Spotlight on Iran
Spotlight on Iran
Spotlight on Iran
Spotlight on Iran
Hossein Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Debate on spread of “Valentine phenomenon” among young
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Highlights of the week
Conservative press criticizes president’s willingness to agree
to Western uranium enrichment proposal
The conservative daily Keyhan, known for its normally pro-Ahmadinejad views, criticized last weekend the president’s statement on the Western proposal to exchange enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. In an interview granted last Tuesday to Iranian TV, President Ahmadinejad said that his country was willing to exchange enriched uranium for nuclear fuel and that Iran had nothing to lose if the exchange were to take place on the territory of another country. Various elements in the West saw Ahmadinejad’s announcement as a sign of concession on the Western proposal submitted to Iran several months ago. Early this week President Ahmadinejad instructed the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization to start the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent.
In an editorial titled "How can you be so sure?” Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of Keyhan, expressed his reservations about the president’s statement. While the Western proposal, according to the editorial, does reflect a withdrawal from the West’s long-standing refusal to acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium, it is also a trap designed to rob Iran of its achievements in the field of uranium enrichment. Even opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi objected to the proposal that Iran should hand over its enriched uranium to the West.
The editor-in-chief of Keyhan criticized the president’s claim that should the West refuse to provide Iran with nuclear fuel in exchange for enriched uranium, it would be proof that the IAEA could not be trusted. Is it not already clear, Shariatmadari asked, that in the past seven years the IAEA time and again failed to meet its obligations towards Iran in accordance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and that it could not, therefore, be trusted? Was not the Iranian nuclear issue referred to the Security Council, despite the IAEA’s assertion that there was no proof that Iran’s nuclear activity was not meant for peace? The IAEA and the 5+1 countries proved on dozens or perhaps hundreds various occasions that they were not committed to international treaties. Does the president have any doubt that they cannot be trusted, to the point of being willing to agree to a dangerous proposal that may result in the loss of Iran’s nuclear achievements (Keyhan, February 6).
Ahmadinejad visits an Iranian laser technology fair, February 7
The conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami also had reservations about the president’s statement, and called on the West not to construe President Ahmadinejad’s words as a withdrawal from Iran’s stance, even though his statement was not perfectly clear.
An editorial published by the daily, affiliated with Expediency Discernment Council chairman Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, stressed that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had already clearly rejected the West’s proposal on transferring 75 percent of Iran’s enriched uranium to Russia and France in order to convert it to nuclear fuel for the operation of the research nuclear reactor in Tehran. According to the daily, Khamenei agreed to convert the enriched uranium only if the following three conditions were met: a simultaneous exchange of Iran’s enriched uranium for the nuclear fuel, performing the conversion on Iranian territory, and giving Iran the final say on the amount of uranium it would transfer to the West according to its needs.
The daily noted that those conditions were set by the Supreme Leader to keep Iran from falling into the trap laid for it by the West. The West would like to remove 75 percent of Iran’s enriched uranium from its possession so that it can subsequently take action against it in accordance with Western interests. The Supreme Leader has realized that the West cannot be trusted or allowed to take Iran hostage and make it difficult for Iran to operate even the research reactor in Tehran, which is used for medical purposes.
Jomhuri-ye Eslami implicitly criticized Ahmadinejad’s statement, saying the West should realize that the exclusive authority on forming comprehensive policy and making decisions on the nuclear policy rested with the Supreme Leader. The statements of other elements, even if clear, have no influence on and do not reflect the position of the regime. The West believes that Iran is backing down from its stance and it is now formulating a new plan to impose further sanctions against it, erroneously believing that its weakness can be used to wring more concessions. The US and its allies ignore the reality, which is that Iran is at the height of its power and that its interests are non-negotiable. The West had better realize that hoping for Iran to back down from its position about the nuclear program was just a delusion, concluded Jomhuri-ye Eslami (February 6).
