Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Prague, Czech Republic -- July 20, 2006) The crisis in the Middle East dominated most aspects of Radio Farda programming this week, eliciting a significant response from listeners in Iran, as well as Iranians living in other countries. Other topics addressed on Radio Farda included the hunger strike of dissident Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji, the fate of Afghan refugees in Iran and the first "Islamic Dress Exhibition for Women."
>> Radio Farda added 25 minutes of news and analysis to its 7:00PM (Tehran time) evening news program, to provide in-depth coverage of the fighting in Gaza and Lebanon. This special programming has included interviews and reports from Radio Farda correspondents in Washington, Jerusalem, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, Stockholm and major cities inside Iran (see the special "Heard This Week in Iran on Radio Farda" issue for July 14).
>> On July 16, Radio Farda aired a special analytical program, featuring interviews with three experts: Tehran University Middle East studies professor Hassan Hashemian analyzed Israel's goals, Syria's role and possible outcomes of the conflict; London-based Middle East expert Alireza Nurizadeh shared insights on Hezbollah and Iran's role in the founding of the organization and support of its operations, including the fact that Hezbollah's missiles are made in Iran; and Royal Military College of Canada professor Hooshang Hassanyari discussed ways of verifying that a long-range, ground-to-sea missile fired by Hezbollah at an Israeli warship was made in Iran and the political implications of such a finding.
>> In Washington, Radio Farda spoke to Council on Foreign Relations Middle East expert Judith Kipper, who analyzed for listeners the conflict raging between Israel and Hezbollah. Kipper noted, in the interview that aired on July 17, that "Syria and Iran are patrons of Hezbollah," adding that "We're still in the phase of escalation and it is extremely dangerous and quite devastating to both Lebanon and Israel" (rtsp://realaudio.rferl.org/ch21/20060717-1930FRD.rm?start=02:28&end=05:33)
>> Radio Farda's weekly "Question of the Week" segment asked listeners for their views on "Should Iran get involved in the current crisis?" The station in Prague received several hundred e-mails, letters and phone calls, a jump over the average number of phone calls and e-mails which is roughly 100 a week. The overwhelming response to the question opposed Iranian involvement and demonstrated growing concern over how the crisis will impact Iran.
>> Radio Farda addressed the situation of the estimated 1.9 million Afghan refugees remaining in Iran on July 17 and an Iranian government project to repatriate the Afghans. Radio Farda interviewed two Afghan women refugees living in Tehran, who complained of discrimination against their children in schools, a refusal by employers to give even menial work to Afghan men, and the arbitrary arrest of Afghans even if they have residence permits to stay in Iran. Nevertheless, according to Iran's interior ministry, most of the Afghan refugees have so far refused to go back to their homeland.
>> Dissident Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji, on tour in Europe and the United States after his recent release from prison, declared a hunger strike in London and New York aimed at convincing the Iranian regime to free political prisoners. Many opposition groups in Iran and abroad joined the action. Radio Farda aired daily reports on the hunger strikers July 14-16 that featured live interviews with Ganji, a student activist in Tehran, a women's rights activist in Tehran, and the former dean of Tehran University who has now become a dissident activist. A Radio Farda reporter was in New York to cover a protest in support of Ganji at the United Nations building, while Radio Farda correspondents in Iran reported on similar gatherings of Ganji supporters in Sanandaj in Iran's Kordestan province, and in Tabriz province.
In Washington, Ganji was presented the National Press Club's international John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award on July 17, "for his courageous reporting on top government officials in his country." After receiving the award, Ganji told Radio Farda that he hopes his own country will one day recognize the good work of Iranian journalists (http://www.radiofarda.com/iran_article/2006/7/a0881538-5e9a-4f8e-aeb9-71b62c1d8ba4.html). In a separate interview on July 18, Ganji told Radio Farda that he had met with senior U.N. officials, to discuss Iran's violation of human rights and his view that Iran does not wish to engage in another war (http://www.radiofarda.com/iran_article/2006/7/3cab3b1d-efb1-4fee-98a8-9703f9697001.html)
>> Iranian authorities staged for the first time an "Islamic Dress Exhibition for Women" in Tehran in an attempt to curb what law enforcers called "vulgar dress habits" and impose a strict dress code on women. Listeners on July 18 heard a report by a Radio Farda correspondent who attended the exhibition and spoke to visitors there. Most of those interviewed told Radio Farda that the exhibits were old-fashioned and that they disliked the dull colors of grey and black. On the other hand, Radio Farda reported, many of the women attending the exhibition were buying the cheaper clothing on display, saying they would wear the dress to work in government offices and to attend classes at Tehran University.
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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