SHARGH
The daily Shargh ("East") is considered to be aligned with the reformist-moderate forces in Iran, and has been shut down periodically in the past by government authorities. It is published in Tehran, where it was founded in 2003.
Society

Iranian Man Divorces Wife For Using Instagram, Remarries ... Happens Again!

TEHRAN — An Iranian man who divorced his first wife over her "secretive" use of Instagram is now ending his second marriage for the same reason.

Tehran-based Shargh daily cited the anonymous man from an unnamed city as admitting he had a "good life" with his first wife, until he found she was on Instagram without his knowing.

The Shargh article of May 6 reported that the discovery of the social media activity, and subsequent divorce, left the man "in shock for a few months ... I came to hate online networks."

After meeting his current wife, he said she agreed to marry under his stated condition that she avoid all social media. He told the daily, "We had no differences," until his wife "broke all her promises. She once told me she would like to open an Instagram page. I reminded her she was not allowed to do that." She did anyway, and after noticing "suspicious behavior," the man used a friend's Instagram account to find hers. The man said he would end this marriage too as his wife "had made me distrust her."

Twice the wives made their choice.

Azar Hadipur, a family counselor working with police in the province of Qazvin to the west of Tehran, told the newspaper that social networks had affected "practically all societies in recent years' and their "misuse" was harming couples. She suggested families shouldn't necessarily shun these platforms, but learn to use them properly.

Divorce law in the Islamic Republic of Iran are based on Sharia, and a woman can only seek divorce with a judge's order, while a man can get divorce by declaring it verbally. Estimates are that some 20% of Iranian marriages end in divorce. In the case of this one husband, twice a wife had to choose between him and social media. And twice, the wives made their choice. One is left asking: Is it social media, or the husband?

Society

Iranian Grandmother's Pardon Of Thieving Grandson Saves His Hand, Literally

There are the laws of the nation, then there's what grandma says. Those two codes collided in a recent case in Iran, where a grandmother who was robbed by her own grandson was ready to see him pay for the crime — until she found out the punishment was chopping off the young man's hand.

A jury had found the grandson, Farhad, and his friend Pourya guilty of entering the woman's home in Tehran four years ago, threatening to kill her and stealing gold and dollar bills, the newspaper Shargh reported this week.

Farhad's grandmother initially asked the court to show no mercy. "I won't forgive either of them," she told the judge, adding, "I am Farhad's grandmother and he is my grandson. How could he ... have attacked my house and frightened me like that? I still can't sleep at night."

The two men blamed each other for instigating the theft, with Pourya telling the court: "Farhad thought that even if his grandmother finds out, she would forgive him."

She would, eventually. The Supreme Court confirmed the amputation sentence for forced burglary — one of Iran's many brutal punishments for crimes. It is not unusual for plaintiffs to forego reprisals and pardon criminals. With death sentences, in particular, the judiciary may even encourage victims' relatives to pardon the killer.

In this case, the grandmother asked the courts to cancel her previous desire for justice: "I don't want Farhad to lose his hand." The court will now be considering a reduced sentence, without amputation for either the grandson or his accomplice. For this grandmother (but certainly not all), a little jail time will serve her precious grandson just about right.

Weird

With A Family Pardon 42 Years Later, Iranian Murderer Avoids Hanging

Iran carries out more executions than nearly any other country in the world. China, which treats its capital punishment data as a state secret, is believed to be the only country that uses the death penalty more often than the Islamic Republic, which counted 255 executions in 2020 for everything from non-violent drug offenses to political sedition to murder and rape.

Iranian law, however, also allows for someone sentenced to death to be pardoned by their accuser or family of the victim, though such instances are rare. In one highly publicized case in 2014 a convicted murderer already had the noose around his neck when the victim's mother slapped her son's killer and then she forgave him, sparing his life at the last moment.

A case late last month was also notable for its timing, Sharq newspaper reports, when the victim's family forgave his killer a full 42 years after the murder.

The killer, who confessed to killing the man in his garden during a 1979 argument, spent 33 years as a fugitive before being captured in 2012. The subsequent death sentence would have been carried out, but a court in Sanandaj, the capital of the province of Kurdistan, ordered his release, after the victim's family spent "many sessions' with an arbitration committee that identifies certain killings that might warrant a pardon.

Weird

Iranian Woman's 'Arranged Marriage' Is Scam To Rob Her In-Laws

TEHRAN — A 26-year-old Iranian woman suspected of more than a dozen thefts began by befriending wealthy female targets. But the plot for her big payday would require setting the trap for an unsuspecting young man.

Iranian newspaper Sharq reports that the woman, arrested last week for allegedly stealing 700,000 euros in cash and property, confessed to previous more modest thefts from the homes of 15 women in Tehran. Police identified the suspect as "Roxana," who admitted to befriending women in affluent neighborhoods and stealing items from their bedrooms, telling them she needed to "freshen up."

