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Iranian Alert -- December 24, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 12.24.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/24/2003 12:01:12 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.

DoctorZin


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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”

1 posted on 12/24/2003 12:01:12 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
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”

2 posted on 12/24/2003 12:03:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranians take cue from West

Christian Science Monitor - By Michael Theodoulou
Dec 24, 2003

A new era of pool halls, paintball, and pet dogs is dawning on politically repressed Iran.

The click of balls on a pool table is being heard again in Iran nearly a quarter of a century after the ayatollahs outlawed the game because of its associations with gambling. It is a triumphant sound.

Some 2,800 pool halls have opened in Iran, with 400 of them in Tehran alone, since the ban on pool, snooker, and billiards was lifted two years ago.

The reestablished pastime is just one sign that Iran's old guard is grudgingly giving ground on the social front while it continues to slam the brakes on political reform.

By allowing pool, "they want to show Europe and the West there are freedoms here," says Hamid Amini, the owner of the plush Afra Pool Club.

Other American fads are also taking hold in the Islamic Republic. Paintball is big here, and Rollerblading is taken to extreme measures by some youths who defy the law and common sense by clinging to the back of cars that hurtle down Tehran's thronged expressways.

Even though dogs are considered unclean in Islamic law, keeping pet canines is on the rise, especially among rich Iranians in Westernized north Tehran.

And women's dress code remains a handy, if rudimentary, barometer of social change. The head scarf, while still mandatory in public, is worn in brighter colors than ever, and some women sport a baseball cap underneath.

Mohammad Khatami, the reformist president, has said that young people need "legitimate" pleasures. "We cannot ask them to go only to the mosque."

Controls on pool halls were eased, say officials, as a safety valve to relieve boredom and disaffection in a country where more than half the population of 62 million are less than 20 years old, and unemployment stands at 16 percent.

Yet some restrictions remain. Women cannot join most pool clubs or play at the same time as men: The posture adopted by a woman over the table is apparently considered sexually suggestive.

Nor can the 40,000 theology students in Qom, Iran's center of clerical learning, take up a pool cue. Clerics in the city this summer insisted the ban must remain there to prevent gambling.

Still, the boundaries are being pushed back, as Western influence creeps forward. At the cluster of cozy cafes in a mall on Gandhi street, a popular meeting place for north Tehran's upmarket bohemians, Audrey Hepburn look-alikes wear well- tailored, knee-length tunics in cheerful colors that hug figures that are supposed to be covered by shapeless gowns.

"The government is too busy with other issues to worry about the dress code," explains Mohsen, an engineer who studied in the US. He noted the similarities between Iran's and America's social climates. "Look around. The atmosphere is very relaxed."

The conservative pragmatists, who are expected to win control of parliament from the reformists in elections next year, are unlikely to try to jerk back the hands of the social clock. Street harassment by volunteer Islamic vigilantes who monitor and enforce public modesty is declining, although periodic crackdowns ensure a climate of uncertainty.

Certain types of "decadent" Western behavior are more frowned on than others. Walking a dog seems to rile the guardians of public morality more than women wearing a dash of makeup.

Police occasionally fine pet owners and confiscate the animals. Somaya, owner of a poodle-terrier named Fifi, has been particularly cautious since a hard-line cleric singled out short-legged dogs last year.

"We never walk Fifi in the daytime," Somaya says, as she strokes her recently groomed dog. "But we do take her out into the countryside in the car and let her have a run around in places where other people won't see her. It's not easy having a pet dog in the Islamic Republic."

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1224/p07s01-wome.html
3 posted on 12/24/2003 12:08:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's conflicting views on Saddam

Asia Times - By Safa Haeri
Dec 24, 2003

PARIS - Ever since the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by US forces aided by Iraqi Kurdish peshmergas, top Iranian officials on both sides of the leadership have made discordant, if not contradictory, statements about his trial, his sentence and the issue of Iran-Iraq War reparations, estimated by Tehran at billions of US dollars.

For several days after Saddam's capture on December 13, there was stunned silence from Iran's clerical rulers, high-ranking military commanders and advisers. Saddam Hussein had launched a devastating eight-year war from 1980-88, a conflict that cost Iran half a million dead and wounded. Many of the casualties were injured for life because of the massive use of chemical weapons by Iraqi troops.

Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian president, was the first to make a statement, surprising his audience by opposing capital punishment for Saddam.

"Saddam made many people suffer, mostly the Iraqis, but also the Iranians," Khatami said. "Though I think if there is one place in the world where he should be executed, this is Iraq. However, for my part, I never wish that a man, even accused of crimes, be executed if there are other ways for him," he said. At almost the same time he spoke, four people were hanged in various places in Iran, accused of drug smuggling and other charges.

Next to communist China, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the world's highest number of public executions. Khatami said nothing about the thousands of young Iranians killed or disabled, nor about the thousands of Iraqi Kurds gassed in the city of Halabja near Iranian border, nor about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Shi'ite Muslims slaughtered. He made no mention of the vast southern marshes on the Iranian border, traditional home of the Marsh Arabs, turned into deserts in one of the greatest environmental crimes on record.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi called for Saddam to be tried by an international court, while Ayatollah Mahmood Hashemi-Shahroodi, the Iraqi-born head of the judiciary, said the dictator must be tried in Iran. For his part, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of Iranian's theocratic regime, while expressing satisfaction at Saddam's capture, wished for US President George W Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to "face the same fate" as the former Iraqi dictator.

Where were the rejoicing Iraqis?
Why do some Iranian leaders appear to regret Saddam's arrest? Why do they hesitate to acknowledge that a page has definitely been turned in Iraq? Why did the state-run Voice and Visage (Radio Television) of the Islamic Republic, controlled directly by Ayatollah Khamenei, show pictures of a bearded, dirty and unkempt Saddam, looking haggard as he was taken out of his "rat hole"? Why did it comment: "Saddam Hussein was captured by his former backers," meaning the Americans? Why did the state-run media not show the scenes of jubilation by the Iraqi people?

