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Iranian Writer Wins U.S. Rights Award

7 March 2005 -- The jailed Iranian author Taqi Rahmani has been chosen to receive a U.S. award for persecuted writers.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said today that Rahmani, 45, will receive the Hellman/Hammett award for writers who suffer reprisals for expressing views that a government opposes.

Rahmani's writings on religious modernism and the political history of Iran have criticized the relationship between religion and politics in Iran and its adverse effects on democratic development.

The Washington director of Human Right Watch's Middle East Division, Joe Stork, said Rahmani has spent more than a third of his life behind bars just for expressing his opinion.

Stork said his experience is a harsh testimony to the plight of writers, dissidents, and other peaceful critics in Iran today.