Published on German public service TV channel ARD (broadcast “KONTRASTE”) on 24 June 2010
Source, with video (German):

Only recently, the UN and the EU have again tightened the sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The federal government also calls for “restraint” on business with Iran. But German companies want continue to expand the Iran business and use the United Arab Emirates as a discreet location for the transactions.

“As annoying as flies” – this is Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s description for the economic sanctions against his country over its nuclear program. “We will resist, ‘he says. There is a reason for his arrogance: despite the most severe sanctions, Iran seems to find ways and means to continue bringing high technology into the country. Via a loophole, German companies also continue to cheerfully do business with Iran.

René Althammer, Benedict Maria Mülder, Susanne Katharina Opalka.

Tehran, June 2009 – Citizens are protesting against the regime’s vote rigging and are brutally confronted and beaten. The pictures of a female protester that was shot dead go around the world. The Federal Chancellor is appalled by the human rights abuses.

Angela Merkel (CDU), Federal Chancellor, 25 June 2009
“I believe to speak on everyone’s behalf when I tell those who want to hold peaceful demonstrations in Iran: We are at your side.”

The dictatorship carries out missile tests to demonstrate their power. Iran relies on nuclear weapons. The Chancellor welcomes the recent UN sanctions.

Angela Merkel (CDU), Federal Chancellor, 11 June 2010
“The key goal of this resolution is to by means of diplomacy prevent Iran from further working on its nuclear program.”

For the native Iranian and MP Omid Nouripour (Green Party), this is merely a lip service, because despite all the protests, Iran still is a huge market for Germany.

Omid Nouripour (B‘90/Die Grünen), MP
“While the Federal Government is doing everything in their power to stop the Iranian nuclear program for the reason that it is a threat, lively trade with Iran is continuing to take place, providing the Iranian government with the required funds and technology it needs to stay in power.”

Dubai City, United Arabic Emirates. This country is currently Germany’s most important trading partner in the Persian Gulf region – and at the same time, it is Iran’s gateway to the world. While previously German exports used to go directly to Iran, since the politcal pressure on the mullah regime has increased, the more unobtrusive route via Dubai is being used more and more often today.

This was confirmed by the Vice-President of the Iranian Business Council in Dubai. He is satisfied that the business is booming despite all opposition.

Morteza Masoumzadeh, Iranian Business Council, Dubai
“Many German business people conduct their business with Iran through Dubai. Iran is a big country, it has many buyers, and they all want to do business.”

The German-Emirati Dubai Chamber of Commerce promotes the expansion of this business. The then Minister of economics, Guttenberg, even traveled to the Gulf for the grand opening in May 2009. A few months later, the Chamber invites to the high-class Monarch Hotel. The guests: 15 Iranian and German business representatives. The topic: German-Iranian trade relations via Dubai.

A protocol that was made available to KONTRASTE documents the course of the talks. Particularly noteworthy: one participant suggested, given the current situation a more “unorthodox way of thinking should be exerted, particularly when it comes to financial transactions…” and recommended “to make use of Iran’s presence here in Dubai” in order “to establish contacts.”

KONTRASTE contacted Peter Göpfrich, managing director of the Chamber of Commerce, to find out what exactly was the meaning of “unorthodox”. Göpfrich declined an interview. In writing, he told us: unfortunately, an “incomplete and misleadingly formulated protocol resulted in wrong conclusions… and does not on every point reflect the position of Chamber of Commerce.”

Omid Nouripur has doubts about this interpretation.

Omid Nouripour (B‘90/Die Grünen), MP
“The representatives of the Chamber are interested in doing business, because they know as well that politicians do not usually take very close looks. Thus, it is all the more important that the federal government watches the business via Dubai to Iran very carefully and no longer looks away.”

Looking away – this is exactly what the ministry of economics, which co-funds the Chamber with taxpayer’s money, is doing. The explanation about the allegedly “misleading protocol” is enough to satisfy the ministry.

More than 4,000 Iranian companies have their headquarters in Dubai. Many work directly for the mullahs’ regime. They use the sixth-largest port in the world on the outskirts of Dubai City – a huge loophole to evade the sanctions against Iran.