Some Iranian scholars trace the reasons back to the early days of the Iran-Iraq War and to the ousted Abolhasan Banisadr, the Islamic Republic's first president. According to Sadeq Ziba Kalam, a political-science professor at Tehran University, Banisadr indoctrinated the new and inexperienced ruling mullahs with the idea that "Saddam is a pawn of the United States and attacked Iran on the instigations of his American masters".

"It took the Iranian officials more than a decade, to the start of the first Persian Gulf War [1990], to realize that Saddam might, after all, not be an American puppet. Yet instead of making a proper assessment of Saddam Hussein and his personality, politics and ambitions, the Iranian rulers rushed to new, but wrong, conclusions, foreseeing a possible destiny for the two Iranian and Iraqi peoples," Ziba Kalam said.

In fact, a number of influential figures of the time - clerics, civilians and some officers of the Revolutionary Guard - had urged senior decision-makers to side openly with Saddam against the international coalition led by US president George H W Bush, but it was the pragmatic Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who persuaded the leadership not to side with the Iraqi leader.

Nevertheless, relations between Tehran and Baghdad improved after first Gulf War. Trade flourished, mostly smuggling cheap Iraqi oil through Iranian ports controlled by the Revolutionary Guards to the international markets and exporting Iranian goods to the hungry and deprived Iraqis suffering from international economic sanctions.

As US and British pressures increased prior to their final assault on Iraq last spring, the Islamic Republic once again leaned toward its "eternal enemy No 1" - Saddam. Messages of "solidarity" were sent to the Iraqi leader, who dispatched his son Qusay to meet senior Iranian military officers near the Iraq border. They discussed possible military assistance from Tehran in case the United States attacked, and Saddam twice sent his minister of foreign affairs, Naji Sabri, to Tehran, seeking Iran's diplomatic help in international organizations.

Iran's puzzling 'positive neutrality'
Iran adopted what it called "positive neutrality" in the US-led war against Iraq.

As the war started, Iranian conservative-controlled media, particularly Voice and Visage, predicted a victory for Saddam. Military experts from the clerics' elite praetorian guard would explain to incredulous viewers and listeners that Iraq was to become another Vietnam and Baghdad another Stalingrad, expressing no doubt that US and British forces would sink in the Iraq quagmire.

But the evaporation of any significant resistance from Iraqi forces, especially from the vaunted Republican Guards and Saddam's notorious fedayeen suicide squads, shattered the notion, cultivated by Iran, that Saddam was Washington's man.

"Short of explaining the quick fall of Baghdad, the Iranian authorities at the top created a new thesis based on the grounds that Saddam, at the last minute, made an arrangement with the advancing forces, opening up the gates of his capital and surrendering all his forces," political scientist Ziba Kalam said.

All the baseless theories and wishful thinking - of larger-than-life Saddam - put forth by the Iranian leadership and the military crumbled when television viewers saw the humiliating and effortless capture of the docile Iraqi tyrant, who did not put up a struggle or even try to take his own life.

Another reason for these discordant views, in which reality fails to conform to political mythology, is the absence of any central decision-making unit in the Islamic Republic. Duplication and redundancy prevail in both the government and the army. Often the decisions made by the leader's shadow cabinet, which is the real one, are not communicated to the president's ministers for implementation, political analysts say.

This is seen in Iran's declarations of old Iran-Iraq War damages and demands for reparations, estimated by Tehran in the billions of dollars. This comes at a time when virtually all of Iraq's major creditors, such as France, Germany and Russia, have agreed to reduce Iraq's debts dramatically in order to win new reconstruction contracts. And despite a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for reparations, Saddam never agreed to pay the Iranians.

Contradictory statements on reparations
Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and a member of Iraq's US-installed provisional government, told a newspaper recently: "Iran didn't ask for one cent of us. On the contrary, they provided huge assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq. They offered a lot of help for reconstruction and to reoperate the factories, build cities and towns, many issues. They did not discuss with us, in any of our meetings, or in any of the ministries, the subject of the reparations." He was interviewed by the Farsi-language weekly newspaper Kayhan in London.

And the present head of Iraq's governing council, Hojjatoleslam Abdolaziz al-Hakim, said Iran "deserved" reparations arising out of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, but left open whether payment would be forthcoming.

According to Qasem Sho'leh Sa'di, a lawyer and scholar, the recent declarations by Iranian officials concerning the trial of Saddam or the payment of war damages are "for domestic consumption only".

"Of course, in practice, it is possible to try Saddam in an independent international criminal court, like the one in The Hague, but considering the often-contradictory positions taken by Iranian leaders concerning the Iraqi dictator, one has to admit that their purposes of today are nothing more than to dupe the public opinion," he told Asia Times Online.

A co-founder with Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara of a new political party named tentatively "Iranians for Democracy", Sho'leh Sa'di spent 40 days behind bars and was severely tortured for having criticized the domestic and international policies of the leader, whom he dared to address with the diminished honorific "Hojjatoleslam" Ali Khamenei, instead of the ritual title "Ayatollah".

"There was the time they [Iranian leaders] would describe Saddam as kaafar [a non-believer] who, if he washes his hands in the sea, the waters would become impure. Then the tyrant became 'brother Saddam' after a flurry of friendly exchanges with the then-president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. When the war started, Iran vehemently sided against the Americans, did its best to save Saddam and his bloody regime, creating difficulties for the coalition forces, predicting the defeat of the Americans in their so-called analysis of the war situation," he added.

