Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- May 23, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 05/22/2004 9:04:06 PM PDT 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. Most Americans 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. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
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.
It seems the way the media reports it isn't what people from Iran who are here tell you. I believe the Persians over the media which seems to be leaving out an awful lot of news that doesn't fit their agenda.
You Got It!
Perhaps someone can post the differences between these candidates (and the similarities).
LOL! Like it Matters!
Actually it does. The key thing is who got the support from Rafsanjani and who is supported by the Revolutionary Guards.
Well, Rafsanjani's support will go to himself as soon as he announces he's in the running.
Follow the money.
Iran Tells US to Pull Out of Iraq
May 23, 2004
The Iranian foreign ministry has sent a warning message to the US, criticising its policy in Iraq. A spokesman said Iran wanted "the departure of the occupation forces as quickly as possible and the restitution of authority to the Iraqi people".
Iran, a Shia republic, is worried by fighting in holy cities such as Najaf and Karbala in neighbouring Iraq.
Around 400 people also took part in a protest against the Iraq occupation outside the UK embassy in Tehran.
Demonstrators chanted slogans demanding the closure of the UK embassy and expulsion of the British ambassador from Iran.
About 100 of them repeatedly tried to rush the police lines but they were heavily outnumbered by the security forces, the BBC 's Jim Muir reports from Tehran.
Some stones and firecrackers were thrown at the embassy compound, which has become a focal point for demonstrators angered by what they see as the violation of Shia holy places in Iraq.
But there was more violence at a demonstration on Wednesday, when petrol bombs were thrown.
Sympathy for militant
Iran issued its warning through the Swiss embassy, as its diplomatic ties with the US have been severed.
The foreign ministry said Iraq's Shia should take their lead from their senior religious leaders.
Our correspondent says that while Iran has officially thrown its weight behind the moderate cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, some hardline elements appear to have a good deal of sympathy for the younger and more militant Moqtada Sadr.
Spying allegations denied
In a separate development, Iran has denied that it received confidential information from Ahmed Chalabi, a senior member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
However, Iran did acknowledge it had a "continuous and permanent dialogue" with Mr Chalabi, who faces allegations of passing US secrets to Tehran.
Mr Chalabi was previously tipped for high office by senior figures in the Pentagon, but has fallen out of favour since reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction provided by his informants have proved to be unfounded.
Iran Sends Diplomatic Warning to U.S. Over Iraq
May 23, 2004
The New York Times
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran said Sunday it had sent a formal message of warning to the United States about its actions in neighboring Iraq.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also denied suggestions made by some U.S. officials in recent days that Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi had passed sensitive U.S. intelligence about Iraq to Iran.
``We have warned the Americans about Iraq,'' Asefi told a weekly news conference. ``It is natural for two countries which do not have diplomatic relations to exchange messages.''
Asefi did not comment on the contents of the warning, but officials and religious leaders in Shi'ite Muslim Iran have expressed outrage in recent weeks about the presence of U.S.-led forces in the holy Shi'ite Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
Asefi said the diplomatic message was sent via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran. Washington broke ties with Iran in 1980.
Asefi described as ``baseless'' accusations made by unnamed U.S. officials in some U.S. media that Chalabi -- whose Baghdad headquarters were raided by U.S. troops and Iraqi police last week -- had leaked information to Iran that the officials said could ``get Americans killed.''
``We have not received any classified information, neither from Chalabi nor any member of the Iraqi Governing Council,'' he said.
``What is going on between us and members of the Iraqi Governing Council and all groups in Iraq is negotiation, the exchange of views and clear and transparent cooperation.''
Asefi said the accusations against Chalabi, a former favorite of the Pentagon, were part of an effort to deflect attention away from Washington's problems in Iraq.
``The Americans have in recent months lied about several issues and failed to prove them,'' he said. ``It seems that lying is becoming institutionalized in American policy.
Iran Petrol Prices Must Be Raised, Says Official
May 23, 2004
TEHRAN -- Gas-guzzling Iran, where subsidised petrol is cheaper than mineral water, must lift prices at the pump to global levels, a senior state oil company official was quoted as saying yesterday.
