Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (7 February): Anticipating 25 Bahman

1815 GMT: Yes, It is Our Revolution. Since regime supporters are pushing hard the claim (see 1230 GMT) that a "senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood", Kamal al-Halbavi, has backed the Supreme Leader's Friday Prayer linking the Islamic Revolution and Islamic uprising --- even though the Brotherhood issued a clear statement on Saturday that the "Egyptian Revolution" is not the "Islamic Revolution" --- here is al-Halbavi's interview with BBC Persian.

1800 GMT: No Nerves Here. Both Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the human rights section of Iran's judiciary, and Gholam-Hossein Elham of the Guardian Council have spoken loudly about the respect for authority in the country.

Javad Larijani said democracy lovers should kiss the Supreme Leader's hands for saving the country from a "putsch": Ayatollah Khamenei is the "anchor of democracy".

Elham asserted that whoever opposes the Supreme Leader "will be destroyed". Even if Ayatollah Khamenei got more power, this does not smell of dictatorship.

He added a warning for Parliament: if the Guardian Council says something is illegal, Majlis must obey and cannot change laws.

1755 GMT: Linking Protests. Former President Mohammad Khatami has joined the consideration of Iran via other demonstrations: applauding the people of Egypt and Tunis for their pursuit of democracy, he said "people can stand hunger,but not humiliation".

Khatami, who has set conditions for participation in next year's Parliamentary elections, repeated his demands for reform of Iran's system.

1740 GMT: The US Hikers. Massoud Shafiee, the lawyer for detained US hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, offers details on the first hearing in their trial on Sunday:

I was able to review the case. But despite my repeated requests to see my clients, I was not allowed to do so. They were supposed to be available to me one-to-two hours before the session today, and I arrived the courts early, but they were brought to court from prison fifteen minutes after the scheduled court time, and we had to go directly into court.

Today I objected again to these circumstances, where I was not able to see my clients before court in order to talk to them. Judge Salavati promised to give me an extensive visit in prison. We will have to wait and see what happens.

Fortunately, they were brought to court without handcuffs and prison uniforms. They were both wearing normal clothes. I sat next to them. They were well.

1735 GMT: Parliament v. President. Leading MP Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam has cautioned that President Ahmadinejad should not discuss problems with Parliament publicly, as in his recent open letter of complaint, and make himself central to the issue, as it is the Supreme Leader that has authority.

1725 GMT: It's A Nice Day for a White Wedding (Without Music). Yes, we have seen the story that Iran's broadcasting authority has ordered cooking shows not to feature "Western" dishes.(And, yes, we are planning a special feature.)

But now we find that live music and orchestras have been banned from weddings in Yasouj Province in southwestern Iran and Gilan Province in the northwest.

1715 GMT: Labour Front. HRANA reports that 115 workers of the re-nationalised Ziaran slaughterhouse have been unpaid for 20 months.

1710 GMT: Ahmadinejad Gives Way? Press TV reports that the President has appointed Minister of Housing and Urban Development Ali Nikzad as caretaker Minister of Roads and Transportation, replaced the impeached Hamid Behbahani

Earlier this week, it was reported that Ahmadinejad --- who has called the Parliament's impeachment "illegal" --- was keeping Behbahani in his post for another three months.

1650 GMT:Strike a Pose. President Ahmadinejad has said that Iran will launch several new locally-built satellites from March 2011 to March 2012.

At a press conference anticipating the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad presented prototypes of four new satellites.

Iran launched its first satellite into orbit in February 2009.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, has pronounced that Iran has mass-produced "smart" ballistic missiles capable of destroying naval targets.

Commander Ali Fadavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' naval units, added that the Guards will use different types of submarines soon and can shut down the Straits of Hormuz.

1640 GMT: In an RFE/RL reporting on plans for a march on 25 Bahman (14 February), "an Iranian opposition member who is close to the reformist camp" said that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are aware that officials are likely to refuse permission to hold the rally:

I don't think there will be a demonstration because there won't be a permit. [Mousavi and Karrubi] took the step knowing that. But I think they want to blow a fresh breath into the movement. Otherwise all the key members of the Green movement are either in jail, in exile, or out of jail on heavy bail, and are not likely to come to the streets.

The Facebook page for the march now has more than 9500 supporters.

1310 GMT: Labour Front. About 1300 workers at Alborz Tire in Tehran have been on strike on Saturday and Sunday over the failure by management to meet obligations.

1230 GMT: Yes, It is Our Revolution. I'm not saying that the regime is rattled by the reaction of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Al-Azhar to the Supreme Leader, smacking away his claim of Iran's ties with the Egyptian uprising....

Press TV makes sure that it highlights a comment by Brotherhood member Kamal al-Halbavi --- even though it was made to BBC Persian, part of the "soft war" against Tehran --- expressing hope that Egypt would have "a good government, like the Iranian government, and a good president like Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is very brave".

Press TV does not directly cite the Brotherhood's rejection of the Supreme Leader's Friday Prayer. Instead, it puts forth Halbavi's generic comment, "Many thanks for Imam Khamenei and all who support the revolution in Egypt." And it pushes Halbavi's words that Egypt should develop "like Iran, achieving more technological and scientific advances and becoming a regional power".

