Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Rouhani Set to Ease USA-Iran Tensions… “Won’t Budge” On Nukes

00 USA Iran. 19.06.13

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US President Obama and Iranian President-elect Rouhani appeared to be willing to improve ties between their nations Monday, but made it clear that progress in resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme requires a great deal of work. In his first news appearance since his election as Iranian president on Friday, Hassan Rouhani ruled out suspending Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, saying, “Those days are behind us.” Many consider Iran’s uranium enrichment the biggest source of tensions between the nations. Mr Rouhani said, “All should know that the next government won’t budge in defending our inalienable rights”. A former nuclear mediator, Rouhani is to take office on 3 August. Speaking at the news conference, he said he called the animosity between the two sides “an old wound that must be treated”.

Obama also appeared to rule out any easing of economic sanctions soon, saying, “Those won’t be lifted in the absence of significant steps in showing the international community that Iran isn’t pursuing a nuclear weapon”. The ban slashed Iranian oil revenue by over a third and drastically reduced the value of Iran’s national currency. Rouhani outlined several preconditions to beginning of a “constructive dialogue” with the USA. He said, “First, America mustn’t interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs based on the Algiers Accords”, referring to the agreement that ended the Iran hostage crisis in 1981. “They have to recognise our nuclear rights, put away bullying policies against Iran. If such is so, and they have good intent, then, the situation will change”.

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President-elect Hassan Rouhani expressed hope Monday that Iran can reach a new agreement with other international powers over its nuclear programme, saying they should reach such a deal through more transparency and mutual trust. He said, “To settle the nuclear dispute, I’d first show more transparency for strengthening trust (with the world) and whenever our trust is tarnished, I’d try to rebuild it again”. Rouhani, a moderate cleric, won the Iranian presidential election on Saturday, ending eight years of conservative rule, also described the sanctions imposed against the Islamic republic over the nuclear issue as unfair and unjustified. The 64-year-old’s victory raised hopes of an easing of strained ties with Western nations, but he used his first news conference on Monday to rule out a halt to his country’s controversial enrichment of uranium.

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On Monday, Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani vowed to pursue moderate policies during his first press conference, after beating hardliners close to Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rouhani told reporters in Tehran, “This was more than an election; it was a call by the majority of the people for moderation and respect, and against extremism. Iran has started a new chapter of moderation. I’ll not forget the promises I made before the elections, but what I can say now is that the era of sadness has ended”, he added, referring to the eight-year presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

18 June 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_06_18/Rouhani-set-to-ease-US-Iran-tensions-won-t-budge-on-nukes-8116/

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_06_17/Iran-to-show-more-nuclear-transparency-Rouhani-8574/

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_06_17/Irans-new-president-vows-moderation-2143/

Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep it simple. Rouhani is taking a hard line on the nuclear programme for two reasons. Firstly, it makes him more amenable to the circle around Ali Khamenei. Secondly, it means that Russia and China have given Iran guarantees. Both mean that Rouhani isn’t going to cave to the West… no way, no how. In any case, Rouhani is a close and devoted disciple of Grand Ayotollah Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini. He’s a solid Twelver, and a believer in the concept of an Islamic Republic. Don’t believe the lies circulated by Fox News and the Israeli media… Iran isn’t a cheerless and retrograde police state (Ayotollah Khomeini’s fatwa on transsexuals is proof of that). Iran has powerful enemies who wish to demonise it due to it being an Islamic Republic and a semi-socialist society. Be careful… the corporate media usually lies by omitting things…not by making things up (although it does lie when it thinks it can get away with it… as most of their audience is ignorant, they get away with all too much). Have a care…

BMD  

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Sunday, 16 June 2013

16 June 2013. Is There Hope for Iran?

00 What Would Jesus Do. Terry Jones. Political Cartoon. 9.12

THIS is what Our Lord Christ thinks of the anti-Muslim haters…

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A friend wrote me:

I have some hope that Rouhani might actually make a difference. He has the cred to have standing with the powers-that-be in Tehran, but also may find a way to dialogue with the West in a way that’s neither obsequious nor terminally dysfunctional (like Ahmadinejad). Fingers crossed and candles lit; may God shed his grace on all of us and bring an honourable and peaceful end to the ridiculous nuclear stand-off. The Iranian people deserve it.