The call by Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, Executive Director of the National Iranian Oil Company, is in line with a proposal in the country's next five-year economic plan, beginning in March, that seeks to make Iran's motorists pay realistic prices.
"We are allocating huge subsidies to fuel imports and that is not good," he was quoted as saying on the oil ministry web site (www.shana.ir).
"Many are worried that petrol prices may reach a global level but that is the only solution," he added.
Although Iran is Opec's second-biggest crude producer it lacks the refinery capacity to satisfy its motorists.
Iran traditionally spends about 10 per cent of its gross domestic product on subsidising fuel.
The retail price of petrol is currently around $0.10 cents per litre, compared with $0.52 in the United States and well over $1 in many European countries.
Ghanimifard said 26 million litres of the 60 million litres of petrol burned every day were imported.
He added Iran's latest budget plans had massively underestimated how much fuel imports would cost.
The national budget earmarked about $1.34bn for importing petrol in the year from March 2004, but the official said this would only cover six months.
He predicted demand soaring to 26 million litres per day in the three months from March 2004, leaping from 16 million litres per day in the same period last year.
Opec nations say scorching oil prices have been fired by political tension in the Middle East and refinery problems in the United States, arguing the market is oversupplied.
Iran raised petrol prices 23 per cent in March and Iranians have complained of knock-on inflation hitting everyday goods.
Some parliamentarians have argued lifting petrol prices to global levels next year will stoke up rampant inflation.
Parliament has approved raising the price to about 25 cents gradually from March 2005 but the legislation still needs to be approved by a hardline constitutional watchdog.
Ontario Sharia Tribunals Assailed
May 22, 2004
Had she stayed in Iran, Homa Arjomand would now be dead. All all of the women's activists she worked with in Tehran have been executed, victims of a reactionary regime that ruled, and continues to rule, by strict adherence to Islam's sharia law.
In 1989, she and her husband paid $15,000 to smugglers to help them and their two young children flee the country.
For three days, they rode on horseback through the mountains, sleeping in barns before finally reaching Turkey.
Two years later, the onetime professor of medical physics arrived in Canada as a refugee. And how grateful she was to be in a secular country, where female equality was the law.
That was then.
Last fall, Arjomand, now a transitional counsellor in Toronto for immigrant women, heard the province had quietly approved the use of Islamic law in Ontario's Muslim community.
A group she'd never heard of, called the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice, had gained the right to hold tribunals, darul qada, in which marriage, family and business disputes can be settled according to sharia.
The 1,300-year-old body of laws and rules for living was inspired by the Qur'an, Islam's holy book.
Arjomand was horrified.
"The last thing I expected in Canada, the last thing I want, is sharia law," she says. "Women are not equal under it, therefore it is opposed to Canada's laws and values. The government can't let this happen."
The government has no intention of stopping it.
Muslims can't be excluded from Ontario's 1991 Arbitration Act, which allows religious groups to resolve family disputes, says the attorney-general's office. Hassidic Jews have been running their own Beit Din arbitrations based on Jewish law for years. Catholics, too, even Ismaili Muslims. Rulings are binding, but must be consistent with Canadian laws and the Charter of Rights.
"There are safeguards built into the act," says Brendan Crawley, the attorney-general's spokesperson, who has been fielding calls from the world's press on the unprecedented decision.
"Participation must be voluntary by both parties and there is recourse if a decision doesn't abide by Canadian law. They can appeal to the courts."
Arjomand has heard all this and doesn't buy a word of it.
Now head of the new International Campaign To Stop Sharia Courts in Canada, she and representatives from several concerned groups met last month with senior staff at the attorney-general's office and with Sandra Pupatello, the minister responsible for women's issues.
Arjomand told them flatly that under the guise of protecting religious freedom and multiculturalism the fear, perhaps, of offending the Muslim community's male leadership they were about to let the rights of Canadian Muslim women be trampled on.
