run-up to the election, was the opening shot in a struggle to reshape society and the state. At first, they decided to run only as a way of introducing their ideas to the public at large. Among their most prominent slogans were promises to introduce the "rule of law," to foster "tolerance" for competing ideas and to create a true "civil society" within the Islamic system.

These goals were extremely ambitious considering Iran's history of some 2,500 years of autocratic rule. Whether it was clerics in charge of the state, or the elites under the Pahlavi dynasty and its predecessors, public opinion had no role to play in influencing state affairs. Different elements of society did indeed create an otherwise unlikely alliance around Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to bring about the 1979 revolution. But this coalition of nationalists, liberal Islamists, secularists, and leftists was soon sidelined as the clerics began to rule the state.

The Khatami experiment was designed to address the imbalance between two competing visions of Islamic Iran that emerged in aftermath of the revolution. Was it an Islamic state ruled by the clerics, or a religious republic ruled by the people? In other words, the 1997 election was a resounding vote for enlarging the public sphere at the expense of what had become the private preserve of the ruling conservative clergy. Even in mundane ways, society expressed its desire to come out of hiding. Young men and women began socializing together in restaurants, cafes and parks- which was illegal. Rather than the chador, women began to opt for a more modern form of veiling-a long overcoat and headscarf-and the headscarves began slipping farther and farther from the forehead, revealing more and more hair. But despite society's readiness to embrace a reform movement, the Khatami effort to establish republican rule was short-lived.

Among the many myths about Iran in the United States is the notion that the level of public discourse that occurs-generally criticism of the Islamic state-could never be achieved in an Arab country. The lively debate in Iran, often on display in the press, gives the misleading impression that the potential for a free society is far greater than in most Arab societies. For example, there have always been opposition voices to varying degrees in the Iranian press since the revolution. And there were never official state newspapers such as Soviet Russia's Pravda. But the roots of ultimate clerical control over the press date back to the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911, when the senior clergy secured for itself final say over freedom of expression in the name of religion. In fact, public discourse in Iran today has vast limitations and in no way compares to the kind of discussion we now see on al-Jazeera television and on other independent Arab networks and web sites.

One reason is that it is easy to circumvent state censorship through satellite channels and the Internet in the Arab world. These types of news channels do not exist in Iran. But the main reason for this difference is that Islam in Iran is used to stifle free expression. By contrast, no Arab government would invoke religious reasoning for censorship. In Egypt, for example, it is a crime to insult President Hosni Mubarak or his family in the press, and journalists have been jailed for doing so. But whether Islamic principles are trampled upon is a far more ambiguous charge to make and is used as a weapon only among the Islamists themselves-not by the secular state.

So why did the experiment carried out by Iran's reform movement-one that would expand public discourse-fail to bridge the gap between the private and public spheres? The earliest and most enthusiastic supporters of the Khatami movement were largely drawn from the ranks of revolutionary propagandists, journalists, and other intellectuals. Khatami himself was a former newspaper publisher who had been recalled from Hamburg, Germany, by Ayatollah Khomeini to run the large Kayhan publishing house that was nationalized by the revolution. Many of these activists came to realize that loosening the restrictions on the media was an effective means of stimulating public discourse-not to mobilize support for state policy but as an end unto itself. For the first time in Iranian history, they argued, there would be no predetermined outcome; society itself should be left to its own devices. In what later proved to be a fatal miscalculation, the reformists ignored virtually all other building blocks of their proposed civil society, such as the creation of true political parties or the building up of grassroots networks. Instead, they relied almost exclusively on this "media strategy" to challenge authoritarian rule. This was their critical mistake because the levers of power controlled by the clerics could easily shut down the newspapers - -and this is precisely what happened.

But not before the reformist press enjoyed some very real successes. The first real free newspaper, Jameah, began publishing in 1998. The founders of Jameah were intellectuals who were involved for many years in a Tehran discussion group that was in large part the basis for Khatami's future rise to power. It is worth noting that some of these same intellectuals had originally favored creation of a political party or front, to be called, appropriately enough, the Coalition of Religious Intellectuals. But legal and political obstacles put up by jealous and fearful state functionaries barred the way, and so they devoted their energies to founding a mass-circulation newspaper.

