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Iranian Alert -- January 20, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 1.20.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/20/2004 12:03:26 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; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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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 01/20/2004 12:03:26 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 01/20/2004 12:06:29 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran’s Request For Israel Is An Illusion

American Daily
20th of Jan, 2004
Gary Fitleberg

Iran is clearly attempting to divert attention away from its own activities of concealment and deceit in a nuclear weapons program, believed by America for weapons of mass destruction, by pressing Israel to relinquish nuclear weapons.

Although it is believed that Israel has nuclear weapons capability, Israel has never ever either confirmed nor denied it has a deterrent nuclear program.

According to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharraz, Israel should be pressed to give up nuclear weapons.

Kharraz made is remarks after talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. Syria has proposed that the UN Security Council should declare the Middle East a nuclear weapons free zone. "International pressure should be applied to Israel to eradicate its weapons of mass destruction in the interests of the whole region," Kharrazi said. The Security Council is divided on the question of taking up Syria's proposal, which is perceived as aimed at Israel.

One can not expect Israel to give up a deterrent force against any enemy sworn to its annihilation and destruction. Iran and Syria, two of the largest state sponsors of terrorism must clean up their own act and house before pointing the finger at others in the Middle East. Any attempt to pressure Israel to relinquish a deterrent nuclear program which is neither confirmed nor denied is clearly an illusion as well as a smokescreen in covering up its true objective.
Gary is a Political Analyst specializing in International Relations with emphasis on Middle East affairs.
3 posted on 01/20/2004 12:11:54 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Is there any truth in that, senor?)
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To: DoctorZIn
Editorial: Iran's stacked vote

January 20, 2004

Iran's hard-line clerics know that their rule is illegitimate. They continue in power only because of their control of the security services, courts and the media. They also know the Iranian people would vote them out of office in a Tehran minute.

The Iranian people can't dismiss the clerics because the final say over every function of government is concentrated in the handpicked, self-perpetuating Council of Guardians.

Iran does have a parliament, a relatively powerless one, but in the closest thing Iran has ever had to a referendum, liberals and moderates swamped the clerics' conservative allies in the 2000 parliamentary elections. The Guardians are determined it won't happen again in new elections Feb. 20.

The Council has the final say over who can run for the 290 seats at stake. More than 8,200 would-be candidates have registered to run, but the council has disqualified hundreds of liberal and moderate candidates, including dozens of sitting lawmakers. And the purge continues.

There isn't much the United States can do to unrig this election, but, for the first time, the council is hearing mutterings of active resistance. Now, Iran's supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says he will review the candidate disqualifications.

If Iran's clerics press ahead with dictating the outcome of the election by truncating the ballot, the world should denounce this election for what it is — a fraud.,1651,TCP_1125_2581974,00.html
4 posted on 01/20/2004 12:12:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Retreat in Iran


IN THE latest round of the tussle for power in Iran, the Guardians' Council, a conservative-dominated body, has barred nearly half of 8,000 hopefuls from standing for election on political and theological grounds. Among them are about 80 sitting members in a parliament where reformers have put conservatives on the defensive. In a sense, the council's move to alter the political landscape ahead of the parliamentary elections, which are due to take place on Feb 20, is a sign of desperation. Conservatives are already in charge of the main levers of power: the courts, the armed forces, the broadcast media and the council, which can reject Bills it considers unIslamic or unconstitutional and veto election candidates. The scale on which the council has used its veto power this time - only 8 per cent of candidates were blocked out before the 2000 vote - suggests hardliners are more nervous about their prospects than they would like to confess.

However, whatever the conservatives' problems, the reformers are faring worse, the very shrillness of their protests betraying their desperation. Many legislators staged a daily sit-in in the lobby of the Majlis, reformist President Mohammad Khatami warned that he might resign if the disqualifications were not reversed, and his political party has threatened to boycott the elections. It appeared for a moment that the political disquiet was having some effect when supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the Guardians' Council to reconsider the disqualifications. But on Sunday, council spokesman Ebrahim Azizi showed that very little had changed. Calling on candidates to prove their 'practical commitment' to Islam and the Islamic Republic, he said that those who, among other things, question the religious government are not qualified to run.