Omid Nouripour (B‘90/Die Grünen), MP
“Dubai is a wonderful transshipment point to avoid the sanctions of the UN as well as those of the EU.”

This view is backed by the Federal Criminal Police Office. In an assessment, it warned some time ago that the Emirates are being used as “circumvention territory” for armaments – meaning that smuggling is prospering.

The Iranians are trying to buy advanced technology for their missile and nuclear programs, because the sanctions prohibit delivery.

At the Customs Criminal Office in Cologne. Here, the nationwide investigation into illegal shipments to Iran is being coordinated. The investigators have an accurate picture of what the Iranians are particularly interested in.

Wolfgang Schmitz, Customs Criminal Office, Cologne
“When we look at the focus of Iran’s attempts to obtain [sanctioned goods], we see that they are particularly interested in uranium enrichment, meaning that they are after constructing an atomic bomb. The second part is linked to the field of missile technology – we repeatedly noticed that Iran tries to increase the range of their missile program by using technology from Western Europe.”

These confiscated tubes were destined for Iran as well. They are important components for the gas ultra centrifuge for uranium enrichment – just like this high-purity graphite.

Wolfgang Schmitz, Customs Criminal Office, Cologne
“In the preliminary proceedings of the past – also in proceedings that are being brought to court right now – we observed that suppliers, or agents, or intermediaries acting on behalf of Iran, frequently propose a seemingly uncritical corridor for goods transport via Dubai, where, with the help of front companies, it is quite simple to disguise the actual routes.”

The Iranian nuclear and armament programs as well as the oppression of the population would hardly be possible without the booming trade through Dubai.

Omid Nouripour (B‘90/Die Grünen), MP
“In terms of security policy, of human rights policy, and economic policy it is short-sighted to allow this business to go on like that.”

Published in German weekly trade journal “Computerwoche” on 23 June 2010
Source (German):
English translation: @germantoenglish

Zhila Bani Yaghoub, Iranian blogger and journalist

The Iranian female blogger Zhila Bani Yaghoub received this year’s “Reporters without Borders Award”. The regime in Tehran recently sentenced her to one year in prison and a 30 year professional ban.

According to the verdict of the 26. court of the Tehran Revolutionary Court Bani Yaghoub is guilty of “propaganda against the state leadership”. Bani Yaghoub was informed about her sentence on June 8. She is going to file an appeal against the verdict.

Bani Yaghoub, journalist and human rights acitivist, runs the blog “We are journalists”. The blog takes a critical look at the situation in Iran. On June 22 the human rights organization “Reporters without borders” awarded her for her journalistic activities in [the German city of] Bonn.

Bani Yaghoub was not allowed to leave the country to attend the award ceremony on June 22. Her speech (see below) was read out during the ceremony. She states that “more than 40 other journalists and bloggers are imprisoned in Iran” apart from herself. Some have been sentenced to six or even nine years imprisonment, others are facing similar sentences.

In 2009, Reporters without Borders (ROG) has counted 60 countries in which the internet is being censored – twice as many as the year before. The “Open Net Initiative” (ONI), supported by the renowned universities of Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto, has counted about 40 countries. For comparison: In 2002 only two countries implemented restrictions of internet freedom, according to ONI.

About 120 bloggers are currently imprisoned world wide, among them 72 internet dissidents in China, says the report “Enemies of the Internet” that was published on Thursday.

“Dear Journalists and Bloggers from all over the world”

first of all, I would like to tell you that I am writing this note to you after I was recently sentenced to one year in prison – and banned from practicing journalism for 30 years – by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Revolutionary Court. One of the reasons they named for handing me this harsh sentence was the articles I wrote on my weblog, the weblog that Reporters Without Borders chose as the best blog from among Deutsche Welle’s International Blog Awards, The BOBs. On this blog I wrote about people’s protests against the disputed presidential election in Iran last year.

Currently, more than 40 journalists and webloggers are imprisoned in Iran. Some of them have been sentenced to six or even nine years in prison, and still others are expecting similar court sentences. These prisoners did not commit any crime; they simply pursued the career and duties of a journalist.

