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The Latest from Iran (4 May): Beyond the "Main Event"

2005 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. University student Masoud Babapour has been sentenced to two years in prison.

1945 GMT: Mahmoud's Big Show. We've posted a video and transcript of President Ahmadinejad's extended appearance on US television on Monday.

1830 GMT: Economy Watch. Writing for Reuters, Alistair Lyon draws on the observations of several analysts to offer an overview of the Ahmadinejad Government's position: "Iran's home-grown economic ills pose a knottier challenge for its hardline leaders than possible new United Nations or U.S. sanctions over its nuclear programme."

NEW Iran Video and Transcript: Ahmadinejad on Charlie Rose (3 May)
NEW Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi “The Movement Has Spread Everywhere”
NEW Iran: Bin Laden Lives in Tehran Shocker!
Latest Iran Video: Clinton & Ahmadinejad Speeches at UN Nuke Conference (3 May)
The Latest from Iran (3 May): Mahmoud’s Road Show

1515 GMT: The UK Deportation Case. The partner of Bita Ghaedi, who fled Iran because of alleged domestic abuse and who has participated in protests against the regime, writes that her appeal against deportation has been refused by British authorities.

Ghaedi is booked on a Wednesday flight to Tehran. Her last chance against deportation is a request for a court injunction.

1510 GMT: Today's Karroubi Contribution. We have posted Mehdi Karroubi's latest statement, "The Movement Has Spread Everywhere", in a separate entry.

1440 GMT: "A Proud and Progressive Iran". Former President Mohammad Khatami, meeting former members of Parliament, has said:
We have always wanted and still want a proud and progressive Iran which also follows the moral, Islamic and humanitarian rulings; the spirit of reformism that we have talked about is the same thing....We are repeating again that the most important steps are the release of prisoners, avoiding unjustifiable conflicts, easing of the [political] atmosphere based on the Constitution, freedom of political and social activities, providing freedom of speech and thought, moving toward joyful and healthy elections and valuing criticism, and, on top of everything, defending the dignity, respect, freedom, and fundamental rights of the society and people.

1230 GMT: Here We Go Again.

Step 1: Iran Comes Under Pressure Over Its Nuclear Programme (as in this week's US approach to the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Conference)

Step 2: The Iranian Military Puffs Out Its Chest and Says --- As Much to Iran's People As to the Rest of the World --- "Don't Mess With Us. We're Very Tough" (as in today's declaration of "new naval war games" in the Persian Gulf and the assurance that it had photographed a US aircraft carrrier or the Iranian Minister of Defense blessing a new production line for an anti-aircraft missile).

Step 3. The International Media Jump to the Iranian Bell and Bark "Crisis, Crisis, Crisis".

1110 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (At the Movies). The American entertainment writer Anthony Kaufman, who organised the petition by prominent Hollywood filmmakers calling for the release of Iranian director Jafar Panahi from Evin Prison, has an update on his blog.

Kaufman summarises the campaign and notes the response of Tabnak in Iran: "“It’s up to the government security agencies and the justice system to counter such poisonous media activities against the regime with providing clear explanation of the reasons for Panahi’s arrest and offering all the available evidence and documents against him. They should prevent such subversive behaviors against the regime and not allow the foot soldiers of the West’s media war to distort the truth by portraying Panahi as being innocent.”

1030 GMT: Iran and the Status of Women. The controversy over Iran's accession to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women rumbles on. Mission Free Iran has launched a vigorous campaign to rebuke the UN and those governments, including the US, who voted by acclamation to seat Iran.

0745 GMT: Tuesday Funnies. Fox News gives us a present of one of the worst --- and thus funniest --- pieces of "investigative reporting" we've seen recently. We've posted it in a separate entry: "Bin Laden in Tehran Shocker".

0740 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz alleges that a dubious record has been set with more than 40 years of prison time handed out to political detainees in a single day.

RAHANA reports new accusations against journalist Emaduddin Baghi, with bail set at 200 million Tomans (more than $200,000).

[More on Baghi: see "A Birthday Message from His Daughter"]

The website also claims Professor Davoud Soleymani is in critical condition in Section 350 of Evin Prison.

0730 GMT: Greens and Azeris. Yesterday we summarised the discussion between between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Iranian Azeri reformists on how to maintain communications and promote the demands of the opposition. A couple of additional points of interest.

The meeting took place in Tehran, which brings to mind how the Iranian regime blocked Mousavi from traveled to Tabriz, the largest city in Iranian Azerbaijan, on 22 Bahman (11 February). So if Mir Hossein can't go to the mountain, then....

In addition to seeing Mousavi, the Azeri delegation also met Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, Behzad Nabavi, and Mohsen Mirdamadi.

0725 GMT: Preventing Unity? Reformist member of Parliament Majid Nasirpour has claimed that "hardliners" are trying to cut any relationship between moderates and reformists.

0720 GMT: Cover-Up. Reformist member of Parliament Jamshid Ansari has repeated his claim that the Majlis had no "truth-finding commission" to investigate the June 2009 attacks on Tehran University's dormitories and that no report will be produced.

0635 GMT: Kahrizak Reopened? A few days ago, Mehdi Khazali, who holds markedly different views from his father, the "conservative" Ayatollah Khazali. asserted that Kahrizak Prison --- notorious for the abuse and death of post-election detainees and supposedly closed on orders of the Supreme Leader --- had been reopened under a different name.

The allegation is now getting political traction: the reformist member of Parliament Darius Ghanbari has asked for an immediate Majlis investigation.

0630 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Rah-e-Sabz, claiming sources close to the Expediency Council, claims former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (the chairman of the Council) is continuing to refuse his role as a Tehran Friday Prayer leader for two reasons: "unkindnesses of officials" and fear of possible uproar and harm to demonstrators.

