The Supreme Leader's response? "One may look at the face, neck, head, and hands of non-Muslim women."
1730 GMT: International Affairs Expert Rahimi Update. The office of first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, who has provided some illumination with his recent entry into international affairs commentary (e.g., Australians are cattlemen and South Koreans should be slapped), has issued a clarification.
Rahimi, his staff explained was misquoted because of a "wrong translation" in his comments on "England": he meant to say that not all but only some British politicians are idiots.
1720 GMT: Surveillance and a Lawsuit. Detained journalist Isa Saharkhiz and his son Mehdi have filed a lawsuit in US Federal Court in Alexandria, Virginia against Nokia Siemens Networks and its parent companies Siemens AG and Nokia Inc., alleging human rights violations committed by the Iranian government through the aid of spying centres provided by Nokia Siemens Networks.
NEW Iran Document: Mohammad Khatami on Religion, the Islamic Revolution, and the Republic (15 August)
NEW Iran’s Battle Within: Ahmadinejad Appeals to Supreme Leader (Rafiee)
Iran Feature: Two Faces of Modernity (Vahdat)
Iran Latest (15 August): Revolutionary Guards’ “Election Tape”
1715 GMT: Parliament v. President (cont.). MP Ali Motahari, who has been amongst the leader of the challenge to President Ahmadinejad and his inner circle, has welcomed Sunday's meeting between Ahmadinejad and the heads of Parliament and the judiciary (see 0520 GMT), but he has complained that the Government is blocking files against some high-ranking officials, which might provide information on claims of corruption.
Motahari also coyly noted that some MPs accused him of "insults" against Ahmadinejad, when he only said, "The fact that the President does not recognize the law on metro allocations [Parliament had authorised $2 million for the Tehran metro but Ahmadinejad has refused to accept] opens the way to dictatorship." Motahari added, "I don't know how those handful of MPs who regularly humiliate the Majlis will answer to the people whom they are meant to represent."
1705 GMT: Rahnavard "Some in Iran Government Worse than Saddam". Appearing with her husband Mir Hossein Mousavi in a meeting with veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, Zahra Rahnavard
commented, "Unfortunately I should ask that, while you were in Iraqi prisons, did you even think that when you were freed from Saddam's prison, you would face the imprisonment of hundreds and even thousands of freedom seekers in your own country?"
This university professor referred to the complaint filed by seven senior reformist figures, all detained after the 2009 election, against military officials over last year's alleged manipulation of the vote:
Would you ever imagine that these seven freedom seekers, who I call them the seven warriors, would be imprisoned because they filed a complaint against the actions of the coup agents, while they could have filed their complaint in a just court and received a response with convincing reasons? But the government throws them in jail and does not know that this is the voice of the people, seeking justice and asking [where their votes went], that is raised by these seven brave ones in a form of a complaint. In any case, a part of the ruling power curses at Saddam, while they have treated the people worse than him.
1650 GMT: Parliament v. Ahmadinejad. Looks like the President's letter to the Supreme Letter (see separate entry) might be needed to stave off an appearance before Parliament.
Reformist MP Mohammad Reza Khabaz claims that there are now three independent but simultaneous moves by conservative factions to question Ahmadinejad: “The first move by the principlist members, which succeeded, came from the faction’s clergymen in the form of a collective warning to the President signed by 16 clerical members of the Parliament."
Khabbaz said a pro-government MP was also preparing the draft of a “critical” letter to Ahmadinejad regarding the behaviour of his aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. He claimed that the letter would ask Ahmadinejad about the reason behind his silence with respect to Mashai’s comments over Iran and Islam and his support for the controversial Chief of Staff. “I asked this MP who had been a staunch supporter of the government until two weeks ago, why was he in such a hurry to gather signatures for such a letter and he replied to me that ‘we want to do our duty and to prevent an even more radical by the parliament’. But this conservative MP only gave the letter to [his fellow] Principalist MPs to sign and did not allow the reformist MPs to join,” said Khabbaz.
Khabaz said that in a third move, the Majlis members were planning to sign a motion on calling for Ahmadinejad to be questioned over “the government’s recent acts against the law and its neglect of the parliament’s passed bills, as well as recent remarks made by Mashaei”. He described the three parallel moves against the coup government as “unprecedented” and said that conservative members in the Majlis were competing against one another in “warning and questioning” Ahmadinejad.
When asked about the number of signatories on the critical letter as well as the number of signatories to the motion to question Ahmadinejad, Khabaz said, “I am not aware of the number of signatures but there is great interest for this act and the MPs are still in the process of gathering signatures.”
A total of 74 MPs need to support the motion in order for the president to be questioned in parliament.
1640 GMT: Rumour of Day. Yet another video has been posted --- we have seen several in recent weeks --- of an alleged queue of Iranians for petrol/gasoline. This footage is supposedly from Karaj, Iran's fifth-largest city and just west of Tehran:
1635 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalemeh reports that leading student activist Majid Tavakoli, one of the 17 detainees who recently went on hunger strike --- has been transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison.
(English translation via Negar Irani)
1615 GMT: Nuclear Tough Talk. I return from vacation to find the non-Iranian media preoccupied with yet another round of sound and fury from Tehran. From Agence France Presse (quickly followed by Associated Press):
Iran is to start building its third uranium enrichment plant in early 2011, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signed a new law Monday binding Tehran to pursue the controversial work of refining uranium to 20 percent.
The law, Safeguarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's Peaceful Nuclear Achievements, had been passed by lawmakers last month and it also stipulates that Tehran limit its cooperation with the UN's nuclear watchdog, state news agency IRNA reported.
Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi told state television that the search for sites for 10 new uranium enrichment facilities "is in its final stages. The construction of one of these will begin by the end of the (current Iranian) year (to March 2011) or the start of next year, inshallah (God willing)."