But her plans to target one particular well-to-do family would take a bit more time — and a much bigger lie. She aimed to seduce the family's son, and trick him into proposing marriage. The young man, Amirhossein, admitted to police that he "fell for her" fast.

She rented an apartment in an expensive Tehran district, where the marriage proposal took place.

Presumably to assuage concerns that she was after the family's money, the suspect rented an apartment in Farmanieh, an expensive district in northern Tehran, where the marriage proposal eventually took place, with unnamed accomplices posing as her family.

One day, she asked Amirhossein to wait for her outside the same rented flat for her to come outside. He waited for three hours while, according to police, she had slipped out of the building, gone to his family home and broken into the safe with keys she had stolen. She emptied almost 700,000 euros (3.5 billion tomans) worth of cash and valuables before being arrested. Amirhossein told police that Roxana had been "quiet and kind" right until the end.

Geopolitics

The Latest: Myanmar Embassy Trouble, N. Ireland Violence, Superman Record

Welcome to Thursday, where Myanmar turmoil reaches London, violence flares in Northern Ireland, and Superman sets a super record. Meanwhile, Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso uncovers how criminals, mafias and hackers are finding new ways to profit from the pandemic.

Myanmar ambassador locked out: Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn was reportedly locked out of his London embassy by representatives of the Myanmar military junta yesterday. He is now urging the British government to send the soldiers back to their home country. In Myanmar at least 11 pro-democracy protesters were killed in renewed clashed, taking the toll of civilians killed to over 600 since the Feb. 1 coup.

Biden to issue new gun restrictions: U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to disclose new gun restrictions — including on untraceable weapons — under pressure from Democrats and gun-control groups after a series of mass shootings hit the country.

Violence in Northern Ireland: British and Irish leaders are calling for calm after a group of youth set a bus on fire and attacked police with stones in Belfast, the latest in a series of violent riots that started last week amid rising tensions between political factions in the country.

Turkish failed coup sentences: At least 32 former Turkish soldiers have been sentenced to life in prison for their participation in the 2016 failed coup.

DR Congo's alarming hunger: UN agencies warn that over 27 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in western Africa, are affected by "emergency levels' of food insecurity.

Women more impacted by COVID: Two new studies show that many national governments are failing to consider sex or gender in their responses to the current pandemic. Previous studies have shown that women are disproportionately impacted by the sanitary crisis.

"Covering the Hate" with tattoos: Two Kentucky tattoo artists are being contacted from all over the world to cover up hate or gang-related tattoos for free. Their "Cover the Hate" campaign was inspired by the racial justice protests following the killing of George Floyd last May.

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Geopolitics

The Latest: Myanmar Tightens Grip, Trump Acquitted, World's Oldest Brewery

Welcome to Monday, where the Myanmar generals are tightening their grip, new COVID variants are identified and a very ancient watering hole is discovered in Egypt. We also have a Die Welt piece on the dark side of the dream of moving out to the countryside.

• COVID-19 latest: Researchers have identified seven new variants circulating in the United States, with similar genetic mutation to the more contagious strains found in the UK and South Africa. WHO investigators in China have discovered signs that the initial outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019 was much wider than previously thought.

• Myanmar military coup tightens: As armoured vehicles appear in several cities, Myanmar's military junta rushes through a series of changes to its penal code, warning anti-coup protesters they could face 20 years in prison if they obstruct armed force. Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer has announced the pro-democracy leader will be detained for a further two days before a trial via video link this week.

• Trump acquitted: Bipartisan support is growing for the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Capitol riots after former U.S. President Donald Trump was acquitted on Saturday of inciting an insurrection. Seven Republicans joined all 50 Democratic Senators in voting guilty, but fell short of the two-thirds majority required to convict.

• Indian climate activist arrested: Disha Ravi, 22, has been arrested on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy for sharing online "toolkit" with information on the farmers' protests, which had been tweeted by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

• WTO's new director: Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to be named director general of the World Trade Organization, the first African and woman to lead the WTO.

• Argentina mourns Menem: Argentina has declared three days of national mourning in honor of former president Carlos Menem, who has died at the age of 90. The charismatic leader served from 1989-1999.

• World's oldest brewery: Archeologists in Egypt discover what could be the world's oldest beer factory dating back about 5,000 years in Abydos, an ancient burial ground in the desert.

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Ideas

Terror In Tehran, Who Gains From Ugly New Middle East Twist

The two deadly suicide attacks in Tehran, at the Parliament and inside the mausoleum of Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, appeared as the latest in the litany of woes terrorists have brought to the Middle East. It may also mark a whole new chapter in the region.

