Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Prague, Czech Republic -- April 27, 2006) Radio Farda's major stories this week were international tensions over Iran's nuclear program; debate about women being allowed to enter sports stadiums; and a continuing controversy over enforcement of a strict version of the Islamic dress code for women.
>> Radio Farda's recently launched weekly "Viewpoints" program on April 25 featured an interview with Mansour Farhang, the Islamic Republic's first UN Ambassador, who is now a dissident and professor at Bennington College in Vermont. Farhang spoke about U.S. policy options and steps the U.S. could take to reduce tensions over Iran's nuclear program. Farhang said, "Even a reactionary regime such as Iran, which brutalizes its people, can have legitimate security concerns. So, only the U.S. can respond to these concerns by taking steps toward cancellation of economic sanctions, free Iran from regional isolation and, clearly, test Iran's intentions openly in the international arena."
>> President Mahmud Ahmadinejad recently ordered authorities to allow women to enter sports stadium and watch soccer games -- but conservative clerics immediately raised objections and it is not clear yet whether a 1979 ban on women in sports stadiums will be lifted. Radio Farda broadcast an interview on April 24 with women's rights activist Mahboubeh Abbass-Gholizadeh, who said the women's movement in Iran has long been struggling for equal access to public places. If the ban on entering sports stadiums is lifted, she said, it will be as a result of pressure from the women's groups, "not because the president is a democrat and gives importance to women's rights." Abbass-Gholizadeh said that all of the members of her group "are planning to go and watch the next soccer game." An English transcript of the interview can be accessed at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/04/db6037cb-dab3-4ef9-8389-ee0c2a68e900.html
>> The authorities' recent crackdown against violators of Iran's strict Islamic dress code continues to be a hot topic of protest and discussion inside Iran. Radio Farda aired a program on April 22 that included interviews with Fatemeh Haqiqatju, a former member of parliament and woman activist now living in the U.S, and Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeqi Tehrani, a moderate, senior cleric in the holy city of Qom. Haqiqatju said that, as restrictions imposed on society grow harsher, they would bear more negative outcomes. Haqiqatju, who observes the Islamic dress code, said it is a personal matter and the government should not interfere with that choice. Ayatollah Tehrani said that, according to the Koran, women must cover their head and body in public, adding that there should be no compulsion. He added that women who did not observe the Hijab must be "guided" through advice, not pressure. If they refuse, Ayatollah Tehrani said, they should not be allowed to appear in public (http://www.radiofarda.com/iran_article/2006/4/3f11b8ae-2827-4d39-8e31-b063131bc7a7.html)
CORRECTION: The March 20 edition of "Heard This Week..." should have referred to the Hamas-led government being in place in the Palestinian Territories. We apologize for the error.
For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit:
http://www.radiofarda.com -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website
http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review
http://www.rferl.org/reports/iran-report/default.asp -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iran.html -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran
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