Never mind that the Iranian Government has been chest-thumping about "10 new facilities" for almost a year. (Last September, the President was promising 20.) A simple re-statement is enough to start flutters in the "West".
AFP notes the response from the French Foreign Ministry: "We expect Iran to comply with its international obligations. This announcement only worsens the international community's serious concerns about Iran's nuclear programme."
1140 GMT: Nourizad’s "Last Letter" to the Supreme Leader. Mohammad Nourizad, the journalist and documentary maker, who was recently released on bail, has written his sixth and, he claims, last letter to Ayatollah Khamenei (see separate EA entries for earlier Nourizad letters).
The letter, posted on Nourizad's website, declares:
Oh Lord, in the time of Seyed Ali [Khamenei] as the Supreme Leader, the law and abiding the law by officials became insignificant and worthless. The favourite ones used the law as a ladder to climb up in power and gain opportunities. A miserable poor man is thrown into government’s prison over a million toman ($1000) unpaid debt, but the President, his Vice President, as well as some of their ministers and government managers who have taken billions in embezzlement and fraud, in a marathon of deceiving the people, brag about their shirt buttons close to their throats (a sign of being religious among the revolutionary officials) and laugh at the law and the people.
At the end of the letter, Nourizad urges the Supreme Leader, as he is getting to the end of the journey of life, to order the release of innocent political prisoners: this way he may make peace with the people and will not leave a bad name for himself in history.
1125 GMT: The Hunger Strike. Kalemeh reports that families of the 16 political prisoners who recently ended a hunger strike have again been denied visit permits, despite the reported promise of the Tehran Prosecutor General that contact would be restored. The website also claims the prisoners are being held incommunicado in solitary confinement in Ward 240.
0835 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Nima Bahador Behbahani has been released on bail. Aged 17 when he was arrested on Ashura (27 December), far from the protests, he was judged as an adult rather than a minor.
0820 GMT: Execution Watch (cont.). One hundred cities have now joined the campaign against stoning.
The interview by French philospher Bernard-Henri Levy of human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei (see earlier entry) has been posted in English on The Huffington Post.
Mostafaei says of his client Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death --- initially by stoning --- for adultery, "She is a symbol. She is the symbol of all Iranian women who are victims of the family, the society, of their discriminatory laws."
0810 GMT: Parliament v. President. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have written the Supreme Letter (see separate entry), but that has not settled matters. "Hardline" MP Assadollah Badamchian has daid the President has no authorisation to declare that a ratified law is not in force. Badamchian said Parliament must tell Ahmadinejad that laws endorsed by the Expediency Council, headed by Hashemi Rafsanjani, are legal.
0735 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. An international group of prominent writers, singers, actors, and activists have issued an appeal for the commutation of the death sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned for adultery.
French philosopher Bernard Henri Lévy has interviewed Ashtiani's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, now in forced exile in Norway.
Feresteh Ghazi, interviewing an attorney involved in the cases, writes that four other women face stoning or other means of execution.
0645 GMT: The Music of Protest, the Protest of Music. Aria Fani writes about artists such as Shahin Najafi to note, "Honoring and emulating (the) tradition of protest verse, a new generation of Iranian singers and rap artists are confronting sociopolitical taboos head on and keeping lit the flame of resistance against a corrupt, totalitarian regime. Their music not only echoes their own defiance, it also voices their generation's demands."
0630 GMT: Shutting Down the Mayor? According to Kalemeh and several bloggers, Iranian authorities filtered “Khabargozarieh Shahr” (City News Agency), a website linked to Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.
0625 GMT: We have posted the English translation of former President Mohammad Khatami's remarks on Sunday about religion, the Islamic Revolution, and the Republic.
0535 GMT: Who is Mesbah's Target? Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has proclaimed that "not every unity is good and not every difference is bad". He said that "some who insist on wrong interpretations of Shia don't want to discuss differences, but are devils causing division".
Once upon a time, Mesbah Yazdi, seen by many as the spiritual mentor of the President, would have directed his criticisms at the opposition. Now, given his recent comments on Ahmadinejad's advisors and even the President, the target is not so clear.
0520 GMT: Reconcilation? No. The leaders of the Iran Government's three branches --- President Ahmadinejad, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, and head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani --- met Sunday.
There is little in the account of Mehr News beyond the cryptic but telling comment of Ali Larijani that there is no room for “odd interpretation” of law.
Khabar Online says the meeting lasted 2 1/2 hours. but there was "absolute silence" on the outcome.
0500 GMT: We open today with tales of two very different complaints. In a separate entry, we post Bahram Rafiee's report that President Ahmadinejad has written to the Supreme Leader about his escalating dispute with the Parliament.
Rafiee also writes for Rooz Online about a serious complaint against the Government and Ahmadinejad in Friday's open letter by the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani.
The letter builds on the news that seven political prisoners, all senior memers of the IIPF and the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party, had filed complaints against “lawbreaking military officers during the tenth presidential election”, citing a leaked audio of a senior Revolutionary Guard commander setting out steps against the opposition before and after the election.
The IIPF wrote Larijani:
The widespread distribution of taped statements from Commander Moshfegh, a senior figure at the Sarallah base, removed the curtain from the electoral coup in the tenth presidential election and proved the truth of the green movement leaders’ claim that the election was engineered. This individual, who speaks frankly, ignorantly and with a drunkenness from power, about organizing the coup, clearly admits to actions that cannot be referred to as anything other than a coup in any school of political thought....
Now that it has been uncovered that the person who was introduced as the President reached that post through a coup (and not just fraud), lacking any kind of legal or Islamic legitimacy, it is your duty to forward the matter to the supreme court for investigation.