The criticism on the president’s statement was also joined by the daily Resalat. In an editorial published on February 7, the conservative newspaper expressed its regret over Ahmadinejad’s statement, who had formerly expressed courage and daring with regard to the effort to achieve scientific independence in the field of nuclear technology. The government and the people must take an aggressive approach towards the West, which uses the language of threats and sanctions against Iran. Iran’s nuclear needs, particularly those of the research reactor in Tehran, must be secured through Iranian scientists, while the promises of other countries must not be counted on. The government must not return to the policy of compromise attempted by the reform government (headed by Mohammad Khatami, 1997-2005), said the article.
Meanwhile, Majles speaker Ali Larijani also expressed criticism this week over the West’s proposal to exchange enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. In a speech given at a convention in the University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Larijani said that the Western proposal was designed to deceive Iran and rob it of its enriched uranium (Fars, February 6).
"Khomeini’s legacy” once again subject of political controversy
between government supporters and critics
A controversy which broke out this week after fragments from a speech by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic revolution, were aired on Iran’s TV, was yet another example of using Khomeini’s legacy as an instrument for political debate and for the rationalization of various and even contradictory ideological worldviews.
The controversy was sparked after the broadcast of a documentary called Shakhes ("Criterion”) about Khomeini’s life. The documentary was shown on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution, and it included fragments from a speech made by Khomeini in 1981 in which he instructed the security forces to suppress political processions which did not have the authorization of the Ministry of the Interior.
After the documentary was aired, Hassan Khomeini, the revolution leader’s grandson who is in recent years associated with the reformist camp, wrote a strong-worded letter to the director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ezzatollah Zarghami, claiming that the documentary had misrepresented Khomeini. According to Hassan Khomeini, the documentary ignored the unique conditions which prevailed in Iran at the time of Khomeini’s speech, and it was therefore a misrepresentation of history and of Khomeini. Khomeini called on the IRIB director to invite the people close to his grandfather to the show to clarify the circumstances in which Khomeini had made that statement (ISNA, February 7). Khomeini’s announcement was fiercely condemned by government supporters, mainly the editor-in-chief of Keyhan, Hossein Shariatmadari. In an editorial published in Keyhan, the editor-in-chief of the daily strongly criticized the statement made by the grandson of the revolution leader, wondering why he was disturbed by the broadcast of his grandfather’s announcements on the way to deal with regime opponents. According to Shariatmadari, the documentary presented Khomeini’s views on the crimes of the US, Israel, and such terrorist groups as Mojahedin-e Khalq, as well as his position on the connection between regime opponents, including members of the Baha’i faith and the oppositionist Freedom Movement, and the US and Israel. Those statements represent Khomeini’s legacy on the need to fight regime opponents. Does not Hassan Khomeini share his grandfather’s views, does he not consider the US, Israel, the Mojahedin-e Khalq and the Baha’is as enemies of Islam, or, God forbid, does he support the offense to the Shi’ite Imam Hossein by regime opponents during the Ashura riots? Clearly, that is not so, Shariatmadari wrote, and it is therefore unclear why he has reservations about the broadcast of Khomeini’s speech. According to Keyhan’s editor-in-chief, it is obvious that the leaders of incitement and Western intelligence organizations which support that incitement are worried about the broadcast of the speech and the exposure of Khomeini’s views on regime opponents and on their connection with foreign elements in the West; however, there is no reason Hassan Khomeini should be worried about that. Shariatmadari even asked Khomeini to specify who are the "sources” that, according to him, provided him with information about the contents of the documentary shown on Iranian TV so that their role in the riots which took place in Iran in recent months could be exposed. That is particularly relevant given the unfortunate contact which, according to Shariatmadari, Hassan Khomeini held in recent months with senior reformist opposition figures (Keyhan, February 8).
Hossein Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
The IRIB director also commented on Khomeini’s letter. In a reply sent to Khomeini, Zarghami rejected Khomeini’s claims, and wondered why he had not expressed criticism also regarding the events that had taken place in Iran during the last eight months and regarding the offense caused by the enemies of Islam and the revolution to the foundations of the regime and the legacy of Imam Khomeini (Fars, February 8).
The scandal caused by the documentary about Khomeini’s life on Iranian TV is yet another example of the increasing use of the revolution founder’s legacy to justify various worldviews as the debate heats up between Iran’s various political and religious factions on the future and character of the Islamic republic. It should be mentioned that outrage was sparked in December 2009 when Iranian TV aired a short video from the Student Day demonstrations showing demonstrators defacing the portrait of Khomeini. The segment triggered strong exchanges of accusations between government supporters and elements associated with the reformist opposition, with both sides claiming it was an affront to Khomeini.