"Have they forgot how, on their Radio and Television, they would boast of Saddam's capacity for resistance? Have they forgot how they would predict the defeat of the United States in the Iraqi quagmire? And after the Iraqi forces melted as snow under a hot sun and now that the new Saladin of the Arabs has been captured like a mouse in his hole, they continue persisting that all their assessments came true," Sho'leh Sa'di pointed out.

Asked to comment on declarations by Rafsanjani that "Saddam's humiliating end awaits all leaders who do not heed the voice of their people", or by Ayatollah Hashemi-Shahroodi that "God's law punishes all those who oppress their people in this world", Sho'leh Sa'di said briefly that if they have made such statements, "then they should expect a similar end".

http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_4171.shtml
4 posted on 12/24/2003 12:10:28 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Zoroastrians Fight Extinction

December 23, 2003
VOA News
Zlatica Hoke

The opening bars of Richard Strauss’ composition “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” became famous as the theme for Stanle Kubrick’s 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But apart from academics and some 300-thosuand believers, few people know much about ancient Iranian prophet Zarathustra and his teaching.

“Yet only one thousand years ago, millions, millions espoused Zarathustra’s monotheistic percepts in nations which stretched from (the ancient Chinese city of) Sian (western China) to the Eastern China across central Asia, northern India, Iran, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia up Greece in the west and Arabia, north Africa and Ethiopia in the south,” says Adi Davar, a board member of the World Zoroastrian Organization. Mr. Davar spoke at a recent seminar on Zoroastrian religion at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Zoroastrianism is based on the revelations of the Persian prophet Zarathustra, or Zoroaster in Greek. He taught that the world and everything in it was created by a Wise Lord, or Ahura Mazda. Before Zarathustra, Persians believed in multiple deities, as did most nomadic tribes at the time.

Stanley Isler, chairman of Iranian studies at Yale University, says Zarathustra was very impressed with nature and its ability for cyclical renewal. He believed repetition was the basis of knowledge, and people could learn everything from nature.

“Surely, only a being of great power and wisdom was capable of fashioning the element of the cosmos and equally capable of creating the principle of truth that maintain their eternal design and rhythms,” cites Professor Isler.

Creator Ahura Mazda is symbolized by light and fire, nature’s sources of life and energy. That is why Zoroastrians usually pray before a source of light, and an urn containing fire is a prominent feature of their place of worship. The good and wise lord Ahura Mazda is opposed by dark forces of evil. Zoroastrians believe truth is the source of all good and must be pursued in order to fight deceit, the source of evil. Since humans are created by a wise lord, they have an innate ability to discern good from evil. Zarathustra preaches three basic virtues: good thoughts, good words and good deeds. He says: "Happiness unto him who gives happiness unto others.” Thus Zoroastrians value education and philanthropy. Lying, or deceit, represents a violation of basic Zoroastrian beliefs.

Cleanliness of the body as well as of the spirit is also very important. Dead and decaying bodies are considered extremely impure and so they must not contaminate water, air or earth, which are sources of life. Traditionally, Zoroastrians do not bury or burn dead bodies or throw them into water, but expose them to vultures. However, there is less emphasis on religious rites than there is on lifestyle choices.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment, often postponed for the sake of education. Inter-faith marriages and conversions have long been avoided, contributing to the decline in population. The conquest of Persia and spread of Islam, which started in the 7th century, dealt the first serious blow to Zoroastrians.

No one knows exactly when Zarathustra lived, but his origins are traditionally placed in the 6th century B.C. in the area of what is today north-eastern Iran. This would make him a contemporary of the Persians kings Cyrus or Darius. Many scholars think he lived earlier than that. Jehan Bagli, president of the North American Zoroastrian Council, says Zarathustra’s teachings were already widespread by that time.

“Nowhere in these records do we find the mention of prophet Zarathustra,” says Mr. Bagli. “If the prophet was born 569 BCE and lived, as we know from the tradition, a little over 77 years, he would be contemporary with Darius the Great. It is inconceivable that the founder of the first monotheistic faith, who lived during the same time as these renowned monarchs, whose religion was spread across their vast empire and who was a mentor of the father of Darius, be so trivially overlooked.” Mr Bagli adds: “These circumstances certainly invalidate the traditional date.”

Scholars say historic records of Zarathustra’s life may have been destroyed during two major invasions of Persia: one by Alexander the Great in 4th century B.C. and the other by Islamic tribes in the 7th century A.D. On both occasions fire temples and religious texts were burnt and many priests killed.

But there is evidence that the Avesta, the Zoroastrian equivalent of the Bible, contains Zarathustra’s original thoughts. Stanley Isler says the prophet’s hymns to God, or “gathas,” reveal much about his life and time: “He tells us that he was a priest and a master of sacred words, a manthran – someone who has power over the mantras, a word that’s familiar to many. Yet, Zarathustra goes on to say he was rejected from his tribe and his community and driven from his land, forcing him to wander far and wide under great hardship and despair until finally he was accepted by a noble prince named Vishtaspa, who became his patron and ally.”

Professor Isler notes the hymns also explain why the prophet’s own tribe exiled him. It was not only because he preached monotheism: “He bitterly complains that evil rulers attacked just and innocent people, that the rich robbed the poor, that judges produced false decisions in order to aid their benefactors. And Zarathustra goes on to say that fury and violence terrorized the peoples on all fronts and that everywhere deceit and deception seemed to hold the upper hand.”

The holy book also contains Zoroastrian prayers, rules of law and rituals. Until the 9th century AD, the Avesta was probably transmitted orally and modified along the way. Professor Isler says this makes it hard to discern truth from myth about the prophet. The 10th century persecution of Zoroastrians in Persia forced many either to convert or seek another place to live. A significant group settled in north-western India where they became known as Parsis, meaning Persians.