Jameah was created to change all that: it would appeal to the millions who had elected Khatami as a first step toward a civil society. It would bring out what appeared to be a strong public calling for change by introducing the power of public opinion onto the political stage. The first edition of Jameah made this clear: "Greetings to Society" read the banner headline. The second edition went further, proclaiming directly: "We hope, God willing, we will perform our duties in order to create a civil society in Iran. This model (for civil society) for the first time has been transformed from the limited circle of Iran's intelligentsia into a national issue by the reform movement."

The other aim of Jameah was to take charge of public discourse and unleash public discussion from clerical control. Instead of publishing the supreme leader's latest utterances on the front page- the way the other newspapers did-Jameah played the stories according to the editors' own sense of news value. The leader's comments, in fact, were often pushed to the inside pages. On the front page were photographs of beautiful women-definitely the kind of "news" that readers preferred. Others featured scenes of real life: restless youth huddled in city parks, lonely nomads with their flocks, even a woman violinist. According to Mohsen Sazegara, one of Jameah's three founders and a former student aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, the newspaper sought to recapture some of the joy and beauty of life that had been lost to years of revolution and the war with Iraq. Jameah set out to win the hearts and minds of the Iran's enormous youth population, a segment too young to remember the revolution or share many of its initial goals. It sought to launch what Sazegara calls a "renaissance by happiness."

On February 5, 1998, Jameah exploded onto the Iranian scene. Within just a few weeks the newspaper hit its break-even point of 100,000 in daily sales-a considerable figure in a country with little tradition of newspaper readership. By March 20, the end of the Iranian solar year, circulation reached 140,000, and it soon went as high as 300,000 copies per day. Jameah opened up a hidden world to a reading public thirsting for something more than official pronouncements, clerical sermons, and scripted rallies in support of the establishment's domestic and foreign policies. It broke taboos and challenged the notion of the so-called red lines, the vague no-go areas comprising the fundamental political, religious, and social spheres of the hard-line clerics who dominated the system. "One can criticize the decisions of an Islamic government" and still remain a good Muslim, a lengthy interview with a leading intellectual cleric assured readers. Jameah launched regular coverage of foreign films, including Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown-officially banned in Iran but widely available on the ubiquitous black market.

For the first time, readers could find the latest news of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a prominent theologian who was barred from publicizing his views and from teaching his popular seminary classes. On April 29, Jameah shocked the nation when it quoted the head of the Revolutionary Guards as telling his troops the "necks and tongues" of political opponents should be severed and that the scores of new publications unleashed by the Khatami administration threatened Iran's national security. Previously, such addresses to the elite guardsmen would have gone unnoted and unreported to the public at large, which could only guess how deeply polarized Iran's ruling institutions had become.

The rise of such a potent independent voice alarmed the clerical establishment, which was accustomed to dictating the public debate. And it did not take long for the ruling clerics to exercise their power to reclaim public discourse. First, Jameah was banned. Then, the same editors created a second newspaper under a different name- Tous. In Iran at that time, it was possible to borrow or to buy a newspaper license from another publication to start publishing again. But a harsher response came from the establishment. "In the name of freedom, newspapers and magazines of today are committing all sorts of wrongs," proclaimed Mohammad Yazdi, then the head of the judiciary. "This is an Islamic country. I expect the minister to act before someone has to step in and act on his behalf." The next day, the Tehran justice department closed Tous, citing violations in the press law. Some of the editors were hauled off to prison but later released.

In all, it took the conservatives about 18 months after the shock of Khatami's election to realize that they could stop the rapid rise of the reform movement simply by shutting down several dozen leading independent newspapers and hauling their editors and publishers before the courts. The newspapers had become so popular that government surveys in 1999 found that 86.2 percent of respondents in Tehran followed the newspapers, with more than half the group describing themselves as daily readers. More than one- third read at least two newspapers a day, and more than one-fifth read three or more. The average reader devoted 38.2 minutes a day to the daily press. Readers told researchers they were looking for truthful and comprehensive content-qualities they had never found in the domestic press.

Inspired by the positive response from the public for Jameah, Tous, and others, independent newspapers and journals mushroomed. Encouraged by the Khatami government, which was determined not to overlook the more remote provinces, the newspapers were able to link readers in the countryside with those in the city, expanding the public sphere in an unprecedented fashion. Generally, Iranians living outside urban centers had few clues of the politics and the turmoil sweeping the state; but now, the visitor to the provinces found local readers avidly debating many of the same issues and personalities that dominated budding public life in the capital Tehran.