One of these imprisoned journalists is my husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouee. He was arrested during the post-election crisis. My husband was sentenced to 34 lashes, along with seven years and four months in prison. His greatest crime was publishing critical articles about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government on his personal weblog and in Iranian dailies. For one year now, he has been held in prison – alongside many other journalists – for no legitimate reason.

I would like to thank Reporters Without Borders for awarding me this prize, and I would like to dedicate my prize to my imprisoned husband, Bahman, and to all imprisoned Iranian bloggers, especially Shiva Nazar Ahari. Thank you so much.”

Bani Yaghoubs Persian blog provides latest information on the situation in Iran, focusing on social and women-related issues, writes media service “Meedia”. “Zhila is a pioneer for freedom of opinion in her country”, said Lucie Morillon, head of the ROG department “New Media” during the proclamation of the winners of the “Best of the Blogs” competition.

According to ROG, more than one year after the contested victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections of 2009, the extent of repression and prosecution of critical voices in Iran is dramatic: More than 170 Iranian journalists and bloggers were arrested in the past 12 months. 38 of them are still in prison. More than 100 media professionals left the Islamic Republic since the presidential elections. (jm)

Published on the website of German public service radio channel “Deutschlandradio” on 20 June 2010
Source (German):
English translation by @germantoenglish

One year ago, on 20 June 2009, the student Neda Agha Soltan was shot dead during a protest in Tehran. Since then, no action has been taken by Iranian authorities to solve this crime, says Amnesty International. Despite extensive evidence like videos and numerous eyewitness reports, the regime has so far inhibited an independent investigation of the case. Instead, Tehran continues to blame broadcasting agencies like BBC and CNN for Neda’s death. According to Amnesty International, this case is paradigmatic for the human rights abuses in Iran.

Published on the website of German weekly magazine “Spiegel” on 17 June 2010
Source (German):,1518,701302,00.html
English translation kindly provided by Elli M. and Thomas Adolf

Filmmaker Darioush Shokof, who is living in exile in Germany, claims that he was kidnapped by Iranian secret agents. The police doubts his statement. However, Shokof does not accept to be silenced and wants to publish his film “Iran zendan”, in which he criticizes the Iranian regime, in the Internet.

Filmmaker Shokof: Kidnapped by mullah supporters? (AFP)

Hamburg/Berlin: The story of the Iranian filmmaker Darioush Shokof, who disappeared for some time without a trace, sounds like a bizarre spy tale from the Cold War. Whereas the filmmaker claims that he was kidnapped, the police says that they are investigating in all directions. The Cologne-based newspaper “Kölnische Rundschau” cites an investigator who believes that the filmmaker has possibly staged his own kidnapping: “He has great financial problems.” Shokof in turn demanded that the investigations be steered “in the right direction”.

Now, the director has announced that he will publish his film “Iran zendan”, in which he criticizes the Iranian regime, on the Internet. The 70-minute production would become available soon for a small fee, said the 57 year-old man in a press conference in Berlin on Thursday. “Iran zendan” deals with the abuse of political prisoners in Iranian detention centers. Initially, Shokof had planned to launch his film for cinema screening.

He would not bend to the mullah regime, said Shokof. The director who lives in Berlin believes that he was kidnapped by followers of the Iranian regime. Earlier, there had been some unusual incidents. There was a housebreaking into the apartment of a friend who lived in Shokof’s house. Shokof’s passport had been stolen and someone had told him that his life was in danger.

The filmmaker says that several Arabic-speaking men forced him into a car on the evening of 24th May, and then drove him to an apartment where he was held for several days. According to Shokof, the kidnappers told him that he insulted the Iranian regime with his films and asked him to prevent the screening of his work. Shokof suddenly resurfaced almost two weeks later. He supposes that his liberation was due to the considerable media attention for his case.


Published at German public service TV channel “ARD” in their news broadcast “Tagesschau” on 13 June 2010
Source (German):

On the anniversary of the disputed re-election of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, exiled Iranians protested in many places around the globe. Allegedly there were no protests inside Iran, although many people were arrested. The police commander announced 91 arrests, but did not disclose the reasons.

