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Heard This Week - 05/04/2006

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Prague, Czech Republic -- May 4, 2006) Radio Farda's major stories this week were student unrest and expulsions from Tehran University, a new phase in the debate about women being allowed to enter a sports stadium and the surprise arrest of Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, an internationally known Iranian scholar, on charges of espionage.

>> In several broadcasts, Radio Farda aired interviews with student activists from Tehran University and reported on what appears to be a crackdown by authorities, with some university academics being dismissed from their posts and students banned from studies as well as being summoned to disciplinary and security committees. On May 2, student leader Abdollah Momeni told Radio Farda that: "The Iranian government is trying to limit freedom of expression and crush student dissent. [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's government and the Education Ministry are ordering actions to be taken by security organs that violate students' basic right to study. Students who have a critical view of the establishment, those who protest against government policies and search for democracy in Iran, do not have the possibility to study and be politically active." Mehdi Aminzadeh, expelled from Tehran University following intervention by Iran's Intelligence Ministry, told Radio Farda on April 26 that "continuing my studies is my right; I have the right to study in the country where I was born and where I live and I'm determined to do so. It is possible that there will be opportunities to study outside the country, but that doesn't mean that whoever is [politically] active in this country can be kept by the Intelligence Ministry from studying and be forced to leave the country."

>> Five grand clerics have criticized Iranian President Ahmadinejad's recent decree allowing women to watch games at sports stadiums. Radio Farda aired interviews with women who support the idea and focused on the debate this has stirred in Iran's ruling circles. Radio Farda spoke with Hojatoleslam Mohammad-Taghi Fazel Meybodi, member of the "'Society of Qom Seminary Teachers & Researchers", Iran's major pro-reform clerical-political establishment. Meybodi said he is in favor of improving women's rights and that several Grand Ayatollahs also would have supported Ahmadinejad's order, but refrained because it was introduced by a non-expert in religious issues and because it was not presented in the form of a bill to Iran's Majlis (parliament). Meybodi said "they felt there may be a violation of religious law and took the initiative to block the practice." Meybodi said he expects the decree to fail, be quietly set aside and forgotten.

>> Iranian authorities confirmed May 3 that internationally known scholar Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, missing for ten days since arriving at Tehran airport on a flight from India, has been arrested on espionage charges and is being held in Tehran's infamous Evin prison. On May 4, Radio Farda interviewed Dr. Abdol-Karim Lahiji, Vice President of the International Federation Of Human Rights. Lahiji, who was visiting Radio Farda's operations in Prague, said the espionage charge against Jahanbegloo is unfounded and that his arrest is due only to Jahanbegloo's criticism of the lack of democracy and human rights in Iran. Lahiji called on Iran to free Jahanbegloo immediately, or at the least, give him a fair trial with legal representation and respect for due process.

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

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