The criteria are so broad it is almost impossible for the council not to net those it wants to - and make overtures to those it wishes to. This Mr Azizi did when he said that certain candidates, notably incumbents, could still run given that their 'aptitude' had been approved in the past.

But even here, he hedged his words in a way that suggests the council is trying to drive a wedge in the reformist camp between those it considers deserving of rehabilitation, and those whose criticism of unelected hardliners in open parliamentary sessions has crossed the line.

Although barometers of the public mood show that 70 per cent of Iranians want reform, citizens do not seem to care much about the current impasse. They have grown accustomed to the reformists' failure to contend with conservatives and translate political promises into reality. Indeed, even those who care do so with a healthy dose of scepticism. For example, a student leader pointed out that MPs did not object to the widespread vetoing of candidates until their own turn arrived. Such is the degree of resignation that Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace prize recipient, has said that President Khatami should keep his word and resign if hardliners keep stalling his agenda. That dramatic denouement - which would end Teheran's pretence of a flirtation with democracy - does not look likely. What does appear possible is a tactical manoeuvre by the council. If it publishes a final list only a week or so before the elections, the reformists will have little time to campaign. For the time being, there is a stalemate between reformers and hardliners. To many Iranians, that is another way of saying conservatives are winning without reformists being forced to concede they are on the losing side.,4386,231009,00.html
5 posted on 01/20/2004 12:15:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Austrian President due in Iran

Jan 19, 2004, 23:53

President Thomas Klestil will pay a four-day state visit to Iran starting this Saturday for political and economic talks with his host, President Mohammed Khatami, according to Klestil's office in Vienna.

Accompanied by a large economic and business delegation, Klestil would discuss possibilities of building up economic relations with the Islamic Republic, the announcement said.

There would also be talks on world political issues.

Klestil's visit comes at a difficult time in Iran, observers say.
6 posted on 01/20/2004 12:16:45 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Amnesty urges Switzerland to back Iran rights

Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - ©2003

GENEVA, Jan 19 (AFP) -- Human rights group Amnesty International urged the Swiss government to use the visit of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami this week to back human rights reform in the Islamic republic.

Accompanied by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Khatami is due to make a one-day official visit to Switzerland on Tuesday, before participating in the World Economic Forum beginning beginning a day later in Davos.

Amnesty spokesman Juerg Keler, speaking to Swiss press agency ATS, argued that the human rights situation in Iran had not improved in the past few years under Khatami's reformist government.

According to the rights watchdog, Keler said, 113 people were executed in Iran in 2002. Other rights organizations have said as many as 420 people were executed by the regime.

Keler also condemned practices still in Iran like death by stoning and lashing.

Iran is embroiled in a crisis pitting Khatami's political allies against the powerful Guardians Council, a conservative-dominated body which has barred a large number of reformist candidates from standing in February election.
7 posted on 01/20/2004 12:18:12 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
'Hero' suspected in nuke transfer

By Anwar Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man revered as a national hero as the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, might have been involved in the transfer of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Pakistani authorities say.

Yesterday, officials in Islamabad confirmed that they had detained some of Mr. Khan's senior aides for questioning.

"So far, our investigations indicate that only one man is behind this alleged transfer. It is wrong to blame an entire nation for the mistakes of an individual," a senior Pakistani official told United Press International after the detentions.

Without naming Mr. Khan, the official said, "We gave him the status of a national hero when he did something for the country, but now if he makes a mistake, he will have to pay for his mistake as well."

Mr. Khan and some of his associates already have been questioned about suspected involvement in selling bomb-making know-how to Iran.

Pakistan denies detaining its nuclear scientists for questioning, but says several have been "debriefed."

Masud Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistan Foreign Office, who is not related to the scientist, said it was wrong to "presume" that those being debriefed were guilty.