By Ulrich Pick, ARD Radio Studio Istanbul

This picture shows a protest staged by exiled Iranians in Tokyo on the anniversary of the disputed election. Pictures from inside Iran are not available. (Photo: AFP)

It is official since this morning: Again many people were arrested yesterday on the anniversary of the disputed presidential election in Iran. This was reported by ISNA news agency with reference to police commander Hossein Sajadinia, who announced that 91 people were arrested. Deputy police commander Ahmad Reza Radan confirmed this, adding that “despite the propaganda of the enemy” there have been no demonstrations or riots.

Demonstrations of the Opposition Banned
Initially, opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi had called for silent marches and officially requested for authorisation. But no permission was granted by the authorities, whereupon Moussavi and Karroubi called off the protests in order to not put lives and health of protesters at risk.

On Saturday, an increased presence of security forces was observed in all major squares. The Revolutionary Guards had previously warned they would strictly confront any protests. Several days ago reports circulated saying that the government recruited more than 1 million volunteers to disrupt and disperse any protest, if necessary, by force. In a press conference by opposition websites, Moussavi and Karroubi demanded more freedom and democracy for the country.

The opposition still accuses the government of massive ballot fraud and refuses to acknowledge the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the disputed vote one year ago, Iran had faced the most widespread demonstrations after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. 30 people died according to official announcements by the government. The opposition names at least 79 proven cases of death, although in fact up to 200 could possibly have been killed.

EU Representative for Foreign Affairs: After 2009 the situation has significantly deteriorated
Approximately 4000 people were arrested during and after the protests, about 200 of them were already sentenced – among them numerous journalists and bloggers, but also former reformist ministers. Catherine Ashton, EU representative for foreign affairs, expressed concern about the situation in Iran. The human rights situation in Iran has significantly deteriorated after the elections of June 2009, she said.

Published on the website of German public service TV channel “ZDF” on 12 June 2010
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

First anniversary of disputed presidential election in Iran

(ZDF, Anja Carmanns)

By Halim Hosny

One year ago, Iranians elected a new president. This day is a special day in the history of the Islamic theocracy, because it marks the beginning of an unprecedented wave of protests against the leadership of the Mullah regime.

To the great dismay of many, the state-run TV on the very night of the election day announced a landslide victory of the ultra conservative incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His opponent Mir Hossein Moussavi lagged far behind. Until the last minute, election observers had predicted a neck-and-neck race. The opposition has not the only one to talk of massive vote fraud since. The event was followed by peaceful protests of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country. Green, the color of the campaign of reformist candidate Moussavi, dominated the streets.

Ruling with an iron fist
Even senior mullahs protested. Although the critics around the powerful chairman of the Expediency Council Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani are still a minority, the sole fact that the inner circle of the leadership is experiencing rifts is in itself an evidence for the deep crisis that the Islamic Republic has been going through since last year.

The elderly revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the supreme authority in the theocratic state. His word is law. From the very beginning, he ostentatiously backed his political pupil Ahmadinejad. He called for a severe confrontation of all daring to protest against the leadership. With mass arrests, show trials, torture, rape, and executions the regime cracked down on the supporters of the reform movement.

Who is the reform movement?
It seems as if this strategy bears fruit. Many young people avoid the streets as much as possible. Recently the moral police has returned to the streets, searching for polished nails or improper hijabs. Those who get caught will be arrested or have to pay heavy fines.

The majority of the 3.5 million students, large parts of the middle class, and intellectuals form the backbone of the movement. They long for more freedom. And Mir Hossein Moussavi, the otherwise rather uncharismatic politician, has become their figurehead. With creative actions and protest marches they repeatedly managed to be present in the streets and in the headlines. Meanwhile, however, this seems to be over. The regime seems to have prevailed, at least for now.

A weakened movement?
The fact that Moussavi and other spokesmen of the opposition have called off the planned countrywide protests on this anniversary on short notice shows that the continuous repression has not failed to be effective. The movement is weakened, and some believe that it is also defeated. Their protests have long withdrawn to virtual spaces – the internet is their network.

The children of the revolution are lively, creative, and imaginative. Whether this is enough to challenge the vast power apparatus again seems questionable today. In order to succeed, the opposition depends on the support of the rural population and the poor. The latter have so far backed Ahmadinejad, and until today this has not changed.

Fewer and fewer people believe in a victory of the green movement. More and more people instead try to flee. The wave of emigration could reach a new peak this summer. The unpopular president will surely not mind.