Most at risk are young immigrants, said Arjomand, who come from the Middle East or North Africa, where sharia is the law and has been used to subjugate them their entire lives. They know nothing different.
Now that sharia tribunals are to operate here, she says, many women will be socially and psychologically coerced into participating. To refuse would mean rejection by their families and the community or worse.
"In a straight disagreement between a husband and wife, the husband's testimony will prevail. That is sharia. Even those women who know they can appeal will not challenge an arbitration decision for fear of the consequences."
Despite what the attorney-general's office blithely assumes, she says, it's unlikely decisions contrary to Canadian law will ever show up before the courts.
Sharia-approved but illegal activities already occur in Toronto, and she fears this will give strength to them. Muslim women are battered but don't dare report it. Bigamous marriages occur. Among her clients are two 14-year-old girls who were married last year to older men, in defiance of Ontario law prohibiting marriage before age 16.
"This is child abuse, sexual abuse," Arjomand says scathingly. "These girls were born in Canada. I want to tell them to leave and get them into group homes, but if they do they'll be disavowed and isolated."
In a May 7 letter to Arjomand, John Gregory, general counsel to the attorney-general, acknowledged "the oppression that some Muslim women experience in Canada."
But that was not reason to deny the Islamic Institute the right to use the Arbitration Act.
"The family or community pressure that prevents (a woman) from going to court to dispute an arbitration seems likely to prevent her from going to court to assert her legal rights even without an arbitration."
Moreover, he added, "you may be asking us to find a legal remedy for what is mainly a cultural or possibly religious problem. So far it is not clear to us what legal remedy would be effective and constitutional."
Arjomand is now meeting with lawyers to see if they can find a remedy. A campaign Web site petition to halt the tribunals before they begin has already collected 2,056 names.
Alia Hogben, Indian-born president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, says she got the same "nothing we can do" response after meeting with Gregory. And a council letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty was "sloughed off."
"We've consulted scholars and they tell us we can't accept this," says the retired social worker. "Everyone in the world is looking at Canada. A precedent can't be set. We can't give in."
Hogben dismisses the province's claim that Ismaili Muslims (followers of the Aga Khan) have used private arbitration for years without problem and therefore why shouldn't the rest of the community. As she dryly points out, "Ismailis don't use the sharia in their arbitrations."
The women's council's 900 members come from all Islamic sects: Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Wahhabi, Somali and Ismaili. "It is difficult for us to speak out because we are practising, pro-faith Muslims who don't want to provide ammunition to those who malign Islam."
But they feel they must, she says, because the equality of the sexes espoused by the Qur'an is not reflected in the sharia the laws that evolved over 200 years following the death of Mohammad in 632 AD.
"We see this as a women's equality issue," Hogben says. "Women are afraid they will not be `good' Muslims if they don't go along with it or that they'll be accused of blasphemy. Why, why is it happening?"
She answers her own question with another question: "Is it because the government doesn't want to be seen as anti-Muslim? But this is anti-women. Why should we be treated differently from other Canadian women?"
The international rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws has warned that secular states like Canada must be careful not to fall into the trap of not interfering in old-world traditions out of misguided sensitivity. Trying to avoid discrimination against a whole group, it says, can lead to discrimination against its female members.
Like Arjomand, Hogben resents the contention of the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice and its head, Mumtaz Ali, that sharia arbitrations are an expression of Canada's multicultural ethos.
"It's a false argument," she says. "Multiculturalism was never meant to take away the equality rights of a group, in this case Muslim women."
Adeena Niazi, executive director of the Afghan Women's Organization, is "in between" on the issue. If it's applied correctly, Islamic law will be of benefit to women, she says, "but there has always been misinterpretation and misuse under the sharia, and women deprived of their rights."
Niazi grew up in an Afghanistan that had an Islamic constitution in which women were educated and had careers. Only when the warlords and ultimately the Taliban seized power, she says, were sharia laws used to persecute women. She fled in 1988.