"Some of them could also be cleared," he said.

The investigations, he said, were being conducted under Pakistani laws and "those who have not violated these should have no fears whatsoever."

Pakistan has been investigating the export of nuclear technology and equipment to Iran since early last month, when U.S. news organizations first reported the proliferation.

Quoting officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, several U.S. newspapers reported that Iran clandestinely had received centrifuges and other nuclear know-how from its Islamic neighbor Pakistan.

Tehran has acknowledged having centrifuge designs similar to those used in Pakistan but denied receiving them from Islamabad.

Pakistan denied the government in Islamabad might have been involved in the transfer, but said some scientists might have handed over nuclear equipment to Iran "out of personal ambition or greed."

Those detained yesterday included Islam-ul Haq, a retired major of the Pakistan army who has been Mr. Khan's senior aide since at least May 1998 when Pakistan exploded nuclear devices after similar tests by arch rival India.
8 posted on 01/20/2004 12:20:05 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
9 posted on 01/20/2004 2:49:15 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; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...
Their games/shows have started -- Pilot

Iran body allows 200 candidates

BBC News
20 January, 2004

Iran's Guardian Council is allowing 200 reformist candidates of more than 3,500 blacklisted a week ago to stand in next month's elections.

Abbas Kadkodaye of the conservative legal body said it was speeding up the review process after an appeal by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Council's decision has plunged Iran into crisis provoking accusations that hardliners are trying to rig the polls.

President Khatami's political party has threatened to boycott the elections.

"After the order was given by the Supreme Leader, we have been obliged to speed up our work," said Mr Kadkodaye on the Guardian Council website.

"So far 200 candidates have been approved".

He did not specify which candidates.

'Urgent measures'

Mr Khamenei intervened at the weekend, urging the 12-member body - which screens all laws and candidates - to re-examine its blacklist.

"The Guardian Council has enough time to review the cases carefully... to prevent the violation of anyone's rights," he said at the time.

On Monday, President Khatami's party, Association of Combatant Clerics, raised the pressure by threatening to boycott elections scheduled for 20 February.

"If urgent measures are not taken to settle the current problem, which prevents free competition between legal political views, there is no further reason for the Association to take part in the parliamentary election," it said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the electoral vetting arm of the Guardian Council disqualified more than 3,500 of the 8,000 or so candidates.

Since that time, around 80 of the banned MPs have refused to leave the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, in protest at their being banned from re-election.

'Bullying tactics'

While their candidacies received the backing of Ayatollah Khamenei, he warned the Guardians Council not to retreat in the face of people who wanted to resort to bullying tactics, a tacit reference to the protest itself.

The Guardians Council on Sunday reiterated its defiant posture in a rare news conference, saying it would not bow to pressure to retract the candidate vetoes.

Spokesman Ebrahim Aziz said its members would "not succumb to any pressure or propaganda", but added that they would follow Ayatollah Khamenei's request to review the cases.

The Council has until 30 January to complete its review.

Those still disqualified have another chance to appeal before campaigning starts on 12 February.
10 posted on 01/20/2004 5:42:01 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Is there any truth in that, senor?)
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To: F14 Pilot
I'm sure they are trying to attract people to get more votes for their favorite candidates.
11 posted on 01/20/2004 5:44:39 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.)
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To: F14 Pilot
And Saudi Arabia will develop nukes, next.
12 posted on 01/20/2004 8:12:57 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
Freedom in Iran
Looking toward the spring.

By Bahman Batmanghelidj & Kamal Azari

The oppressive clerical dictatorship in Iran has once again squashed any illusions of "democratic reform" via recent actions by its hard-line Council of Guardians, which has disqualified a high percentage of candidates from running in the February parliamentary elections.

