Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (15 August): The World According to the Regime

See Also, Iran Video Special: Europe & US Need Freedom Most of All

Iran Special: An Appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur (Alinejad)

1557 GMT: This update via Scott Lucas:

Claim of Day. Emruz, the website of the reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution, claims it has a tape of President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, making some admissions about the 2009 Presidential election....

The site asserts that, in a private meeting with Ahmadinejad supporters, Rahim-Mashai acknowledged that Mir Hossein Mousavi received at least 15 million votes --- the official total was 11 millions v. more than 23 million for Ahmadinejad.

And there's more: Rahim-Mashai supposedly warned that "the opposition" is strong and that the President has been trying to attract its supporters.

1424 GMT: Cartoon alert - The result of the cooperation between Khatam al-Anbia, a large engineering firm with close ties to the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the oil ministry (Kowsar):

1416 GMT: Molavi Abdolhamind, a very well renowned Sunni cleric in Iran, reiterated that the unity and national security of Iran depends on government non-interference in religious matters. The statement, made at Friday prayers in Zahedan, are likely a response to the new enforcement of a law that would require a representative of the Supreme Leader to oversea all Sunni seminaries. The law is seen as both a political and a religious power play, particularly in southeast Iran.

1408 GMT: Professors and employees of the Sanandaj Free University have staged a sit-in to protest an article, which appeared in the university journal last week, that insulted Sunni Muslims.

1403 GMT: Workers at the Ahwaz Metro has now worked without wages for 7 months, and the Executive Secretary for Labor in the province has said that two subway workers have lost their lives in job-related injuries.

1345 GMT: Hijab Watch --- The Response. After sustained attack from hard-line media over its special section, which appeared to challenge the introduction into Iran of compulsory Islamic dress for women, the pro-Ahmadinejad paper Iran has tried to counter the criticism.

The newspaper claimed that the section, Khatoon Nameh, had been misrepresented and threatened to take hardline outlets to court.

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, the managing editor of Iran and a former senior advisor to the President, said in an interview that he is a defender of hejab and warned against its politicization.

IRNA goes one step further. They have demanded that Fars News, Farda News, and Raja News be prosecuted for spreading false lies about the Khatoon special.

1215 GMT: Hijab Fight. More on the politcal fight, which we noted this morning, picked by the Ahmadinejad camp over enforced hijab for women:

The special edition of the pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Iran, titled "Khatoon Nameh" (The Book of the Lady), features an interview with Mehdi Kalhor, formerly a senior adviser to the President. Kalhor claims that the black chador, the full Islamic cover for women, was brought back to Iran by Naser al-Din Shah in the 19th century after a trip to France where he saw women wearing black clothes at lavish evening parties. Having linked the chador to Western decadence, Kalhor declared, "From a philosophical viewpoint, chador is the worst type of hejab."

Politically, Fararu, associated with Ahmadinejad rival and Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bqher Ghalibaf, has run a cartoon which appears to align with Ahmadinejad, alluding to the hypocrisy of those who observe hijab. Others are far more critical, with the Tehran Prosecutor General warning of consequences and MPs lining up to denounce the Iran special.

Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, who heads Parliament's clerical bloc, said the newspaper's feature was against Islamic teaching. Promient MP Zohreh Elahian said that 21 deputies have signed a letter demanding the Parliamentary interrogation of Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini for questioning.

While a commission monitoring the press reportedly convenes, Javan, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, detailed "the ten goals of the 'deviant current'" around Ahmadinejad in publishing the special. Hard-line site Nedaye Enghelab, claimed the goal was "to polarize the society and support the bad state of hejab in the country." Farda News said that Iran had mocked the plan for the enforcement of hejab.

EvenRaja News, which has supported Ahmadinejad, said the special had demeaned "chador, the best hejab for woman." And Mashregh News specifically blamed Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai for the sacrifice of hijab.

0645 GMT: Economy Watch. Aftab reports that the strike by fabric sellers in the Tehran Grand Bazaar, protesting Government tax policy, has entered its third week.

