Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (18)


Iran Snapshot: "Bad Hijab" Woman Beats Up Cleric (Esfandiari)

Female "Morality Police" Enforcing "Good Hijab""I politely [told] her to cover herself up," said Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti, an Iranian cleric in the city of Shamirzad in Semnan Province, describing a recent encounter with a woman he believed was improperly veiled.

"She responded to me by saying: 'You [should] close your eyes.'"

Beheshti said he repeated his warning to the “bad hijab” woman, which is a way of describing women who do not fully observe the Islamic dress code that became compulsory following the 1979 revolution.

"Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she also insulted me. I asked her not to insult me anymore, but she started shouting and threatening me," Beheshti said. "She pushed me and I fell to the ground on my back. From that point on, I don’t know what happened. I was just feeling the kicks of the woman who was beating me up and insulting me."

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Iran Feature: Facebook and the Earthquakes (Kaviani)

Back in 2009, at the height of mass protests that followed Iran's disputed presidential election, Facebook emerged as an important tool for protesters to share news and information. It had such an impact that the authorities even branded Facebook a weapon in a "soft war" against the Islamic republic. 

As a result, users in Iran have to jump through hoops to access the social-media website today. Unbowed, they go through the hassle of going through proxy servers to circumvent the regime's efforts to block Facebook.

And this week, for those suffering from the earthquakes that struck northwestern Iran, their unsanctioned efforts were life-saving.

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Iran Feature: The "No to Hijab" Campaign on Facebook (Esfandiari)

Dozens of Iranian women, and some men, living both inside and outside the country, have posted their pictures on the Facebook page of a newly launched campaign called, “No to Mandatory Hijab” that declares that women should have the right to choose whether or not to wear the Muslim headscarf.

Among the posters, according to the campaign’s organizers, are women living inside the country who voluntarily wear the chador -- the long cloak with a head scarf -- but believe that the hijab shouldn’t be compulsory.

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Iran Feature: Maya Neyestani --- Challenging Repression Through The Cartoon (Esfandiari)

Neyestani's cartoons pulse with feelings of hope, lack of freedom, and frustration with the absurd social and political rules that Iranians face in their day-to-day lives. His drawings depict Iranian leaders as obsessed with nuclear power, show how sanctions hurt ordinary people, evoke the specter of war with Israel, highlight the plight of political prisoners, and, in general, draw attention to vexing issues on the minds of many Iranians.

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Iran Feature: The Disappearing Interview with a US Official (Esfandiari)

The Controversial Alef ArticleSince Tuesday, we have paid close attention to the curious episode of a conservative Iranian newspaper/website, linked to leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli, announcing and then withdrawing the announcement of an interview with the State Department's Persian-language spokesperson Alan Eyre.

Golnaz Esfandiari, writing for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, summarises the developments, which came amidst confusion over Iran's forthcoming nuclear talks with the US and other powers....

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Iran Feature: A Beginner's Guide to the Squeeze on Tehran's Money (Recknagel)

On March 15, SWIFT agreed with the European Union not to forward messages to any Iranian bank or individual that is blacklisted by the bloc.

That bans some 30 Iranian banks from the global financial network, banks which Tehran currently depends upon to import and export goods and, most importantly, sell its oil internationally.

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Iran Music Special: The Basij Militia Rap for Occupy Wall Street

We have repeatedly noted the Iranian regime's love of protest --- well, protest that is 1) in America or 2) by Basij militia "students", say, in front of a foreign embassy.

But what if the two could be combined? And what if it could be done through music? Not just music, but hard-core urban rap music?

Basij member Hashem Bafghi has made that protest dream come true. A snippet of the English lyrics:

Occupy Wall Street is a real war street
What Happened to the American Dream?
Don’t watch and have ice cream
Capitalism failed everyone
Killed the people one by one

Unfortunately, we cannot embed this iconic track, but you can have a listen and rap along here (hat tip to Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).

And, for a reminder that criticism of Wall Street is not just a 21st-century thing, you can enjoy a less aggressive foreign intervention through music:


Iran Feature: Is Civil Disobedience Taking Off? (Tait)

Protest over Lake UrmiaWhen Leon Panetta, the new United States defense secretary, declared on September 6 that it was only "a matter of time" before an Arab Spring-style revolution came to Iran, it seemed to smack of wishful thinking. 

And since this year's outbreak of popular uprisings that have unseated dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and destabilized authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the Middle-East countries, there have been numerous expressions of desire for a "Persian Spring" to go with the Arab variety. 

Yet now opponents of the Tehran regime feel its nemesis may finally have arrived -- in the form of proliferating acts of civil disobedience.

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Belarus Feature: Suppressing Protest...Again

Last winter we covered the Belarussian regime's repression of protest after President Aleksandr Lukashenko was officially re-elected with 80% of the vote. 

We return to the story as the regime moved to prevent demonstrations on Sunday, which officially is remembered for the liberation from Germany in World War II. Thousands of police and special forces were deployed in the center of the capital Minsk, and access to social media and websites was blocked. Dozens of activists, including Stanislav Shushkevich, Belarus' first post-Soviet leader, were reportedly detained, and others were called in by the intelligence services and warned not to protest.

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Iran Analysis: Ahmadinejad, Larijani, and the Supreme Leader Wrestle in an Oil Slick (Tait)

For years he has treated it with imperious disdain. But now, with his political capital hemorrhaging, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is being subjected to a relentless assault by Iran's parliament with the apparent approval of the country's most powerful cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.

The attacks come in the wake of a bruising public power struggle between the two men and appear to be part of a concerted move by Khamenei to weaken a president he once treated as a protege.

The latest in a series of anti-Ahmadinejad ambushes came on May 25 when the parliament voted to investigate allegations that the president misused state funds as effective bribes by giving $80 each to 9 million voters before the 2009 presidential election.

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