Since 1997, Iran has had four national elections, in which Iranians have been able to vote for candidates claiming to represent the less extremist elements of the governing clergy. Over 70 percent of the population voted for candidates they hoped would offer more freedom, though this has been in vain, as clerical hard-liners ignored the voice of the voters and continued to use their power to veto, repress, and crush even a few modest efforts at a political opening. For all the elections Iran holds, and for all the post election spins of "reformists" and "religious democracy," the real decisions are made by a handful of ayatollahs behind closed doors.

Now the hard-line dictatorship has overreached by trying to prevent even symbolic opposition. Consequently, the Iranian people are witnessing the detested clerical dictatorship fighting amongst themselves, as all 18 provincial governors, 80 members of parliament, and even the minister of the interior staged a public sit-in demanding reversal of the decision to exclude more than half of the candidates.

Not that it matters to the cause of freedom. This tyranny is incapable of reform — the regime must, and will be, replaced by the Iranian people. Today not only the young population of Iran, and its women, but also a significant proportion of the military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as most of the clergy in Iran, all oppose and reject the rule of the hard-liners. In fact, the regime's own public opinion polls found only about seven percent gave it their support. The regime's repression, massive financial corruption, economic failures, and its negative effects on the Islamic faith of the population demonstrate what President Bush correctly said in November: "In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad...."

As pro-democracy Iranians in exile, in touch with like-minded Iranians at home, our purpose is to use nonviolent means to help the people of Iran remove the current repressive and corrupt dictatorship. We seek a democratic, secular system of governance, which will respect the inherent human rights of each person, including freedom of religion, political speech, assembly, and association. We espouse free, fair, and open elections as the means of choosing the political leadership.

Replacement of the Islamic republic in Iran with a democratic regime means the immediate termination of Iran's support for international terrorism; an end to its covert intervention and support for violent elements in other states — including Iraq and Afghanistan; and, dismantling of its massive, expensive, and dangerous military programs in weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. This will promote peace, bring safety to the people of Iran, and will save billions of dollars annually.

We strongly advise the Bush administration to consistently support the cause of freedom, and decline to listen to the siren song of "openings" with tyrants proffered by the diplomats at the State Department. There must be no concessions, no easing of sanctions against this brutal and oppressive dictatorship. The pro-democratic movement is organized, and we welcome the support and participation of all who share our purposes and our principles in the coming peaceful campaign of massive citizen protest to bring about the removal of the despotic Ayatollahs in Iran.

This is our liberation; we shall do it as Iranians. From the world's governments, we ask only political encouragement of freedom, and an end to open or secret talks that the clerical regime can use to feign legitimacy and to maintain its rule in the face of rejection by the people of Iran.
13 posted on 01/20/2004 8:17:04 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Bump!
14 posted on 01/20/2004 9:54:02 AM PST by blackie
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To: DoctorZIn
RSF Calls for the Immediate Release of Independent Journalist

January 19, 2004
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of independent journalist Ensafali Hedayat, employed by a number of reformist dailies, who was arrested at his home by order of the Tabriz revolutionary court in north-western Iran on 16 January.

"We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ensafali Hedayat, arrested without reason. We note that, with ten other journalists imprisoned, Iran is the Middle East's largest jail for journalists. We call on the Iranian authorities to free all of them, " said Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders.

Hedayat had just returned from Germany where he attended the first conference of the union of Iranian Republicans in Berlin from 8-10 January. He had been accredited and covered the meeting as a journalist. The authorities, who searched his home, seized personal documents included data CDs and the hard disk of his computer.

Hedayat was previously arrested on 16 June 2003, at the University of Tabriz, where he was covering student demonstrations. Accused of inciting the students to revolt, he spent more than 20 days in solitary confinement. After his release on 14 July, he wrote a letter to President Khatami in which he spoke out against his prison conditions and against torture practised by the security forces.
15 posted on 01/20/2004 10:06:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Study the Koran?

January 20, 2004
Daniel Pipes

“Anyone concerned with what's happening in our world ought to spend some time reading the Koran.” Andy Rooney, the famed CBS commentator, gave this advice shortly after 9/11, as did plenty of others.