Published in Austrian daily “Der Standard” on 11 June 2010
Source (German):

Green is the color of the Iranian opposition - these women identify themselves as reform supporters by their green headbands. Demonstrations on the anniversary of the election have been banned.

Saturday marks the anniversary of the disputed presidential elections – protests were called off.

But the opposition is as strong as before. It is avoiding confrontations and playing for time.

On the eve of the anniversary of the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian regime had planned to demonstrate force and unity. The elections that took place on June 12 of last year had caused the largest protests in the 30 years after the Islamic Revolution, and the celebrations on the 21. anniversary of the death of Revolutionary Leader Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini came at just the right time to stage a celebration of unity. But it did not turn out that way.

Revolutionary Guards units from all over the country were ordered to travel to Tehran with kith and kin to gather at Khomeini’s tomb. They were supposed to be millions, but only around 100,000 showed up. When Khomeini’s grandson was greeting the guests at the shrine of his grandfather, supporters of Ahmadi-Nejad heckled him to prevent him from delivering his speech. The reason: After the disputed elections he had openly sided with the opposition and described the presidential elections as rigged. He cut short his speech, his family left the event in protest.

For the opposition, this incident of last week, that was broadcast on TV live, was another opportunity to declare that the president still has a problem of legitimacy. Despite arrests and executions, the opposition has gained ground in all strata of the society.

By the regime is now very aware about how strong the opposition is, despite all repressions. For days now, the regime’s nervousness is apparent. Armed security forces are patrolling all intersections in Tehran and other cities, trying to prevent people from gathering in groups.

Protests planned by eight opposition groups were banned. Opposition leaders MirHossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi called off a planned major demonstration in order to prevent bloodshed. Zahra Rahnavard, Moussavi’s wife, in an open letter called on the government to change its course and accept the people’s wish for more democracy. She also demanded the release of arrested protesters who have been imprisoned for months.

The opposition purposely avoids all confrontation and plays for time. And indeed, the differences among the conservatives seem to be bigger than ever. The leaderships of the government and the parliament accuse each other of violating the constitution, each group refers to itself as the true advocate of Khomeini’s heritage.

Since the family of the founder of the Islamic Republic sided with the opposition, the spiritual leader and his entourage have lost their exclusive right to Khomeini’s heritage. After the dissent on the anniversary of his death, the rifts among the conservatives became apparent even to ordinary people in the most remote areas of the country.

A founding member of the Imam-Khomeini shrine hit Mostafa Najar, the Interior Minister, in the face – in front of the eyes of thousands of pilgrims and the cameras, when the latter attempted to prevent Khomeini’s grandson from delivering his speech. Even though the Saturday protests were called off: It is going to be a hot summer in Iran. There are enough reasons to fuel new confrontations.

(N. N.* from Tehran/DER STANDARD, printed edition of June 12, 2010)

* For security reasons we can not disclose the name of our correspondent.

Published in German local daily “Kölnische Rundschau” (Cologne) on 6 June 2010
Source (German):

Iranian filmmaker Daryush Shokof, who had been missing for several days, is alive. 55-year old Shokof was found late Saturday evening on the banks of the Rhine river in the suburb Cologne-Porz – completely soaked, and in a bad physical condition.

Cologne – Daryush Shokof, the 55-year old Iranian filmmaker who had been missing for days, is alive, although in a poor physical condition, according to information provided to Rundschau by police circles.

The 55-year old was found on the banks of the Rhine river in Porz, a suburb of Cologne, on late Saturday evening. Witnesses had called the police after they discovered a completely soaked person on Rheinberg street at about 11:15 p.m. The headquarters of the Cologne police thereupon started an operation under the heading “helpless person”. Police officers in situ called an ambulance, and Shokof was transferred to a hospital. Reportedly the Iranian filmmaker is not seriously injured. “We do not know how he got there. He has not yet told us anything”, a policeman informed Rundschau. The filmmaker and regime critic had been missing without a trace since late May. He had been last seen at the Cologne central station, after that his trace went cold. He had intended to travel to Paris.



Another article on this subject was published in the local daily Kölner Stadtanzeiger on 6 June.