For a while, Parsis were growing in number and power. The city of Bombay became the center of Zoroastrianism, somewhat like Rome in the Catholic Church. But in the second half of the 20th century, the population of the Parsi-Zoroastrians fell by one third, from a peak of 114,000 in 1941 to 76,000 in 1991. In recent decades, Zoroastrians worldwide began forming local and international organizations and events to help fight their extinction. Adi Davar helped form one of these in 1980.

“The World Zoroastrian Organization is an international organization of the global community of some 300-thousand Zoroastrians,” says Mr. Davar and adds: “Some 40-thousand of them live in North America and about a thousand in this metropolitan area.”

Zoroastrian organizations prevailed upon UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to proclaim the year 2003 as the 3000th Anniversary of Zoroastrianism. More attention is paid to young people who may be able to pass on their religion and culture to following generations. The Third World Zoroastrian Youth Congress is to take place in Pune, India, from December 27 to December 31.

Conversion, once rejected by the Zoroastrian faith, is now believed to be legitimate and indeed necessary by some adherents, who also approve marriage with members of other faiths.

Scholars have acknowledged the contribution of this ancient Persian faith to the world’s religions. Zoroastrians say their prophet’s teachings are just as relevant today since deceit, violence and oppression are as prevalent as they were thousands of years ago.

http://www.voanews.com/Focus/article.cfm?objectID=ED685F4B-6DD4-4BA3-8232D296F24AB739&title=Zoroastrians%20Fight%20Extinction
5 posted on 12/24/2003 12:11:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Were the Magi who visited Jesus -- Persian?

Christian Farsinet ^ | 12/23/03 | Christian Farsinet
Posted on 12/23/2003 10:55:46 PM PST by freedom44

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1045904/posts
6 posted on 12/24/2003 12:12:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Khatami rejects secularism in Iran

Dec. 17 – President Mohammad Khatami rejected secularism in Iran, the students' news agency ISNA reported Wednesday. “Our revolution and our history has a religious identity and our people want democracy on the basis of religion,” Khatami told students in Tehran.

“Our geopolitical situation is different and therefore even universities should bear in mind that we cannot implement political tendencies from other countries,” the president said\, referring to the growing secular trend in Iran among students.

Students - and some liberal circles - have several times called on a referendum on amendment of the constitution in favour of democratically elected bodies and against appointed bodies which are controlled by the conservative clergy.

The clergy establishment considers this move as an effort to undermine the Islamic system and replace it with a secular one.

“The Islamic movement in Iran is different to what has been implemented in Afghanistan (by the former Taliban regime) under the name of Islam,” said Khatami whose main aim is to realise his vision of an Islamic democracy.

The president however warned that if people came to the conclusion that an Islamic system was not compatible to democracy, “then they would bypass that Islam”.

Khatami and the Iranian establishment is deeply concerned about the popular turnout in the February 20 parliamentary elections as if the people again boycotted the elections like they did in the municipality elections earlier this year, then the legitimacy of the system would be at risk. The students at least, who used the be the main force behind the president, several times manifested their frustration over the failure of Khatami’s reform efforts and, while asking for his resignation, warned with an election boycott.

Khatami himself has put the establishment under pressure by terming the February elections as the most important one in the 25 year history of the Islamic Republic with the turnout being more important than the probable winners./- http://www.iranwpd.com Note: Majority of Iranians regard Khatami as a fake, con-artist and a regiment of the hard-liners in Iran. according to a recent visitor to Iran i interviewed he's regarded as a puppet and widely condemned in Iran.
7 posted on 12/24/2003 12:15:34 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Bump!
8 posted on 12/24/2003 4:33:25 AM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn
US Advises Rogue States to "Get Smart"

December 24, 2003
AFP
Yahoo News

WASHINGTON -- The United States has urged North Korea, Syria and Iran to "get smart" and follow Libya's example in pledging to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs and join the rest of the world in productive cooperation.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tripoli's decision had put the United States and its allies "on a bit of a roll," and states still pursuing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons would be better off if they followed suit.

"We hope that the North Koreans are watching all of this, and realizing that others are getting smart, and it's time for them to get smart too," Powell said in an interview with syndicated radio talk show host Michael Reagan, son of former US president Ronald Reagan.

The same thing applied to Iran, the secretary of state pointed out, adding that Syria needed "to get out of the hole that you have been in for all these years."

Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi issued a similar appeal to the three nations on Monday.

Powell, who is currently recovering at home after prostate cancer surgery, attributed success with Libya to the right mix of diplomatic and military pressure employed by the administration of US President George W. Bush and vowed to continue using both of these tools.

"So, diplomacy, force and diplomacy -- they have to be married up and each used in the service of the other," he said.

Kadhafi stunned the world last Friday, when he announced that his country had renounced its quest for all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and would allow thorough international inspection to prove its good will.

The announcement, confirmed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bush, capped nine months of secret diplomacy by the United States and Britain aimed at bringing about Libya's turnaround.

Powell said Syria has been doing a better job working with US troops along the border with Iraq but needed to change its behavior in other areas.

"Syria still doesn't get it that they have to abandon support of terrorist activity," said the secretary of state. "They've got to return any Iraqi monies that they might have in their bank, and they've started to take some minor actions in that regard."

He did not elaborate, but the dispute reportedly involves about 250 million dollars in Iraqi funds deposited in the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria.

Syria acknowledges the funds exist, but argues they must first be used to pay private Syrian companies to which the deposed Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein owed money, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.

Powell said he believed Iran "has now been more forthcoming" toward the international community "and starting to acknowledge that it had programs that it had denied it possessed earlier."

Iran signed a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty last week, which allows surprise inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The secretary of state called the stalled Middle East peace process "the most vexing challenge" he is facing on his job, but said that while the United States has not made progress on the roadmap to peace, there was, as he put it, "a lot of churning going on now."