Iranian state media are also featuring the comments of Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi: "Today, we are witnessing that there are developments in Tunisia and Egypt which are spread to other countries as well....Enemies regard Iran as a major factor behind causing the (ongoing) movement. This is the reason that enemies have mounted pressure on our country."

Somehow, for Press TV, this statement --- which say nothing about Iran's actual influence in Egyptian developments --- becomes "'Islamic Revolution Plays Role in Egypt'".

0930 GMT: Not Your Revolution, Khamenei. The Egyptian-based Al-Azhar, the highest religious institution in the Sunni Muslim world, has denounced remarks by the Supreme Leader in his Friday Prayer in Tehran.

A statement from Al-Azhar condemned "Iran's policies that rely on top clerics issuing calls at odds with the principles of Islam, and which blatantly violate the Quran and the Prophet's traditions." It continued:

Al-Azhar is very concerned about statements and religious edicts from the region and the world that deal with Egypt's domestic affairs. Al-Azhar totally rejects foreign intervention in domestic affairs, and the utilisation of the legitimate demands of the loyal young people of Egypt.

0850 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Is former President Hashemi Rafsanjani finally breaking cover to take a strong public stance against the Government and to call on the regime for substantial changes?

In a statement, reprinted on outlets from the conservative Khabar Online to the opposition Kalemeh, Rafsanjani said "popular uprisings" in Tunisia and Egypt will not be restricted to those two countries: elites must act wisely, otherwise their countries would be "colonised" like Iraq.

Rafsanjani wrote even more sharply that people want the "bad elites" sentenced and bad political ideas removed. His conclusion? "No dictator can stop popular movements....People want democracy."

0840 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that Arzhang Davoodi has gone on hunger strike after being "severely beaten" and sent to solitary confinement.

Davoudi has been in detention since 2003. He was given a sentence of 15 years in prison and 74 lashes for speaking to a Canadian reporter about the death of a Canadian-Iranian journalist, Zahra Kazemi, in detention. Last year he went on a hunger strike that lasted more than 50 days.(See separate entry in EA Archives.)

0835 GMT: Execution Watch. The Netherlands is recalling its ambassador from Iran to protest the execution of Dutch-Iranian national Zahra Bahrami on drugs charges.

Before leaving Tehran, the ambassador will make a formal complaint to Iranian authorities over the "lack of respect" shown towards Bahrami’s family.

Claims are circulating that Bahrami, executed on 29 January, has been buried in secrecy 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Tehran.

(See separate feature, "Zahra Bahrami, the Netherlands, and The Failure of Quiet Diplomacy".)

0830 GMT: Pursuing Justice. Abdolhossein Ruholamini, the prominent conservative political activist, has said that Saeed Mortazavi, the former Tehran Prosecutor General who is now a Presidential aide, will soon face trial over the post-election abuses and killings in Kahrizak Prison.

Ruholamini's son Mohsen was one of three people whose deaths in Kahrizak have been officially confirmed.

Yesterday a report, which apparently started with a Basij student outlet, cited Ruholamini as a source for the claim that two guards had been executed for the Kahrizak incidents. Ruholamini soon denied that he has said this and asserted that the hangings had not taken place.

0825 GMT: From a Click to Protest? The Facebook page for 25 Bahman, the date of the proposed march from Enghelab Square to Azadi Square in Tehran, already has close to 6200 supporters.

0755 GMT: Trading Buddies. Iran and Turkey signed a trade pact on Sunday, one which Tehran said could be worth $30 billion over five years.

The agreement came at the22nd annual joint economic meeting between the two countries.

0740 GMT: At the Movies. Directors Fatemeh Motamed-Arya and Mojtaba Mirtahmaseb have been stopped from travelling to the US for events around the Oscars ceremony.

Motamed-Arya and Mirthamaseb were both blocked at Imam Khomeini Airport by security. No explanation was given for the travel ban.

0735 GMT: Shutting Down the Lawyers. The International Committee for Human Rights in Iran makes a call for a halt to "the ongoing prosecution of prominent human rights lawyers" by highlighting last week's sentencing of Khalil Bahramian to 18 months in prison and a ban from the practice of law for 10 years.

The 71-year-old Bahramian, who has represented defendants such as Kurdish detainee Fahrad Kamangar, executed in May 2009, was convicted of “propaganda against the regime”, and “insulting the head of the judiciary".

0730 GMT: A Clerical Intervention. Moulana Abdolhamid, the Sunni Friday Prayer Leader in Zahedan in southeastern Iran, has declared that the greatest sources for insecurity lie in religious discrimination.

0715 GMT: No doubt about this morning's biggest story, at least for those chatting across the Internet....

Yesterday's request (see document in separate entry) to the Minister of Interior by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi for a march on 25 Bahman (14 February), in support of the Egyptian and Tunisian people, has already brought a flurry of posters.

Then there is this simple depiction of the parade route from Enghelab (Revolution) Square to Azaid (Freedom) Square.

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