English summary by Anusche Noring:
According to this article, three teenage pupils first discovered Shokof, who approached them with drenched clothes and in a disoriented state, reiterating in English: “My name is Shokof, call the police, I’m kidnapped.”

Published in German daily “Welt” on 4 June 2010
Source (German):
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

With his disputed re-election in 2009 Iran “actually broke the world record in democracy”, says the Iranian president.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a rally (photo: dpa)

Harsh criticism and threats: The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has condemned Israel’s attack on the aid convoi to Gaza as “insane”. In a speech he delivered on occasion of the 21. anniversary of the death of Revolutionary Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad also targeted the opposition inside the country, warning them to not stage any protests on the anniversary of the disputed presidential elections. “Those who oppose the Islamic system will not survive”, he said at the Imam-Khomeini shrine in Tehran on Friday.

He referred to his last year’s re-election, that was criticized inside and outside the country, as “the most democratic election in the world”. “Actually, with this election we broke the world record in democracy”. The Iranian opposition claims Ahmadinejad won the June 12 election through massive vote fraud, and rallied against the election results for weeks. Dozens of people lost their lives in the protests.

Referring to the attack of Israeli forces on the Gaza flotilla that left nine activists dead earlier this week, the Iranian president described this act as a result of “weakness and insanity”. The attack showed that Israel has “lost the last bit of reason”, said Ahmadinejad.

He affirmed that he expects Israel to collapse soon. In the past 60 years, this country has committed “inhumane crimes” and will be “erased” by its neighbors after it collapsed, Ahmadinejad added.

At the same time, he warned the West to not support Israel further. “All countries that still support this criminal regime should stop, otherwise they will be brought to court as war criminals”. Several tens of thousands of people had gathered at the Imam-Khomeini Shrine in South Tehran on occasion of the commemoration for the Revolutionary Leader.

According to state-run television, a major demonstration against Israel was scheduled to take place after the ceremony. Ahmadinejad highlighted Khomeini’s role in the revolution, saying that Khomeini never gave in to political pressure of imperialist powers. “The Imam (Khomeini) started a new movement that will continue until it has become globalized”, said Ahmadinejad.

The atmosphere got agitated when Khomeini’s grandson Hassan entered the podium. He is close to the opposition reformists and is regarded as a critic of Ahmadinejad. Right from the beginning, his speech was interrupted several times and eventually completely stopped by regime supporters. Ayatollah Khomeini was the driving force behind the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that toppled the Shah.


Published on the website of German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” on 4 June 2010
Source (German):
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

On the 21. anniversary of the death of Khomeini, the founder of the state, Iran’s hardliners issued harsh threats against the opposition. The opposition leaders were not present at the ceremony.

by Martin Gehlen

Threats against the opposition: Revolutionary leader and hardliner Khamenei (in front of a photo of Khomeini, the founder of the state) - © /AFP/Getty Images

One week prior to the first anniversary of the controversial presidential election, Iran’s revolutionary leader Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have delivered severe warnings to the opposition. During a commemoration ceremony on occasion of the 21. anniversary of the death of the state’s founding father Ayatollah Khomeini, Khamenei accused the green movement of trampling the ideals of the Islamic Republic. Referencing the Quran, he described the protests as “a rebellion” and for the first time threatened the opposition leaders with the death penalty.

In his speech, that was broadcast live on state television, Khamenei recalled that some of Khomeini’s associates who were on the airplane with him when he traveled from Paris to Tehran in 1979 were executed only months later for their betrayal of the Revolution. “The same standards still apply today.” He wished to point out especially to the youth that all attacks against the Islamic Republic of the past 30 years could not in the least shake the foundations of the state.

Ahmadinejad described his re-election one year ago as “hundred per cent democratic”. Those who deviate from the Imam’s path will be banished by the people, he said in the presence of the entire leadership, while the crowd chanted “We will not leave you alone”. Among the audience were former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is close to the green movement, and Ahmadinejad’s conservative opposing candidate Mohsen Rezai. Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Moussavi, and ex president Mohammad Khatami were not present. With last year’s elections “we broke the world record in democracy”, Ahmadinejad said, adding that the Iranian government is the most democratic in the world.