He said he hoped Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qorei, would meet in coming weeks and promised a vigorous push next year toward a negotiated settlement in the region.

"We'll be making this a major priority along with the global war on terror, and along with making sure that we consolidate our victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then with all the other many items that are on the president's foreign policy agenda," Powell stated.

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20031224/wl_asia_afp/us_weapons_nkorea_syria_031224084036
9 posted on 12/24/2003 8:33:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Week of Seeming Breakthroughs for Bush

December 24, 2003
The Associated Press
George Gedda

WASHINGTON - It was, arguably, the best foreign policy week of the Bush presidency, starting with the capture of Saddam Hussein and ending with Libya's commitment to dismantle its doomsday weapons programs.

In between, Iran formally agreed to allow unrestricted access to its nuclear facilities, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker came back from Europe with promises from Iraq war opponents France, Germany and Russia to help ease Iraq's $120 billion debt burden.

There was more good news: The casualty rate for American soldiers in Iraq this month is less than half of what it was during November.

Encouraging developments indeed, but no one in the administration is claiming victory. There is no assurance that Saddam's arrest foreshadows a permanent decline in anti-American violence in Iraq or that a democratic Iraq is a shoo-in.

As for Iran, the administration says the country's acquiescence on international inspections is merely a good first step. U.S. mistrust for Tehran's mullahs, built up over 25 years, does not subside easily.

In contrast to Iran, the administration seems far more impressed about disarmament gestures by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who has bedeviled U.S. administrations since he took control of his North African country in 1969. President Bush said Gadhafi's promise was of great importance, but some in the administration remain unsure that Gadhafi has changed his stripes.

For all the seeming good news, the administration is aware that any display of triumphalism would be premature, especially with intelligence reports suggesting that al-Qaida may be planning catastrophic terror attacks against the United States in the near future.

Under normal circumstances, Secretary of State Colin Powell would be seen before the cameras, broadcasting the progress of the past 10 days. But except for a telephone interview this week with The New York Times, he has kept a very low profile since Dec. 9. Powell underwent surgery for prostate cancer on Dec. 15; he is said to be recovering nicely and expects to be back to work full time in January.

Powell has been heard from, however, in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine that was written before Saddam's arrest.

In it, Powell discussed Bush's policy of dealing with potential security threats through pre-emptive military force. The policy was designed, in part, to serve notice on leaders of rival countries that the cost of supporting terrorism or developing weapons of mass destruction has "gone way up," he wrote.

The pre-emption policy certainly appears to have caught Gadhafi's attention. Apparently worried that Libya might become a target, Gadhafi opened talks with the United States and Britain on what amounts to unilateral disarmament. The process began in March, just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and reached fruition with last Friday's announcements from Washington, London and Tripoli. Understandably, the Bush administration was delighted.

With Libya, Iran and Iraq all looking more manageable after last week's extraordinary developments, North Korea remains potentially the most explosive security problem for the administration.

The Korean Peninsula has been perhaps the world's most dangerous corner for more than 50 years, a situation that has worsened with North Korea's abandonment 14 months ago of its stated policy of nuclear restraint.

The administration had been hoping to resume negotiations with North Korea and four other regional countries last week in Beijing on the permanent dismantling of the North Korean weapons programs. But the parties were unable to agree on objectives for the talks.

It was the one major security issue on which the administration was unable to claim progress last week.

EDITOR'S NOTE - George Gedda has covered foreign affairs for The Associated Press since 1968.

http://www.iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=12&d=24&a=2

10 posted on 12/24/2003 8:35:20 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Seasoned Foreign-Policy Adviser Enables U.S. to Look Long Range

December 23, 2003
The Washington Post
Robin Wright

Robert D. Blackwill is the new "grand pooh-bah" of U.S. foreign policy.

His official title is coordinator for strategic planning, a new post that makes him the in-house visionary at the National Security Council. It means he has free rein to think, track global trends and predict the unnoticed or unintended consequences of U.S. foreign policy decisions anywhere in the world, according to officials.

In his spare time, Blackwill also handles three of the trickiest foreign policy challenges facing the Bush White House -- Iraq's political transformation, Afghanistan and Iran.

The job was designed to provide cohesion and long-range planning for a White House foreign policy team under stress from breaking wars and ongoing crises. Blackwill has quickly become the alter ego to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

It's a role reversal: Rice's last big job in government was working for Blackwill when he dealt with the Soviet empire's tumultuous unraveling in the first Bush administration. Now he is her adviser -- with some speculation that he might succeed her in a second Bush term.

Blackwill has been with the Bush team from the beginning. Under Rice, he was one of a coterie who had advised the president during his first campaign. The ambassadorship to India was his reward.

A Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi who went on to serve as a diplomat in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Blackwill had never been to India. But with a lifelong focus on the world's major powers, he sought the assignment because of President Bush's designation of India as a "rising great power of the 21st century."

Although he returned this summer, part of Blackwill's heart is clearly still in India. A huge map of "Mother India" adorns the cream-colored walls of his fastidious office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The only item on his vast desktop -- besides precisely arranged wooden "in" and "out" boxes -- is a tiny figurine of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-headed god of wisdom and success.

During his two-year stint, Blackwill oversaw one of the fastest transformations in relations between the United States and any country by peaceful means, he noted in a farewell address to the Conference of Indian Industry in New Delhi this summer. When he arrived in 2001, India was under U.S. economic sanctions because of its 1998 nuclear tests and was considered "a nuclear renegade whose policies threatened the entire nonproliferation regime," he recalled.

By the time he left, sanctions had been lifted, and cooperation flourished on issues ranging from counterterrorism to the HIV/AIDS crisis. And the U.S. and Indian militaries were engaged in almost monthly joint training exercises.