Rafsanjani last presided at Friday Prayers in mid-July.

0625 GMT: Parliament's New Campaign. Another front in the contest between the Majlis and the Ahmadinejad Government is opened, as MPs propose the impeachment of Minister of Interior Mohammad Ali Najjar for "militarisation" of his Ministry and ineptitude.

0620 GMT: Meeting Across the Fence. How was it that Mehdi Karroubi engaged in friendly conversation last Saturday with his opponents, such as Ali Larijani, at the memorial service for the father of Minister of Culture Mohammad Hosseini? Peyke Iran offers context with a profile of four Hosseini brothers with very different political views.

0615 GMT: The Stabbing Victim. An update on Amir Kabir University professor and former minister Ahmad Motamedi, who was stabbed in his office yesterday. He is out of danger after four hours of surgery. Rah-e-Sabz reports he was attacked with a long dagger (ghameh), cutting the artery between liver and kidney.

0540 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An Iranian activist reports that the manager of Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign amongst Tehran students, Ali Vaghfi, has been sentenced to one year in prison with a further five years suspended.

0530 GMT: The showpiece speeches of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hillary Clinton (videos in a separate entry) have been delivered at the United Nations conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The expected grandstanding came from both sides: Ahmadinejad trying to bury the discussion of further sanctions on Iran and seeking to score big in the Middle East with his denunciation of the US and Israel and 11-point proposal for global disarmament, Clinton castigating Tehran's "diversion" while holding out the prospect of "weapons-free zones" in Africa and the South Pacific.

There was no commitment, however, to disarmament in the Middle East, the one initiative that could make a real difference in the US-Iran case, because of the one word missing from Clinton's speech (clue: it begins with an "I"). So one can only hope that the month-long conference, if it is to have any success, gets beyond yesterday's reduction to a US-Iran scrap and that attention to "Iran" goes beyond the nuclear focus.

Reader Comments (12)

[...] The Latest from Iran (4 May): Beyond the “Main Event” | Enduring America [...]

Megan and Barry,

News of the Day! Your beloved Fox News pretends Bin Laden is living comfortably in Iran ;-)" rel="nofollow">


May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama


The news of Bin Laden family members living in Iran has been reported several times by a number of news outlets in the past few years. I have not seen anybody providing any hard evidence. I, however, will not be surprised if Bin Laden slips into Iran; Pakistan-Afghan border is not safe anymore.

This evening (May 3) news on Fox and other outlets has been wall to wall about arrest of Faisal Shahzad for last Saturday New York City bombing attempt.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

@ 1030 GMT: Iran and the Status of Women

Majid Jafarzadeh, chief of AN's international bureau (?) said to ILNA about Iranian women living abroad: "Hijab is a personal affair."" rel="nofollow">
Change of mind? Certainly not, but a new tactic to explain, why AN meets so many women without hijab on his travels.
This rotten system is long overdue...

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama


Much appreciated. Awaiting the full translation of the full speech.


May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

Iranian hardline cleric accused of plotting against Leadership
Reformist Member of Iran’s Parliament AliAkbar Mohtashamipour accused the hardliner, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi of planning to even cut off the roots of Leadership.

In a meeting with a group of university students, Mohatashimipor maintained: “I am certain, Mr. Mesbah Yazdi does not even believe in the Leadership, Imam Khomeini or Ayatollah Khamenei.”
More:" rel="nofollow">

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

@ 0740 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch
Green Voice has this news in English:" rel="nofollow">

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

@ 1440 GMT: Khatami “A Proud and Progressive Iran”


I always wonder about the two versions of reality, the Persian and the English. Jaras has published Khatami's statements with the headline "Our voices and the voices of those who care for the Revolution remain unheard - The youths' diversion from Islam and the Revolution is a catastrophe"" rel="nofollow">

Your quotation is only an extract of a long speech about the necessity of fair elections, which requires a supervision, but one that defends the people's rights against those in power; a complaint about unfair psychological warfare against dissidents and the people; a complaint about the exclusion of political parties, which Khatami relates to a "problem" in the country; and a warning that such exclusions only weaken the IR and empower its ennemies.


May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama


Your fast food comment is to funny especially the noting of the concept of Fenglish in Iran. Sadly, though this is line with the regimes obvious arbanization of Iran to fall in line with the literal iterpretations of Islam they espouse. After all in Islam a cardinal sin is immitating the infidel. One wonders when they will start banning computer, household goods, books, an software made by the infidel--these of couse lead all away from religion as well--right??? :) What nitwits and frankly this is alos in line with the regime trying to banish Persian heritage from Iran as well--because as you guessed it its not in line with the teaching of Islam. Well Khomenei did say "their is no fun in Islam."


May 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwdavit


I think you're right to bring this out. The context, however, is that before Ahmadinejad got to the 11 points, he launched his ringing attack on the US, Israel, and other countries, which in turn brought the walkout. My concern is that this political theatre overshadowed any possibility of engagement with Ahmadinejad's proposals.


May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScottLucas11


Frankly I don't think Ahmadinejad is really interested in engagement with the West which he considers his enemy. This show was put on for other groups such as NAM, as Catherine wisely pointed out. I also beleive it was a show for the OIC states to say Iran is "the true champion of the Palestinians." This was nothing more than chest thumping and grandstanding. If he truly wanted engagement he wouldn't be so ardent in attacks on the West.


May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwdavit

Engagement with an irrational and flaky individual like Ahmadi who pretends he has any say in IR affairs is a futile exercise. There was no opportunity to be lost.

US government should not have granted visa and if it did it should have been for one day.

Ahmadi was here for a PR campaign and Obama administration MUST recognize that and shut him up.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

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