His suggestion makes intuitive sense, given that the terrorists themselves say they are acting on the basis of the holy scripture of Islam. Accused 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta had a Koran (sometimes spelled Qur’an) in the suitcase he had checked for his flight. His five-page document of advice for fellow hijackers instructed them to pray, ask God for guidance, and “continue to recite the Koran.” Osama bin Laden often quotes the Koran to motivate and convince followers.

Witnesses report that at least one of the suicide bombers who tried to assassinate Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf last month was reading the Koran before blowing himself up. Hamas suicide videotapes routinely feature the Koran.

And lots of non-Muslims in fact have been reading the Koran. In the weeks after Sept. 11, the book’s largest publisher in the United States reported that sales had quintupled; it had to airlift copies from Great Britain to meet the demand. American bookstores reported selling more Korans than Bibles.

All this, incidentally, was music to Islamist ears. Hossam Gabri of the Islamic Society of Boston, a group tied to a terrorism funder, considers non-Muslims trying to understand the Koran “a very good development.”

But reading the Koran is precisely the wrong way to go about understanding “what's happening in our world.” That’s because the Koran is:

- Profound. One cannot pick it up and understand its meaning when nearly every sentence is the subject of annotations, commentaries, glosses, and superglosses. Such a document requires intensive study of its context, development, and rival interpretations. The U.S. Constitution offers a good analogy; its 2nd Amendment consists of a just twenty-seven words (“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”) but it is the subject of numerous book-length studies. No one coming fresh to this sentence has any idea of its implications.

- Complex and contradictory. Contradictions in the text have been studied and reconciled over the centuries through extensive scholarly study. Some verses have been abrogated and replaced by others with contrary meanings. For example, verse 9:5 commands Muslims not to slay pagans until the sacred months have passed and verse 9:36 tells Muslims to fight pagans during those same months. The casual reader has no idea which of these is operational. (In fact, the latter is.)

- Static: An unchanging holy scripture cannot account for change over time. If the Koran causes terrorism, then how does one explain the 1960s, when militant Islamic violence barely existed? The Koran was the same text then as now. More broadly, over a period of fourteen centuries, Muslims have been inspired by the Koran to act in ways aggressive and passive, pious and not, tolerant and not. Logic demands that one look elsewhere than an immutable text to account for such shifts.

- Partial: Holy books have vast importance but do not create the immediate context of action. Reading the Bible in isolation gives limited insight into the range of Jewish and Christian experiences over the millennia; likewise, Muslims have read the Koran differently over time. The admonishment for female modesty meant one thing to Egyptian feminists in the 1920s and another to their descendants today. Then, head coverings represented oppression and exclusion from public life. Today, in the words of a British newspaper headline, “Veiled is beautiful.” Then, the head-covering signaled a woman not being a full human being; now, in the words of an editor at a fashion magazine, head-covering “tells you, you’re a woman. … You have to be treated as an independent mind.” Reading the Koran in isolation misses this unpredictable evolution. In brief, the Koran is not a history book.

A history book, however, is a history book. Instead of the Koran, I urge anyone wanting to study militant Islam and the violence it inspires to understand such phenomena as the Wahhabi movement, the Khomeini revolution, and Al-Qaeda. Muslim history, not Islamic theology, explains how we got here and hints at what might come next.

Daniel Pipes ( is a historian, director of the Middle East Forum, and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).
16 posted on 01/20/2004 10:11:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
A US Couple Learn the Koran in Iran's Holy City

January 20, 2004
Christian Science Monitor
Michael Theodoulou

QOM, IRAN -- People back home simply cannot understand why Wally and Evelyn Shellenberger have chosen to spend nearly three years in the Iranian holy city of Qom.

They are the only American Christians living in the 1,000-year old desert city, which is perched on the edge of a great salt lake 90 miles south of Tehran. It is a world apart from the green hills of their home in Indiana.

The couple are Mennonite Christians who are in Qom on an exchange program with an Islamic institute aimed at building understanding and friendship between the two faiths.