"The Bush administration perceives India as a strategic opportunity for the United States, not as an irritating recalcitrant," Blackwill said shortly before leaving India.

But India, in which he traveled by both rail and elephant, transformed him somewhat, too. In a farewell reflection in July, Blackwill said the world for him now falls into two groups -- those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who haven't. An avid reader, he lauded the Indian novel in English. "Who is writing better fiction today than these folks?" he said.

Blackwill has long been noted for pulling quotes out of the air, from Humphrey Bogart's lines in "Casablanca" to Aristotle pithily defining analysis -- "illumination through disaggregation." In India, he added Krishna to the list -- "Be thou of even mind" -- as well as a taste for sugar in strong tea and Indian dancing.

In his farewell address, Blackwill fondly recalled "gyrating frenetically in a borrowed red turban with a professional local dance group on a lawn on a balmy evening in Chandigarth" -- and his disappointment that members of the group did not ask "the long-legged whirling dervish" to join them permanently.

Other parts of South Asia, however, were relieved to see him leave New Delhi.

He was dubbed "Mr. Black-will" by Pakistani analyst Ershad Mahmud of the Institute of Policy Studies, in an article welcoming his departure, for acting as "Delhi's front man rather than U.S. ambassador to India."

Blackwill "damaged" U.S.-Pakistani relations "in every possible way," Mahmud charged. "He even encouraged India to take [a] hostile stance against Pakistan."

Some State Department officials, frustrated when they were bypassed in policy formulation because of Blackwill's close ties to the White House, weren't sorry to see him go, either. He also sometimes overpowers those he works with, colleagues say.

"He's extremely bright. He has a very penetrating intellect that produces great ideas," said one official who worked with him and, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity. "He's also utterly charming and has more energy than anybody around him. He never sleeps. He's a double-A type.

"But he's also a prickly demanding personality who can become impatient with others who don't keep up with him," the official added. "He's hard on people because he's smart. He wants things now."

Blackwill's style may in part reflect his prairie roots, another strong influence in his life. He grew up in Kansas. His mother, who called him "Bobby Dean," hailed from South Dakota.

"From my boyhood on the Great Plains, I brought back east more than 30 years ago the values of Kansas and its people: honesty, candor, compassion, hard work, a dogged stamina in the face of challenge and adversity, a sense of humor, a recognition of one's own limitations, and a deep and abiding love of country," Blackwill said at his June 2001 Senate confirmation hearings to become ambassador to India.

He pledged to "take these prairie values" with him to India. He also brought them back. The other most noticeable art in his office is a poster of the lonely landscape around a Texaco gas station in rural America, a blowup from a 1953 Life magazine photograph by Andreas Feininger.

Blackwill almost did not return to Washington, however. From India, he was headed back this fall to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he had taught for 14 years. Then he got the call from Rice asking him to come to Washington.

He fits in well with this administration. Although a colorful and highly public figure in the past, Blackwill is now among the least accessible officials. In his heart, he tells colleagues, he's a 19th-century man who believes in the necessity of secrecy.

http://www.iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=12&d=24&a=3
11 posted on 12/24/2003 8:37:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Pakistan admits to Iran nuclear role

By Ian Traynor
London
December 25, 2003

Pakistan has admitted for the first time that it may have been the source of sensitive nuclear know-how and equipment for Iran's uranium-enrichment program, a sophisticated and extensive project that has been kept secret for 18 years.

The admission from the Government in Islamabad on Tuesday followed weeks of denial of any involvement in the Iranian projects.

It followed Pakistan's disclosure that it was questioning Abdul Qadeer Khan - the man who masterminded Pakistan's acquisition of nuclear weapons - about possible links with Iran.

Pakistan is under intense pressure from Western countries and from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, to clarify its suspected role in supplying Iran with nuclear information and technology.

The Foreign Ministry in Islamabad continued to deny that Pakistan had had any role in nuclear proliferation, but conceded that some of its nuclear experts might have acted out of "ambition or greed" in supplying nuclear technology.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has detained three prominent nuclear scientists for questioning, and on Monday it announced it was also "debriefing" Mr Khan, who was removed as the head of the country's main nuclear laboratory three years ago under pressure from Washington.

Mr Khan, revered in Pakistan as the man who achieved Pakistan's nuclear parity with India, worked in the Netherlands in the 1970s at Urenco, the British-Dutch-German world leader in uranium-enrichment technology.

After he left the Netherlands and returned home, a Dutch court sentenced him to four years in prison for stealing sensitive designs for centrifuge technology used to enrich uranium to weapons grade. The verdict was later overturned.

But diplomats in Vienna - the home of the energy agency - following the development of Pakistan's and Iran's nuclear programs say Pakistan's arrival as a nuclear power in 1998 was due to its copying, modifying and improving the European enrichment blueprint.

UN inspectors who examined Iran's nascent uranium enrichment centre at Natanz this year concluded that the designs were identical to Pakistan's. After 18 years of secretly buying and importing much of the equipment, Tehran admitted it had acquired the material on the international black market.

A lengthy dossier on the Iranian program, supplied to the energy agency by Tehran in October, identified some of the sources of the equipment and the middlemen involved.

In recent weeks, agency nuclear detectives have visited several capitals around the world as part of their investigation into Iran.

They have also demanded co-operation from Pakistan, which they see as a prime suspect in the Iranian dealings.

"Confronted by the agency with pretty overwhelming evidence, the Pakistanis thought they had better do something," said a diplomat in Vienna.

- Guardian

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/24/1072239719611.html
12 posted on 12/24/2003 9:07:48 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Police Warn of Terror Threat in Turkey

December 24, 2003
The Associated Press
Louis Meixler

Ankara Turkey -- New evidence emerged that terrorists may be planning attacks at Western targets in Turkey during the holidays, according to a police document, while Americans living abroad were warned to keep a low profile.