The majority of Canada's 600,000 Muslims more than half live in Ontario are recent arrivals. Niazi says they often don't speak the language, don't know the laws, certainly know nothing about equal rights.
"We see women who are beaten and who take it because they are afraid of the community. That's the reality."
Many in the Muslim community, men included, don't see how the arbitration tribunals can possibly work. Sharia differs among various sects and countries of origin. An interpretation in one country is unacceptable in another. In 2002, many Muslims around the world were outraged, for instance, when a Nigerian sharia court sentenced a woman found guilty of adultery to be stoned to death. After a global protest, the Nigerian high court overturned the ruling.
"Which model will be used?" asks a male critic, Mubin Shaikh. "There is too much division in the community for this to work. Sharia is complex. Wahhabis Muslims won't go to a Sunni arbitrator and so on."
The whole contentious idea of private sharia courts belongs to Mumtaz Ali, a retired Indian-born lawyer, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims and founder of the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice.
Ali has been working since 1991 to find a way for Muslims to fully practise their faith in secular Canada, to be able to follow the sharia, which is required if they are to be devout.
"Living by religious law is our whole life," he says. In facilitating that, "the Ontario government is the most enlightened in the world. This is the multiculturalism of my friend Pierre Trudeau."
The existence of sects with varying interpretations of Islamic law isn't a concern because the model to be used is a "Canadianized sharia," he says.
"It will be a watered-down sharia, not 100 per cent sharia. Only those provisions that agree with Canadian laws will be used. If there is a conflict between the two, Canadian law will prevail."
(To critics, his remarks are confusingly at odds with an article written for the Calgary Herald in January by Syed Soharwardy, a founding member of the Islamic Institute, in which he wrote: "Sharia cannot be customized for specific countries. These universal, divine laws are for all people of all countries for all times.")
Yes, Ali is aware that many Muslim women fear females will not be treated equally. They are wrong, he says: "That issue will not arise."
He thinks they're afraid because they don't understand how the tribunals will work; indeed, few people do because details haven't been released.
Ali says there will usually be two arbitrators hearing a dispute; one an expert on Canadian marriage, divorce and family laws, the other a sharia expert. If necessary, a third will act as umpire. They all will have access to a raft of Islamic scholars.
Initially, arbitrators will come from a panel of about 15 lay people, not all of whom will be Muslim. One, he says, is a retired Ontario judge and non-Muslim. Few imams will be used, however, because "they are not qualified academically."
Most will have taken a course on the arbitration process (which differs from mediation, in which parties reach their own agreement). Ali says this training accounts for the delay in getting the tribunals going.
Husbands and wives will each have their own lawyer in attendance, he stresses, and arbitrators will be duty-bound to ensure no party is being pressured to take part or to accept a ruling.
In any event, "that does not happen here," he says. "It happens in Egypt, in other countries, but not Canada. No one will be pressured. People think we're bringing in Taliban law. Not so. No one is going to be stoned to death or have their hands cut off."
As he notes, "the Charter of Rights doesn't allow for cruel and unusual punishment."
After speaking to a Muslim women's group in Edmonton this week, Ali was asked why women should go near a sharia arbitration when their rights are covered by Canadian courts. "To be a good Muslim you must," he told them.
But it is also in women's own interests, he says. Just as Canadian law allows for prenuptial agreements, sharia offers marriage contracts. As an example, he says a woman could ask for the right of divorce normally belonging only to men to be transferred to her. Sharia also provides for her dowry to be returned to her.
Critics are welcome to monitor any arbitration appearing as "a friend of the court" if they think the rights of women will be violated, he adds.
This will come as news to the Council of Muslim Women, which was not informed that the arbitration tribunals were in the works, not asked for its views, nor to make recommendations. As far as it knows, the arbitrations will be private.
"It would have been in Mumtaz Ali's interest to consult women's groups," says Annie Bunting, director of York University's law and society department.
"Yes, Canadian laws will trump the sharia, on the books at least. But what impact will these tribunals have on women's lives?"