Soon, the newspapers were revealing the dark secrets of the regime. The biggest scandal the newspapers unveiled was the grisly murders of secular intellectuals, presumably carried out by hard-line agents in the Intelligence Ministry. It had all the elements of a spy thriller, including rumors that clerics had given secret religious sanction to the murders. One of the architects of the murders, who was believed to be ready to tell all, was reported to have committed suicide in prison by swallowing hair removal cream. Few believed the story.

Editorials each day demanded the resignations of high-ranking officials in the Intelligence Ministry, one of the most feared institutions in the country. Finally, the newspapers put so much pressure on the state that the intelligence service had to admit that rogue agents within its own ranks were responsible for the murders. This gave President Khatami the green light to launch a private investigation into the ministry -an act that exceeded his limited formal powers as chief executive. Emboldened, the press even forced the resignation of the hard-line cleric who headed the ministry.

The newspapers achieved their greatest success in February 2000, when candidates endorsed by the reformist press won a majority of the 30 seats from Tehran in the Iranian parliament. The newspaper list, as the slate was called, swept to victory, proving that in a short time the clerical establishment had lost control of public opinion.

The election results were too much for the establishment to bear. In April 2000, a few weeks after the parliamentary election, supreme leader Khamanei announced that the reformist newspapers had become what he called "bases of the enemy." He said he was not against a free press, but warned that some newspapers had created mistrust between the people and the system. Three days later, the judiciary answered the leader's call and closed 14 of what would in the end be a total of some 50 reformist newspapers and journals eventually banned. The parliament, now dominated by reformers, tried to save the press movement by attempting in August of that year to liberalize the press law and to roll back new restrictions imposed by the outgoing legislature controlled by conservatives. But Ayatollah Khamenei, as the supreme leader, took an unprecedented step and killed the bill, saying it was religiously illegitimate and had to be stopped. Even though the bill would never have received approval from the Guardian Council, a body of conservative clerics who scrutinize all legislation, the leader wanted to put his personal mark on ending the press movement. Khamenei's intervention revealed the fundamental weakness of the Iranian press and its inability to serve as the basis of a new, civil society within the Islamic system. Nonetheless, the press movement should be credited with a lasting expansion of public debate that has become more apparent over time.

The newspapers made public what was private by pushing back and even crossing the unstated but widely understood "red lines" the clerics had imposed on public discourse. Evidence of this extension of public debate was visible among university students. The newspapers mobilized students who had been silent in their criticism of the regime or who followed the mainstream reform movement's credo that activism should stay within the confines of the red lines. But once criticism of the regime entered the public realm, students began protesting and expressing their complaints with the state. When one progressive newspaper, Salam, was ordered closed in July 1999, students staged the bloodiest protests since the aftermath of the Islamic revolution. They took to the streets for six days in Tehran and across the country, calling out for freedom of expression. The state deployed its security forces, including the Islamic basij militia and shadowy security thugs to stop the protests. But by expanding the public debate, radical students within the mainstream university movement that supported Khatami's agenda for gradual reform went their separate way and formed a more radical faction within the student movement.

The student protests that occurred in Iran in November 2002 were, in fact, evidence that public debate has been expanded in Iran for the long term. Even though predictions that the protests would lead to a final clash between the reformers and conservatives turned out to be wishful thinking on the part of some, the student demonstrations no doubt proved that the long, slow process toward a civil society has taken root. And more important, the students demonstrating this time made clear that they had lost faith in Khatami's ability to fundamentally change the system. They also broke taboos by openly expressing their dislike for the supreme leader. These sentiments went beyond the demonstrations in 1999 and showed that the public debate has widened.