Shortly thereafter, however, Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, was forced to abandon his speech after a few minutes as he was heckled by chants of “Death to Moussavi” from the regime-organized crowd. The 38-year old cleric is the director of the shrine of his grandfather, that is situated on the outskirts of Tehran. He is regarded as a supporter of Mir Hossein Moussavi. Last year, he and the entire Khomeini family demonstratively stayed away from Ahmadinejad’s official inauguration.

The Iranian leadership announced that it gathered 2 million people from all over the country to attend the ceremony today. According to the head of the Tehran traffic police, about 50.000 buses and minibuses were used. Apparently, hundreds of thousands of the deployed basij militas are to remain in the capital until next week in order to thwart any attempt of the green movement to stage new protests against the rigged re-election of Ahmadinejad on 12 June.

Thursday evening, hardliners threatened opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi when he was visiting the shrine. According to Fars news agency, the attackers chanted “Death to the hypocrites”. Karroubi’s bodyguards escorted the cleric back to his car to take him to safety.

(An article taken from Tagesspiegel)

Published in German weekly newspaper “Zeit” on 2 June 2010
Source (German):
(An article from Tagesspiegel)
English translation provided by @germantoenglish

With the anniversaries of Khomeini’s death and the disputed presidential elections ahead, the regime in Tehran is facing a new trial of strength with the opposition.

They called for a protest rally in Tehran: Iran's oppostion leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi (left) and Mehdi Karroubi

by Martin Gehlen
Recently during prime time, in the state TV program “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”, an Iranian regime cleric sneered at the Green Movement, claiming that it resembles a “trampled snake”. “Currently it is calm. But it is waiting for the next opportunity.” Indeed: A leaden calm has descended on the country. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karoubi and Mohammad Khatami are maintaining a low profile.

The regime seemed to once and for all have gained the upper hand in the worst domestic crisis since the founding of the Islamic Republic. Now, however, reformist politcians are getting ready for the next trial of force that could present Iran with a second politically hot summer.

Friday will mark the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the state. The week after that, on July 12, follows the first anniversary of the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This week, the regime plans to rally 2 million supporters for a huge celebration on the premises of the Imam Khomeini shrine near Tehran – a new opportunity for the green supporters to be present. Ali Khamenei himself will lead the Friday mass prayer, almost a year after his last public appearance in the central prayer hall at Tehran University, when he unconditionally defended the results of the presidential election and openly threatened the opposing candidates Moussavi and Karroubi.

They, however, still seem unimpressed, even though all of their closest staff members have meanwhile been detained. They called for a protest rally in Tehran on June 12 and applied for a respective permit with the provincial governor. Together with former president Khatami they call for fresh elections, release of all political prisoners, and free media.

Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, in a demonstrative act, once again had the speech he held at the Friday mass prayer that he lead in July 2009 uploaded to his website. The trust of the Iranian people was “lost” and must be “regained”, and “the elections left a bad taste in everybody’s mouths”, he then said in the presence of Moussavi.

“There are still enormous internal political tensions”, says Thierry Coville, French Iran specialist at the Paris-based “Institute for International and Strategic Relations”. A large part of the public services is demotivated, since civil servants don’t see any political perspective, he says. While the green movement as a result of the severe pressure has been put on the defensive, the “the initial discontent amongst the population is still on a high level, and very widespread”, he adds.

Apart from the unresolved political conflicts, the desolate economic situation has also contributed to this. Only recently, Ahmadinejad’s appearance in the oil city and seaport of Khorramshahr was interrupted by a protesting crowd chanting “we are unemployed”. The President’s appearances are usually tightly stage-managed; slogans are limited to “Allah is great” or “down with USA and Israel”. However, inflation has reached double figures, the official unmeployment rate is 11 %, in reality it is more than twice as high. Looming economic sanctions of the UN Security Council could further exacerbate the situation.

Opposition leader Moussavi denounced the social situation saying that Iran is currently witnessing “a decline of investment, increasing corruption, and the spreading of lies and incompetence”. Workers are not being paid, factories are forced to introduce short-time working or are shut down completely. Mehdi Karroubi seconded this on his website, stating that “Ahmadinejad was not chosen, but appointed – he lacks any legitimacy.”