Debate on spread of "Valentine phenomenon” among young
Iranians reemerges ahead of Valentine’s Day
As Valentine’s Day approaches (February 14), the debate on whether it is an appropriate holiday for the Islamic republic has once again reemerged in Iran.
Even though it is a Western tradition, in recent years Valentine’s Day has penetrated into Iran and is mostly celebrated in the big cities, where young people throng malls, shopping centers, and cafés, buying presents and wishing each other Happy Valentine’s.
The "Valentine phenomenon” is perceived by many in the religious establishment as an expression of a moral and social crisis experienced by Iran’s younger generation, and a challenge to Iranian and Islamic identity. However, in recent years large portions of Iran’s society have grown to realize that the phenomenon represents an actual need of young Iranians and that it can no longer be ignored or combated without providing alternative solutions. Therefore, even elements associated with the conservative camp called to adopt national Iranian and even pre-Islamic traditions to satisfy the needs and desires of the younger generation. One of the suggestions was to adopt Esfandgan Day, the day of love in Zoroastrian tradition (marked on February 17) as a substitute to Valentine’s Day.
Farda, a website affiliated with the pragmatic conservative camp, expressed this week its discontent over the penetration of Valentine’s Day into Iranian culture, claiming that it was incompatible with Iranian identity.
In an interview granted to the website by Behrouz Ja’fari, member of the Majles Culture Committee, he criticized the inability of culture officials to deal with the phenomenon, saying that its spread was the result of their failure to establish Islamic and Iranian culture as a substitute for new cultural phenomena, taking into consideration the social and cultural conditions of our time.
According to Ja’fari, the phenomenon is yet another expression of the foreign cultural attack and the domination of Western culture in Iran’s various cultural and social spheres. He noted that the young people cannot be held entirely responsible, seeing as they lack alternative role models and use those they have available. The young people are prone to adopting Western beliefs since they are not aware enough of Iran’s national achievements. Ja’fari claimed that satellite TV networks and the increase in the age of marriage are two of the most important factors contributing to the spread of the "Valentine phenomenon” among young Iranians.
He added that the media and IRIB had an important part to play with regard to the matter, and that they had to formulate appropriate programs that would keep youngsters from imitating the West. Those in charge of culture must reinforce observance days and media efforts to find a substitute for the young people. Ja’fari suggested turning the marriage anniversary of the Shi’ite Imam Ali and the Prophet’s daughter, Fatemeh, into a "love day” in Iran as a worthy substitute for the youngsters (Farda, February 7).
Marjan Kalhor: first Iranian female athlete to compete in Winter Olympics
For the first time since Iran first took part in the Winter Olympics of 1956, a female Iranian athlete will take part in the games. Skier Marjan Kalhor will represent Iran in the Winter Olympics due to begin on February 12 in Vancouver, Canada.
Kalhor, 21, started skiing at the age of four and won a bronze medal at an international ski championship held in Turkey when she was sixteen. Being the first woman to represent Iran in the Winter Olympics, she will also have the honor of carrying the Iranian flag during the opening ceremony. The Iranian delegation to the Winter Olympics this year consists of four athletes.
Issa Saveh Shemshaki, the chairman of Iran Ski Federation, recently said in an interview to ISNA news agency that Kalhor’s participation in the Winter Olympics was a source of pride for the women of Iran and an indication of their special status (ISNA, January 21).
In recent years, the participation of Iranian women in international sports events has been strongly criticized by Iran’s religious conservative circles. Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, the Friday prayer leader in the city of Mashhad, even ruled that the participation of women in games outside Iran was contradictory to Islamic religious law. On the eve of the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Marjan Kalhor stressed that she intended to adhere to the Islamic dress code for women throughout the games.
The Iranian delegation to the Summer Olympics held in Beijing in August 2008 included three women. At the opening ceremony of those games, the Iranian flag was also carried by a woman, Homa Hosseini, member of the rowing team.
Pictures of the week: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
gives a speech to Air Force commanders