That's the question being asked by Muslim women living in Canada a decade or more. A Halifax woman called Alia Hogben to say that if the tribunals come to pass, she will no longer consider herself a Muslim.
Homa Arjomand no longer does, not after what happened to the women of Iran and almost to her under its draconian regime. She believes passionately that state and religion must be kept separate despite Canada's well-intentioned allegiance to multiculturalism.
"Your beliefs should stay in your home, in your mosque, your church, your temple. We should remain a secular country with no separate rules for some groups, not when they discriminate against women."
Iran denies Chalabi spying accusations
AP ^ | 23 May 2004 | Staff
Posted on 05/23/2004 5:35:38 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
Edited on 05/23/2004 5:56:00 AM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
These guys are all hardliners and terrorism supporters!
UK Embassy Under Repeated Attack as Iran Vents Anger Over Iraq
May 23, 2004
Agence France Presse
TEHRAN -- The British embassy here came under attack by stonethrowing protestors Sunday for the fourth day in a week, as Iranian opponents of the US-led occupation of neighbouring Iraq vented their fury on the key coalition partner in the absence of a US mission in Tehran.
Hundreds of police formed a cordon a block away to prevent the 400 or so student demonstrators approaching the embassy compound.
But at least two powerful firecrackers exploded against the building as a steady hail of stones breached the defences to rain home the message of anger, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
"Close the embassy," "Send home the lacky envoy," chanted the protestors, marshalled by members of the Basij volunteer militia, an alternative police force controlled by the regime's hardliners.
"We'll take the White House from (President George W.) Bush, the Kremlin from the Russians and Downing Street from the British, we only need orders from the guide," a cleric speaking from a podium by loudspeaker told the crowd, referring to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.
"We want the United Nations to condemn the attacks against the holy places .. and set a date for the withdrawal of the occupying forces from Najaf and Karbala," said a statement circulated by the protest's organizers.
Shiite Islam is the majority denomination in Iran as it is in Iraq and the twin Iraqi shrine cities are widely revered here.
The demonstrators also took the US-led coalition to task for the abuses inflicted by its troops on detainees in Iraqi prisons, demanding that US and British leaders appear on television to "formally apologise to Muslims".
The Iranian foreign ministry said every reasonable precaution had been taken to protect the British embassy but insisted nothing could be done to limit the right of free assembly.
"Our police did a good job," said ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi, adding: "Iran is a country where people have the right to express themselves freely."
There have been repeated violent protests outside the British embassy here over the past week -- on Wednesday petrol bombs were hurled at the compound's perimeter wall.
But Asefi insisted the rallies' negative impact on relations with London was being "exaggerated".
"Even the British say there are no big problems," he said.
The British embassy here has been a particular target for demonstrators because there is no US mission.
The United States has had no embassy in Tehran since 1980. Washington broke off relations after radical students seized the mission and took its staff hostage in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution the previous year.
Iranian Students Demand UK Ambassador Be Slapped
May 23, 2004
The Associated Press
TEHRAN -- About 500 students called the British Embassy in Tehran a "house of corruption" on Sunday and demanded that U.K. ambassador be slapped in the face for his country's involvement in the occupation of neighboring Iraq.
Surrounded by riot police, the students gathered in front of the British Embassy in central Tehran to condemn damage to a Shiite Muslim shrine in Iraq caused by fighting between U.S.-led forces and insurgents, as well as abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
"We want the Foreign Ministry to summon the British ambassador and literally slap him in the face, the same way Americans and British treat Iraqi Muslims," a student leader said over the loudspeaker.
The students vowed to seize the British Embassy if Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would allow them to do so.
The protesters burned U.S. and U.K. flags as they chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Britain," and called on the Iranian government to close down the British Embassy and expel its ambassador.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday that expulsion of the British ambassador was not on Iran's agenda.
All staged for the cameras since these are Khameini's hired help.
"These guys are all hardliners and terrorism supporters!"
I guess those would be the similarities. LOL!
Let Freedom Ring ~ Bump!