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Heard This Week - 04/20/2006

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Prague, Czech Republic -- April 20, 2006) Radio Farda's major stories this week were views of Iranians on their government's pledge to aid the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Territories, continued work on the country's nuclear program, and reinforcement of the strict Islamic dress code for women.

>> Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Motaki announced at the end of an international conference on aid to Palestinians hosted by Iran on April 16�that his government is donating $50 million to the Palestinian Authority to bridge a shortfall left by Western withholding of financial support. Radio Farda's weekly "Viewpoint" talk show April 18 discussed the issue with Mashallah Shamsolvazein, the head of a Tehran-based media defense group. Shamsolvezein defended the Iranian government's right to make such a donation. Radio Farda also interviewed former Information Minister Dariush Homayoon in Geneva, who opposed any support for a government espousing terrorism. On a separate call-in program, several listeners seemed angry about the donation, as in this message left by a woman: "I'm calling from Shiraz and I want to speak about our (country's) oil revenue, which [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is giving to Palestine. We don't agree with this. This is people's money and should be spent on people's needs."

>> Iranian students in Tehran expressed mixed views to Radio Farda about president Ahmadinejad's announcement that Iran has successfully enriched uranium. At a science and engineering college, students celebrated the achievement. But Iran's largest pro-reform student group, the Office To Foster Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat, DTV), expressed concern about political consequences and called for a "temporary suspension of all nuclear activities." During an interview with Radio Farda, aired April 16, a DTV central committee spokesman said: "The irrational and confrontational behavior of those who are in power has put the country and the nation on the threshold of a war or devastating sanctions; the referral of Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council was the result of Iran's biggest foreign-policy mistake."

>> A dedicated phone line for Radio Farda's weekly "Your Voice" program records on average 100 calls a day from listeners all over Iran. During the April 17 program, most calls were about the nuclear issue. Here's a sampling: One man -- "I congratulate all Iran's honorable people and the zealous youth of Iran for Iran's joining the nuclear powers." A truck driver -- "I can swear that the youth weren't happy at all (about the uranium enrichment news); on the contrary, they got extremely upset. Isn't there anything more necessary than atomic energy? Don't you see how poor and desperate people are living?" Another man -- "It is the natural right of any country to exploit atomic energy for peaceful purposes, not to mention to make nuclear weapons." Another man -- "Considering its vast natural resources, Iran is in no need of a peaceful nuclear program."

>> On April 18, Radio Farda broadcast a report on young people's responses to a recent police announcement of a crackdown against violators of Iran's strict Islamic dress code. About 100 women have been demonstrating daily at the Iranian parliament for enforcement of the dress code, accusing offenders of "spreading corruption and prostitution." But young Tehran residents who spoke to Radio Farda were dismissive. A youth, identified as Akhbar said the police action will not last and young people will eventually dress as they like," and that "later there will be freedom again." A young woman named Azar complained to Radio Farda that the campaign "will only cause stress and anxiety for the young generation. For example, [young people] will think, 'If I go out, I will get arrested; I'd better not to go out.' It�s a bit depressing."
Dr. Amanollah Gharayi Moghadam, a professor of sociology in Tehran, told RFE/RL that tighter enforcement of the dress code could lead to confrontation. He said "young people don�t accept it... not only in the northern part of the city but also in the southern [poorer and generally more conservative] parts, we can more or less see it."
Tehran Police chief Mortaza Talaei has said that, under the new plan, even taxi services that transport "improperly clad" women will be punished. Among other things, the code prohibits women from smoking a waterpipe in public, carrying domestic pets on the street and failing to wear socks in public. The punishment for convicted offenders is as much as two months in prison, a lashing, or a fine.

For more on these and other coverage of 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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