I quite agree. As a god-fearing Christian, I oppose Potapov, Dreher, Paffhausen, Webster, and Jacobses, who support the American demonisation of Iran, neocon warmongering throughout the world, and rightwing lunacy in general. All decent people hate their vicious and god-denying drivel (may God offer them “the onion”, though)…

BMD

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Iranian Atheists: Waiting to Come Out

01 Iranian family

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Asked about atheism in Iran, a group of women at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran said that they were unfamiliar with the concept. Eventually, an amiable elderly lady in a black headscarf said in a puzzled tone, “Maybe, there are people like that abroad. We wouldn’t know”. There’s no faulting her, given that atheists and agnostics don’t exist in Iran… officially. A 2011 nationwide census put the share of Muslims in the country at 99.4 percent, with Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians making up another 0.2 percent, and the rest… about 300,000 people… fell under the “other” and “unknown” categories. Yet, there were some doubts about the reliability of these statistics, and, certainly, there appear to be Iranians who question God’s existence… although they don’t speak about it openly, for a public coming-out to embrace Christopher Hitchens and his ilk could land them on death row.

Milad, an Iranian IT professional now living in London, said, “There are quite a lot of [Iranian] atheists, including myself to some extent”. Like all people interviewed for this article who acknowledged the existence of non-believers in Iran, he asked to have his name changed, fearing persecution. Milad is right to be cautious, despite residing abroad, because the government isn’t above cracking down on dissenters’ relatives, said Cyrus, also a native Iranian, who works in the American media. Cyrus said that he knows of at least one case where police arrested the Iran-based father of an émigré who ran a pro-atheism group on Facebook, releasing him only after the group was shut down. He gave no details. Nevertheless, arrest can amount to getting off easy, given that punishment for apostasy under Sharia… the prescribed standard for Iranian judges… is death for male apostates and life imprisonment for females.

One problem is that Iranians must spell out their religious affiliation in numerous official documents, such as college applications, relatively early in life. For the majority, that means formally-identifying themselves as Muslim. Once that’s done, there’s no turning back to embrace any other belief system. There have been no executions of atheists reported from Iran in recent years. However, apostasy is often cited among régime opponents’ crimes, lending extra weight to the accusations against them. In a high-profile case in 2002, a court convicted Professor Hashem Aghajari of apostasy just for criticising Iran’s theocracy and gave him a death sentence, later replaced by three years’ imprisonment.

Tempting Fate on Facebook

The administrator of the Iranian Atheists and Humanists group on Facebook (not the one that was shut down) wrote to RIA-Novosti in response to questions last month, “If you try to lie, or don’t say anything about your beliefs, no one will do anything to you”. None of the self-proclaimed Iranian atheists reached by RIA-Novosti agreed to in-person interviews. One of them quipped, “This would make me a very dead Iranian girl”. The administrator of the Facebook group, who wouldn’t even give his/her gender, added, “[But he] who dares, wins, so we’re acting anonymously”. There are several Iranian pro-atheism communities on Facebook, run in either English or Farsi, mostly focused on aggregating pictures poking fun at religious figures (not limited to Islam… for example, the recently-resigned pope also got skewered). The groups have anywhere between 2,000 and 40,000 likes each, although many supporters seem to be foreigners. This form of protest may seem toothless by Western standards, but it amounts to something more daring in the Iranian context. Whilst the apostasy punishments are by far the scariest stick in the government’s arsenal, there are more-mundane reminders of the risks for Internet activists… Iran blocks Facebook and local authorities don’t take kindly to irony; they’ve even banned toys based on Simpsons characters as “Western propaganda”.

Take Off That Scarf

Online dissent may be just the tip of the iceberg, the nameless Facebook administrator said, noting, “We aren’t alone. The population of people who’re atheist is growing”, adding that there are many atheists and agnostics in Iran among well-educated residents of big cities. These middle-class urbanites were the driving force behind the 2009-10 opposition protests in Tehran that, at their peak, brought three million people to the streets of a city with 12 million residents, according to Time magazine’s estimates. The protests… brutally suppressed by the authorities… were aimed against alleged election fraud believed to have robbed a reformist candidate of victory, and were the biggest civil unrest in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The protests had no outright religious agenda, but they called for more freedom… including personal freedom. In a telling gesture, female protesters removed their headscarves when camping out in Tehran’s city squares… a move that, under normal circumstances, would have likely led to immediate arrest for defying the country’s strict Islamic moral code.