Between the turquoise-and gold-domed mosques and walled seminaries, they share the dusty streets of this austere city - Iran's foremost Shiite Muslim center of clerical learning and a prime destination for pilgrims - with bearded clerics and women swathed in black chadors. There are no bars, fast-food outlets, or video stores in Qom. And Westerners are conspicuous by their absence in the city that was the ideological epicenter of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, a cornerstone of which was anti-Americanism.

"Ordinary people back home think it's a dangerous place to be, but actually it's probably as safe a place as any in the world," says Dr. Shellenberger, a soft-spoken retired psychiatrist who wears a trim white beard without a mustache. "We're treated very well as guests."

It was human tragedy on a massive scale that led to the first contacts between Iran and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), an organization of the Mennonite Church of the US and Canada, that is involved in relief and reconciliation work. The MCC sent humanitarian assistance to the Iranian Red Crescent in 1990, after an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.7 struck northwest Iran, killing 35,000 people. The relationship has continued, with aid sent to help in later earthquakes and to assist Iraqi refugees in Iran.

The MCC's student exchanges with Iran, aimed at building people-to-people contacts and encouraging dialogue between American and Iranian citizens, began in 1998 and was modeled after a similar program that existed in Eastern European countries during the cold war.

Seldom has there been a time when dialogue between ordinary Americans and Iranians been more vital. The Shellenbergers' stay in Iran has encompassed not only the Sept. 11 attacks on America, but the US-led wars against two of Iran's immediate Muslim neighbors, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite perceptions to the contrary in the West, Iranians are far less anti-American than many of their counterparts in Arab countries whose governments are allied to the US, say some familiar with the Middle East. Surveys show more than 70 percent of Iranians favor restoring diplomatic ties with Washington, which were severed more than two decades ago.

But this is no surprise for the Shellenbergers. "The [Iranian] people are wonderful. They are hospitable, friendly, and helpful. They are sincere in their faith and I feel like they are brothers of mine," says Wally Shellenberger.

The simple life favored by Mennonites, has made Qom less of a culture shock for exchange students such as the Shellenbergers. That alcohol is forbidden in Iran, for instance, is no problem for Mennonites, who do not drink either.

Not that the Shellenbergers lead Spartan lives in Qom. Like other MCC volunteers working abroad, they intended to live like people in their host country, but the Iranian institute where they study was responsible for their accommodation and provided it in style. Home has been a spacious apartment with ornate ceilings.

The couple spent most of their first year and a half learning Farsi. This was followed by reading through the Koran with a professor at the Imam Khomeini Institute of Education and Research, where they attend some four sessions a week. Their learning is reinforced by much reading on their own. Wally Shellenberger is currently devouring the works of Hafiz, a 14th-century Sufi mystic and Iran's great medieval lyric poet.

Evelyn Shellenberger does not mind wearing the mandatory head scarf and long coat but has never become comfortable in the chador, an all-encompassing garment worn by devout or conservative Iranian women, that she is required to wear on visits to the institute. The word chador literally means tent. "It's more of a cumbersome thing to wear and it doesn't have any buttons," her husband explains.

Qom was not their first experience of a culture strikingly different from that of the Midwest. In the late 1960s, the Shellenbergers spent four years as medical volunteers in a hospital in Biafra, the short-lived secessionist state in Nigeria where at least 1 million people died of famine during civil warfare. The couple believe Christians could learn from the Islam they have come to know in Iran. There is more family stability in the Islamic Republic and less personal selfishness, he says.

Ordinary Iranians are surprised when they discover the Shellenbergers have chosen to learn about Islam in Qom in order to foster a better understanding of the faith back home.

Some Iranians ask if they intend to convert to Islam. "No," Mr. Shellenberger tells them politely, adding: "In understanding Islam better, it helps me be a better Christian."
17 posted on 01/20/2004 10:13:47 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Oil to Constitute 97 % Of Iran's Income from Nat'l Wealth Sale

January 20, 2004
Asia Pulse

TEHRAN -- Oil and related products are expected to constitute 97 per cent of the state revenues from the sale of national wealth and assets, according to the budget drafted for the next Iranian fiscal year (to start on March 21).