The threats Tuesday of new attacks followed Sunday's decision by the Bush administration to raise the terror alert level to orange on new fears that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror group could stage a major attack soon at home or abroad.

Based partly on information from British and Israeli intelligence, the Bush administration suspects terrorists are eyeing Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Bahrain, Yemen and the United States for attacks during the holiday season.

In another terrorist plot timed for Christmas Eve, Spanish police on Wednesday arrested two suspected Basque separatists accused of planting a 55-pound bomb on a busy train. The bomb was timed to detonate at about 4 p.m. in Madrid's packed Chamartin station.

One suspect also was carrying a second 55-pound bomb in a suitcase when he was arrested, Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.

Britain's top police officer warned people to be vigilant during the holiday season. In Yemen, security around embassies was noticeably tighter.

The most chilling warning came in Turkey, where an internal police intelligence document obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday cautioned that militants were infiltrating the country to complete preparations for new attacks that could target Western interests or Istanbul's popular Akmerkez shopping mall.

Militants believed to be linked to al-Qaida bombed two Istanbul synagogues in mid-November and later struck the British consulate and the local branch of a London-based bank. Those attacks killed 62 people, including the suicide bombers.

"It is being detected that the preparations for a large-scale third wave of attacks to follow up the suicide bombings has been completed," said the document signed by two senior police officials, including the head of the Istanbul security department.

"Some of those who will carry out the attacks entered Turkey from Syria, and the others were preparing to enter."

Westerners were keeping a low profile Wednesday in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

"Everybody is aware that there is a terrorist threat and Christmas time would be a more active period for the terrorists to do something," said Richard May, manager of the Seder Village compound in Riyadh, which has been named by the American and British embassies as a possible target.

"Nobody is panicking, but it would be foolish to say that people don't have concerns. There are concerns and everybody is being extremely cautious and vigilant."

In the past 13 months, al-Qaida-linked groups have staged major terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Turkey. Yemen was the site of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor, which killed 17 U.S. sailors.

In Washington, U.S. officials speaking Tuesday on condition of anonymity were reluctant to disclose detailed intelligence information, but said other countries may be targeted.

In Bahrain, the U.S. Embassy in Manama warned that it had received information about a possible terrorist attack during the holidays and cautioned Americans to avoid places where Westerners gather and to reduce unnecessary travel.

The Persian Gulf country is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. More than 5,000 Americans live there.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the embassy issued the warning based on "information that deals with possible threats specific to Bahrain."

Iran boosted security at the Swiss, British and Turkish embassies in Tehran as "precautionary measures," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Wednesday.

London's top police officer Sir John Stevens cautioned Britons to be vigilant but said he had no specific information about attacks.

Last month, Britain's security services were placed on a higher level of alert because of intelligence suggesting al-Qaida might be planning a new attack. Stevens said he had received no warnings similar to one by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge that terrorists were planning attacks that could rival or eclipse in scale those of Sept. 11.

"Six weeks ago the necessary actions were taken, we have raised our level," Stevens said Tuesday. "There is an immense amount of activity going on even as I speak in terms of ensuring that people's security is there and more of that will go on over Christmas and the New Year."

In the United States, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is broadening air patrols throughout the country. U.S. officials say there also seems to be interest in targeting holiday events that draw large crowds.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/12/24/international0430EST0465.DTL
13 posted on 12/24/2003 10:17:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Reiterates Its Total Sovereignty Over 3 Islands

December 24, 2003
AFP
IranMania.com

TEHRAN -- Iran reiterated Wednesday its "total sovereignty" over three Persian Gulf islands currently in dispute with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the press reported.

"Iran maintains total sovereignty and possession of the three islands of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs as well as Abu Musa," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in reaction to final declaration of the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) summit meeting in Kuwait.

"Maintaining positive and constructive negotiations between officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the UAE government in an atmosphere of friendship and goodwill will lead to expansion of mutual cooperation, deepening of bilateral ties in various fields and removing the existing misunderstanding over the 1971 MoU (memorandum of understanding) on Abu Musa Island," he said.

Tehran gained control after British forces left the Persian Gulf in 1971. On Monday, the oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab monarchies at the end of their annual summit in Kuwait reaffirmed their support for the UAE in its dispute with Iran over the three islands.

Some three weeks ago Iran welcomed a UAE offer to boost ties but reaffirmed its sovereignty over the islands. The UAE federation was established in 1971 following Britain's pullout from the region, shortly after Tehran took control of the islands situated roughly halfway between the two countries.

The GCC groups the gas- and oil-rich states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=20908&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
14 posted on 12/24/2003 10:19:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: All
WISHING ALL THE IRAN THREAD READERS A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.

nuconvert
15 posted on 12/24/2003 1:07:14 PM PST by nuconvert
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To: DoctorZIn
A new era of pool halls, paintball, and pet dogs is dawning on politically repressed Iran. The click of balls on a pool table is being heard again in Iran nearly a quarter of a century after the ayatollahs outlawed the game because of its associations with gambling. It is a triumphant sound.

Professor Harold Hill warned about this years ago.

16 posted on 12/24/2003 1:12:07 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: nuconvert; DoctorZIn; Pan_Yans Wife; F14 Pilot; faludeh_shirazi; democracy; Cyrus the Great; ...