Iranians, in spite of the political and economic turmoil around them, have so far remained protected from the worst kinds of urban terrorism affecting countries like Iraq or Afghanistan. Until Wednesday's attacks, which killed at least 17, terrorism was something they watched happen on television in Baghdad or London — or on rare occasions have flared along the borders with their troubled neighbors.

Iranian front pages Thursday featured prominent and sometimes graphic photographs of the response by police and soldiers. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, brushed aside the attacks, for which the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility, as "firecrackers," and said it would take more than that to cow Iran.

Shargh (Tehran), June 8, 2017

But the public response often differs from the official one, even in Iran, where criticizing the regime is no easy thing. Many Iranians might have wondered in private how a state that controls so much could have let up so dramatically on security, at the parliament of all places.

Writing in Le Monde, Franco-Iranian professor Farhad Khosrokhavar explains that Iran's role in foreign conflicts, particularly in Syria — where it supports Bashar al-Assad's government forces — but also in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Yemen, makes Tehran a "target of choice for jihadist groups, which see it as the main Shia enemy to be eliminated." Interestingly, Khosrokhavar also notes that even among the Iranian population, there are radicalized groups (Sunni Muslims from the drug trafficking hub Balochistan and Kurdish) with enough reasons and resources to carry out such attacks.

Some already have suggested a murkier plot. The Iranian version of Voice of America noted for instance that some Iranians writing on social media expressed doubts that ISIS had truly perpetrated the attacks. An Iranian in France said his first reaction was that this was a "home job." The skeptics cited by VOA include the former reformist lawmaker Jamileh Kadivar, who tweeted that the attackers must have had "inside accomplices."

Who knows where the truth lies? But we live in an age of high-tech rumors and long before alternative facts became fashionable, Iranians already loved rumors as much as they dislike dictatorship.

More prominent were criticisms of the state broadcasting body, which apparently was reluctant to even report the events. It had its head in the sand as one suggested on Twitter. A columnist in the reformist daily Shargh asked whether it was normal for the broadcaster to continue its usual programs — one of them on kindergartens — even as the attacks were unfolding, when CNN and foreign media were all abuzz with Iran?

The other emerging concern is whether or not the attacks will mean more restrictions on Iranians. This is a possibility, as one journalist told the Persian-language Kayhan daily in London. Just two days earlier Tehran had seen various angry gatherings, one outside the parliament, concerning banking and investment fraud.

The authorship of the attack and its consequences are two questions that be looked at together. As the ancient Roman politician Cassius Longinus once said when looking for culprits, we must always ask: Cui bono? In the Middle East, it's getting hard to see if anyone will gain — in the long run, at least.

blog

Extra! Is Iran-Venezuela Love Affair Over?

Shargh, June 21, 2016

The regimes of Iran and Venezuela may have been great chums and eager members of the anti-imperialist camp over the past decade. But the current in Caracas, where food shortages and clashes are rising, is prompting some finger-wagging in Tehran.

"We Want Food â€" Venezuela's Economy A Step Away From Total Collapse" read the front of Tuesday's edition Shargh. The Tehran-based daily cites hunger as the legacy of Venezuela's late socialist leader Hugo Chávez.

A report on June 21 called Chávez "Ahmadinejad's chum" in reference to Iran's former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known like Chávez for his diplomatic antics and bombastic comments â€" and poor economic performance.

The daily effectively took a jab at the egalitarian discourse and related policymaking that emerged in Iran after the 1979 revolution, reached a peak under Ahmadinejad and has yet to die out, in spite of the harm done to ordinary Iranians over decades.

In its Tuesday edition, Shargh analyzed Venezuela's conditions, seemingly responding to recent attacks by the hardline daily Kayhan on the government of President Hassan Rouhani. Kayhan had accused the current government of neglecting "strategic" relations with Latin America "just out of spite" for Ahmadinejad.

blog

The Oldest Crook In Iran, Mugging Since The Revolution

TEHRAN â€" Talk about a life in crime. Iranian police recently busted â€" or re-busted â€" a thieving gang consisting mostly of middle-aged and older men who have been in and out of prison since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The gang's head is believed to be around 63 years old, and is known to law enforcement as "Iran's father of muggings" and a "pioneer" in a field to which he had devoted himself since at least 1980, the newspaper Shargh reported on May 4.

The arrests came after a rise in complaints over thefts and violent muggings of women around banks and shops near the Grand Bazaar in central Tehran, which were found to coincide with the release of some of the gang's members from prison.

One of their recent robberies targeted a woman who had bought two kilograms of gold (a common form of saving in Iran) from a shop and then took a taxi to a city bus terminal. A motorbike told the taxi driver he had a flat tire, and when he pulled over to the side of the road, several men forced the woman to hand over her belongings, gold included.