Another profound and even more important legacy of the press movement was its effect on the clergy. The newspapers brought issues rooted in theology out of the seminaries and into the public sphere-issues that have remained part of public debate even after the closure of many of the leading newspapers. The case brought against Mohsen Kadivar, the theologian who gave the opening address to the New School conference at which this paper was delivered, is a good example. Hojjatoleslam Kadivar wrote a series of essay in a reform newspaper called Khordad in which he declared that the conservative clerics running the state employed the same authoritarian tactics as the deposed shah. Specifically, Kadivar challenged the absolute powers of the supreme leader to prevail over decisions made by the clergy and all branches of the state. These powers, set in motion by Khomeini, were expanded by Ayatollah Khamenei once Khomeini died. Kadivar argued that absolute obedience to the supreme leader was in contradiction to the entire history of Shiite theology, which had relied upon learned theologians, called marja, or sources of emulation, to make religious decrees by consensus. Although this general topic-that the ruling clerical system had distorted the true nature of Shiiite theology-was discussed within the confines of the seminary, it was not part of the public critique of the system. The issue is at the essence of the Islamic republic and is considered absolutely taboo. After Kadivar's essays were published, he was charged before a clerical court with violating Islamic principles and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

A public discussion of how Khameini's interpretation of the role of the supreme leader violated Shiiite tradition was expanded further by a cleric named Abdollah Nouri. Nouri was the editor of Khordad and used the newspaper to expand public discussion about religion. When Nouri was charged before the clerical court for violating religious principles, he used the courtroom to put the regime on trial. He charged the supreme leader with violating the spirit of the Islamic revolution by putting himself above the people, the state, and the clerical establishment. Nouri was sentenced to five years in prison but was given an early release.

Iran has historically been a country where what takes place in private is very different from what occurs in public. It is not a coincidence that Iranian houses, especially in major cities, are hidden behind high walls. Inside the walls are often massive gardens. And family and social life is often a great departure from the traditional and repressive behavior on display in the streets. The clerical establishment has fought to ensure that life in private never becomes public.

One way the regime tries to contain what becomes public is through its rhetoric and imagery, based on ideology. To express any opinion outside official state ideology is condemned as un-Islamic. Today in Iran, diverse newspapers are still publishing, representing different points of view. But none is as radical as those that were shut down in the late 1990s. More than two decades after the Islamic revolution, Iran is at a stalemate: the flow of information is stymied by state censors, and severe restrictions have been placed on information entering the country. The most blatant attempts by the clerical establishment to limit what is in the public sphere are the routine closings of Internet cafes and the periodic crackdowns on satellite dishes, which are officially banned. The clerics know all too well that opening Iran up to the information age could destabilize the regime. Thus, in the case of Iran, making public what has traditionally been private is not a matter of moving toward modernity but a threat to the regime's very existence.

New School for Social Research, Graduate Faculty Fall 2003

Geneive Abdo Social Research (New York) Fall 2003. Vol. 70, Iss. 3; pg. 877
30 posted on 12/10/2003 5:18:48 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Osama bin Laden is rumored to be in Iran.

Iran denies having any al Qaeda or any nuclear weapons program.

Neither denial is adequate.

Overthrow the regime and let the students rule.

31 posted on 12/10/2003 6:23:52 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn
In Iran today, there are fifty million young people who, due to the Islamic republic, who do not have a future in front of them.

Diplomacy is finished. Regime change is a must.

Put Iran into the students' hands.

Yet Mark Steyn indicates our State Department is still asking Syria's Assad nicely--

No more nicely--these are terrorists all--and ours is a War on Terrorism.

32 posted on 12/10/2003 6:43:10 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn
Let the people of the world know what our founders declared, that all men are created equal, are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What is the first liberty? Is it not thought and thought's expression?

How can governments regulate what God has given?

Note that no Christian God is stipulated in America's founding documents, Declaration of Independence or Constitution with its Bill of Rights.

Governments are NOT instituted among men for the suppression of their rights, but the protection of those rights.

The United Nations is the foremost engine of repression, friend to tyrants, enemy of the free.

Up the Empire, and all its winged monkeys, from Kofi "Oil for Food" Annan to the Libyan "commissioner of human rights".

33 posted on 12/10/2003 6:59:09 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
A Troubling Influence: A Must Read (Islamist influence on the US military and political arenas) ^ | December 9, 2003 | Frank J Gaffney Jr.
Posted on 12/10/2003 7:20:53 PM PST by DoctorZIn

Plus a discussion of this article on Hugh Hewitt's broadcast:

34 posted on 12/10/2003 7:25:07 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

35 posted on 12/11/2003 12:08:31 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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