A woman decorates a store front with Christmas decorations in Tehran, December 23, 2003


Christmas tree salesmen wait for customers on a Tehran street, December 23, 2003
17 posted on 12/24/2003 8:52:27 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn

Iranian-born Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Israel will 'dig its own grave' if it attacks Iranian nuclear sites, the head of the Iranian air force General Seyed Reza Pardis warned, reacting defiantly to threats by the Jewish state.(AFP/File/Pedro Ugarte)
18 posted on 12/24/2003 8:53:43 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Happy Yalda
We decorate a small Sarve not necessarily for Mitra, but in memory of my ancestors

By Ash Farhang
December 23, 2003
The Iranian

A chance meeting some years ago with an Iranian scholar who, as fate has it, now lives in Helsinki, Finland, introduced me to an aspect of Iranian history, which to this date is nothing short of a love affair with my ancestors. Though long forgotten, they deserve to be remembered for what they truly were. For this enlightenment, I am forever indebted to this friend.

At this particular time of year, I would like to share something with you that I think speaks volumes of plagiarisms and outright thefts of many Iranian thoughts and customs. I feel sure that many of you are aware of this, but circumstances have made it difficult to assert the facts or to remind your colleagues and compatriots of them.

When my children were growing up and were still at home, as parents, Christmas was a difficult time for us. Like all other Iranian children, ours could not quite understand the lack of enthusiasm during this particular holiday.

I am inclined to think that this, among many others, may have been the main contributing factor for their feeling that their parents were "different". They wished we would make the same efforts at Christmas as other parents, but because our hearts were not in it, everything we did seemed either artificial or pretentious, which made us in their eyes even more "different".

However, the chance meeting changed all that with the result that a small amount of research produced many sweet historical facts. Had I known this when my children were small, I would have happily, gladly, and most proudly celebrated this particular holiday season as one of our very own. And I would not have had all those uncomfortable feelings at Christmas with or without a tree.

Yalda (winter solstice) is an ancient Iranian word and appears in many of Prophet Mani's writings. The word refers to a new Beginning from which the Arabic words milaad, tavalod etc. were derived. Mitra (or Mithra) the early Iranian Prophet, considering Light as the essence of existence and life, believed in its sanctity. The Sun as its most obvious manifestation was revered and some out of pure ignorance concluded that Mitra worshiped the Sun.

Whether she did or not she was believed to have been born by divine gesture on December 21st, the longest night of the year, specifically to begin the struggle and triumph of "Light" over "Dark" by having longer and longer days following the longest night of the year.

Mitra's birthday was celebrated for a total of 10 days up to and including the First of January. It is not an accident that half way through the celebrations, namely December 25th, was chosen as Jesus' birthday and January 1st as the first day of New Year.

Remember that Romans, prior to Christianity, practiced Mitraism and only out of political considerations, in the year 376, they converted to the new religion that had started within their own territory. They were not too happy about their main philosophy and religion having been imported from their main and only competitor, namely, the Persian Empire, they converted expeditiously.

According to one source, the Iranians celebrated this day as early as 2,000 BC. Zoroastrians after refining and discarding some of the mythical and "heretical" aspects of Mithraism, retained Yalda (The Birth), and additionally encouraged celebrations of Noruz and Mehregan among many others.

Ancient Iranians celebrated Yalda by decorating an evergreen tree, the Sarve. The Sarve, Rocket Juniper (what a name!), also known as the cypress tree, being straight, upright, resilient and resistant to the cold weather (all signs of strength and upright of character) was thought appropriate to represent Mitra, the omnipotent and ubiquitous deity.

The younger girls had their "wishes" symbolically wrapped in colorful silk cloth and hung them on the tree as offerings to Mitra with an expectation, no doubt, that their prayers would be rewarded (remnants of this traditions can still be seen in Iran at remote villages where some young girls tie colorful bundles to trees to answer to their "wishes") . Thus the tradition of decorations of the tree with lights and gifts on or beside the tree was born.

As you may know, Pope Leo, in the fourth century (A.D.376), after almost destroying the last temple of Mitra (Mitraeum) in his campaign against Mitraism and in the good old Christian tradition, "If you can't claim it, imitate it and call it your own," proclaimed the 25th of December as Christ's birthday and January 1st (not March 21st as was the norm) as the first day of New Year.

Again in the same Euro-Christian tradition of not identifying the source, Luther, the famous German reformer, in the 18th century (1756, I believe), having learned of the Yalda Tree tradition, introduced the Christmas tree to the Germans. However, as Sarves were not much known in Germany, nor indeed in much of Europe, the chosen tree became a genus of pine, abundant in Europe.

So now with or without the children at home, we decorate a small Sarve with a star (Mitra's) on top and many presents all around, not necessarily for Mitra, but in memory of my ancestors for my children and grandchildren.

Please, therefore, decorate a tree at this joyous time, call it by its true name -- Yalda Tree -- and celebrate it as your own and don't feel ambivalent when your children wonder if we celebrate the occasion. So Happy Yalda and the greetings of the season to all of you; no matter what your religion.

http://www.iranian.com/History/2003/December/Christmas/index.html

Note: Yalda is a holiday for Iranians.
19 posted on 12/24/2003 9:02:01 PM PST by freedom44
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To: nuconvert
Merry Christmas to everyone. Have safe celebrations with loved ones.

Best wishes.
20 posted on 12/24/2003 9:14:27 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (Submitting approval for the CAIR COROLLARY to GODWIN'S LAW.)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
Merry Christmas!
21 posted on 12/24/2003 9:29:49 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn; Eala

Students calling for Boycott of upcoming parlimentary elections as a sign of rejection of both reformist and hard-liners.

Eala; thought you'd enjoy the lion burning the islamic republic flag.
22 posted on 12/24/2003 9:31:43 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; F14 Pilot; democracy; faludeh_shirazi

Funny stuff..
23 posted on 12/24/2003 9:33:43 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Merry Christmas and thanks for all the fun and interesting pings. United and together for a free Iran.
24 posted on 12/24/2003 10:01:20 PM PST by GOPJ
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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”

25 posted on 12/25/2003 12:03:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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