The Plan and Budget Studies Department at the Majlis Research Center in an analytical report on next year`s budget bill said that oil and related products will bring in a revenue of about rls 147 trillion (US$18.6 billion) next year.

The report said the figure will reach rls 250.008 trillion if the revenue, earned from domestic oil sale, is also included in the portion -- an amount which exceeds general budget income. It said government`s income from the sale of financial assets, namely cash drawing from the Forex Reserve Fund, privatization of state-run institutions and firms, borrowing, and sale of participation bonds, is expected to stand at about rls 77.594 trillion, showing a growth of 20.9 per cent compared to the figure for this year.

The draft budget stipulates a cash drawing to the tune of rls 43.612 trillion out of the Forex Reserve Fund, a revenue of rls 2 trillion from the privatization of the state-run institutions and firms, rls 1.888 trillion foreign borrowing and an asset of rls 8.5 trillion from the sale of participation bonds next year. President Mohammad Khatami presented the draft budget for the Iranian year starting March 2004 to the Majlis last month.

The roughly US$127 billion budget was based on minimum economic growth of 7.3 per cent in a bid to reduce unemployment, which stood at 12.8 per cent in the first six months of 2003. The draft budget envisages oil revenues of about US$16 billion, calculated at the rate of US$19.5 per barrel.
18 posted on 01/20/2004 10:15:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
General Grilled in Pakistan Nuclear Secrets Scandal

January 20, 2004
Irish Independent
Zahid Hussainin

A maverick Pakistani general who allegedly tried to sell nuclear technology to Iran for $12bn was being questioned last night.

General Aslam Beg was held after Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of the Pakistaninuclear programme, told investigators during a debriefing that nuclear co-operation with Iran was authorised by the senior army officer.

General Beg, one of a number of senior officers with Islamist sympathies, was the Chief of Army Staff from 1988-1991, the period during which the country's nuclear secrets were allegedly passed on to Iran. He is reported to have tried to persuade the civilian governments in power during that period to transfer nuclear technology in return for the money that Iran was allegedly prepared to pay and which would have underwritten the Pakistani military budget. The government rejected the offer.

Pakistani authorities have also detained eight other officials linked with its nuclearweapons laboratory. Major Islamul Haq, a close aide and principal staff officer to Dr Khan, was detained by two intelligence officials while dining at Dr Khan's house. The authorities are also questioning two more senior scientists in the latest sweep. Pakistani intelligence officials last month questioned Dr Khan and at least three other scientists, who had keyroles in the Pakistan nuclear test of 1998. Seven scientists have now been detained.

Masood Khan, a Foreign Ministry official, said: "There is no presumption of guilt; it is probable that some of these people would be cleared."

Pakistani authorities deny any involvement in the proliferation of nuclear technology but admit that some scientists "motivated by greed" might have sold nuclear secrets.
19 posted on 01/20/2004 10:16:36 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Straw Discusses Iran with France and Germany

January 20, 2004

LONDON -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has met his French and German counterparts to discuss Iran and other issues. Straw hosted Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer at Chevening, his official country residence outside London late on Monday, officials said.

"The foreign ministers had a private, informal meeting at Chevening to discuss Iran" and other topics on which they have been "actively engaged", a Foreign Office spokesman said on Tuesday.

"They will continue to keep in touch on a regular basis as they will with other EU colleagues," he said.

Rumours of the meeting had circulated on Monday night but none of the three governments would confirm it, fuelling speculation of a new diplomatic initiative.

The three foreign ministers travelled to Tehran late last year to persuade Iran to comply fully with international demands over its nuclear programme.

Diplomats said that intervention signalled a willingness to try and bury sharp differences between London, Paris and Berlin over the war in Iraq.

Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder are due to hold a summit next month.
20 posted on 01/20/2004 10:17:49 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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