Police say the suspects were "precisely" identified once several similar complaints were cross-checked. The men had criminal records, were aged in their 40s and 50s and led by an older man named as Eshq'ali Sh.

Indeed, it was 1999, when Eshq'ali, who was thought to be about 47 years old at the time, was described by another suspect as a "pioneer" of muggings with "particular" skill in identifying prime victims. Shargh"s report suggested that some accomplices were executed in earlier decades, but did not explain how Eshq'ali had, so far, escaped such a fate. Police were unsure about the scale of his earnings, but suspected it was a fortune.

blog

Hammam History: Can Tehran Save Its Vanishing Public Baths?

TEHRAN â€" The Iranian capital used to boast 1,400 public baths, which the daily Shargh observes were among its "main public spaces," an integral part of Iran's social culture and an efficient way of facilitating hygiene for the masses. Yet today, just 10% of the baths remain, in spite of the needs of thousands of day workers and informal migrants who come to Tehran with limited resources or lodging facilities.

Mehdi Sajjadi, head of the Tehran bathkeepers' union, told Shargh that public baths, sometimes known as hammams, have shuttered over the past 20 years in large part because of the expansion of gas piping, which facilitated water heating in homes and in turn led to a proliferation of private bathrooms. The removal of gas and water subsidies starting in 2001, as well as the rising cost of land, have also made maintaining such operations too expensive, Sajjadi said.

A member of the Tehran city council, Ahmad Hakimipur, told Shargh that the council was "ready" to back public baths as historical institutions, in principle at least. In places like Istanbul, public baths have evolved into tourist attractions. With the end of Iran's international isolation promising more foreign visitors, there may still be hope that Tehran's public baths will not get washed away for good.

blog

In Iran, Female Car Crash Victims Now Worth Same As Men

TEHRAN â€" How much is a life worth in Iran? In what may be a small but significant sign of progress, senior Iranian clerics have ruled that relatives of fatal car crash victims should receive the same amount of insurance compensation regardless of whether the deceased was a man or woman. The same new parity will also be applied in cases of Muslim and non-Muslim victims.

Prior to the new resolution, the family of a Muslim man killed in an accident invariably entitled his relatives to greater compensation. But now, according to a report in the reformist daily Shargh, after four months of deliberation, the country’s Guardian Council, a body of senior clerics that verifies the legitimacy of laws, ruled this week in favor of a parliamentary bill to level the amounts insurance firms must pay in car crashes.

The assumption that it is men who work and provide for families’ material needs lay behind the higher sums previously meted out to the relatives of male victims, and the law favored Muslim men over minorities including Armenians and Jews. The most striking aspect of the new amendment is the recognition by legislators and clerics that women are now often at the head of Iranian families, and therefore play the role of providers the same way men do.

Shargh cited a spokesman for Iran’s parliamentary economic affairs committee, who said that "some ladies run families and when they disappear, the survivors face difficulties."

In the case of minorities like Iran's Armenians and Jews, the longstanding differences in compensation had presumably been part of the traditional "package" of living in an Islamic state, which gives you an inferior though "protected" status.

A Tehran lawyer, Ne'mat Ahmadi, noted that compensation to relatives of car crash victims differed from the blood money paid in murder cases, because the former was "contractual, and connected with insurance policies," while the latter directly reflected Islamic law. As such, it is unlikely the Iranian parliament will move to equalize blood money payments for male and female victims anytime soon.

blog

Iran: Warnings Of U.S. “Cultural Assault” (KFC On The Menu)

Look no further than fried chicken for signs that American influence is returning to Iran in the wake of the deal to end sanctions in exchange for limits on the Iranian nuclear program.

That was the message from influential Republican Guards General Mohammad Hossein Sepehr, who cited the opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Tehran amongst his warnings that "America wants to infiltrate our society, culture, clothes, food, conduct, distractions and the way we pray."

Never mind that the KFC branch in question may have been the one shut down in November, 24 hours after it opened, though it was never clear whether it was an actual franchise or a knock-off, which is anything but unusual in Iran. The KFC's owner had said his eatery was a "halal" version of the global food chain.

The Revolutionary Guards general insists that the West is waging a "cultural assault" on Islamic Iran and its values. It's been a longstanding leitmotif of Iranian public discourse that began with the 1979 revolution, and the message is back in force with a vengeance as Iran emerges from isolation following the international nuclear deal.

Sepehr's comments joined other such declarations in recent days, expressing hostility toward the United States and warning it to mind Iran's many limits.

Another Iranian general accused the United States of trying to "strike at" Qasem Soleimani, the Revolutionary Guards general running Iran's operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, though the report by the conservative Fars news agency did not clarify whether he was accusing Americans of plotting to kill him.