0643 GMT: Border Watch. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Council, has denied the claim of Turkish  media that Iran has arrested the deputy leader of the Kurdish insurgent group PKK.

0642 GMT: Oil Watch. It looks like there may be more trouble for Iranian development of oil and gas fields. After reports that China was considering a withdrawal of investment, a deputy in the Ministry of Oil has threatened Beijing with a cut-off of  co-operation over the projects in South Pars, one of the largest fields in the world.

0641 GMT: Foreign Affairs (British Front). As a few dozen Basij militia "protested for the British people" in front of Britain's Embassy in Tehran, Fars has illustrated English "protest"... by publishing photos of crowd trouble at football matches from 2008 to 2010.

0630 GMT: Justice Watch. Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, appeared in court on Sunday, but her trial was postponed for one month.

The Iranian judiciary has declared that files against opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, under strict house arrest since February, are near completion.

Mousavi advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand welcomed a public trial: "Let the people hear the truth." And reformists such as former President Mohammad Khatami and Rasoul Montajabnia have repeated that reformism is too popular to be eliminated from society, and truth will win out in history.

0620 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalists Sam Mahmoudi and Mehdi Khazali have been released on bail. Khazali left prison with the provocative comment, "I wished prisoners were treated as they were in the times of the Shah."

0615 GMT: Fashion and Politics. It looks like the President's have chosen a new political fight, this time over the issue of hijab.

On Sunday, the daily paper Iran printed a special making the claim that the Iranian monarchy first promoted black chadors, the full-length covering for women, after Nassereddin Shah's trips to Europe.

Hardliners, as expected, hit back. Tehran Prosecutor Doulatabadi announced a complaint because of an "insult to moralities". There are claims that police special forces gathered in front of the offices of the Iran daily and that the media supervision committee will consider a ban on the newspaper today.

0610 GMT: Reformist Watch. The debate among the reformists over involvement in March's Parliamentary elections continues. MP and Mardom Salari Party member Amir Taherkhani, interviewed by the newspaper Mardom Salari, said the majority principlists cannot make decisions on behalf of the regime about the reformist participation. However, the headline of the article points to reformists staying in the campaign, "Principlists' weak management is the best reason for reformists' participation in elections."

0315 GMT: Scott Lucas brings us this first update:

Politics may be in slow season in Iran, but Iranian officials and media continue to offer a bumper crop of eyebrow-raising commentary on international affairs.

In a separate feature, we offer President Ahmadinejad's revelation to Russia Today that "those most in need of freedom" are in the US and Europe. But the President is far from alone in his re-working of the world.

Fars is intent on demonstrating that BBC Persian --- dominated by a cartoon figure in striped trousers and a shiny black shoe stepping on a banner with the BBC logo --- is deviously referring to those causing unrest in English cities as "rioters", when the same outlet had labelled those contesting Iran's 2009 Presidential election outcome as "protesters".

As Josh Shahryar pointed out yesterday, some of the evidence that Fars News used to condemn riots were actually pictures from other events, like a riot in a football match in 2008, and riots in different countries besides England.

And Keyhan, defending "the Syrian army's reaction to the armed elements that have effectively taken control of the connective roads in the two cities of Deir Ez Zor and Hama", sees perfidy in the presentation of the conflicts by foreign outlets:

The Western media and especially the media in the region affiliated with the West have uniformly so inverted the picture that you would think in these two cities the Syrian army had confronted people participating in peaceful demonstrations and calling for political reforms, killing tens of them and wounding or arresting hundreds of them! Yet these were neither demonstrations nor populist assemblies that had formed at some point nor were any peaceful or political demands involved.

Apparently Deir Ez Zor is not populated by residents who have been cut down and occupied for protesting the Assad regime but, "since the time of the American occupation of Iraq...[is] the most important center for Al-Qaeda".

Thus, in Deir Ez Zor, the leader of Al-Qaeda officially ordered the overthrow of Syria's political system and Bashar Assad" while in Hama, "armed elements...tried with the help of the West" --- including the "English Foreign Office" --- to take this city out of the government's control".

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