Live and Let Doubt

Although no reliable studies exist, all the Iranians and Iran experts interviewed for this article (those who admitted familiarity with the concept, that is) said that explicit atheism appears to remain a rarity in Iran. Lana Ravandi-Fadai, a researcher in the Iran section of the Moscow-based Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said, “I’ve heard some friends say that they’re atheists or agnostics, but they don’t admit it publicly”. American-based Cyrus shared similar observations, saying that those who admitted atheistic views even in their own social circle could face a judgemental response. Nevertheless, several émigrés and Iran-based atheists said that religious practices have shifted, with more people giving up active worship whilst still embracing Islam as part of their cultural identity. According to London-based Milad, who said that he still keeps in close contact with relatives and friends in Iran, “Many have never even set foot in a mosque despite identifying themselves as Muslims”. Ravandi-Fadai said, “In my personal view, the local mosque often serves social and even psychotherapeutic functions in addition to its spiritual significance. For instance, I know many women who spend their days at the mosque in order to socialise and talk over problems with others”.

Nonetheless, politicians for whom Islam is dogma stir up more public ire than the little-discussed atheists, Cyrus pointed up, and others agreed. Ali, a native Iranian living in Moscow, said, “Some claim there are fewer true believers in Iran now than before the Islamic Revolution. People are put off by being forced to believe”. It seems, judging by a smattering of conversations at least, that ordinary Iranians’ identity-over-ideology approach to Islam leads to a spirit of live-and-let-live when it comes not only to other religions, but also even to the lack of any religion at all. None of the half-dozen religious Iranians interviewed by RIA-Novosti, including two Tehran clerics (they said they were unfamiliar with the concept of atheism), expressed any hostility toward non-believers. Reza, a 30-year-old taxi-driver from the southern city of Bushehr, said, “I’ve never met such people, but I’d just want to speak with them and understand them. I’m really interested in them. I’m not thinking I’m better than them just because of my religion”. He was visiting the Khomeini mausoleum with his wife and toddler son. Reza came to the shrine to “enjoy the calm and peace” (an effect to which his child seemed immune). Later, the family strolled along the enfilade of stores that ring the tomb of Iran’s great religious leader offering snacks, carpets, Parker pens, and other items as appealing to the religious as to atheists, if any happened to pass by.

19 March 2013

Aleksei Yeremenko

Mikhail Gusev

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20130319/180108603/Iranian-Atheists-Waiting-to-Come-Out.html

Monday, 18 February 2013

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Iran Not Seeking Nuclear Weapons

01 Iranian family

This is the REAL face of Iran… any questions? Don’t buy into rightwing lies… what they really want to do is to destroy a non-capitalist state… think on that. Iranians aren’t monsters… they’re human beings…

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On Saturday, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei said that Iran isn’t seeking to develop nuclear weapons. He posted on his website, “We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don’t want to build atomic weapons. However, if we didn’t believe so and intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us”. On 14 February, talks between Iran and the IAEA failed to produce a deal on granting IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin facility, which they suspect Iran could use to produce nuclear weapons.

Moscow doesn’t see enough signs that Iran is ready to meet UN and IAEA demands concerning Iran’s nuclear programme. This came in a statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in the run-up to the six international mediators’ talks with Iran in the Kazakh city of Almaty on 26 February. The six mediators are known as P5+1, or the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. According to Rybakov, the demands on Tehran, including the one that it stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, are still in force. He pointed up that we’re approaching a time when we should make specific decisions.

Iran will never renounce its right to develop nuclear energy for a variety of peaceful needs. It also urges the Western powers raising concerns over its nuclear energy programme to resolve their disagreements with it through talks. On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke about this in Teheran at the start of yet another round of negotiations between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported no breakthrough at the nuclear talks with Tehran. According to the UN body’s chief inspector, Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA is ready to continue negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme. However, he added that the atomic watchdog needed more time to move the debate.

16 February 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_16/Iran-not-seeking-nuclear-weapons-Khamenei/

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