We shine the spotlight this week on Iran:
IRAN MINISTER: ISIS + USA
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli made an incendiary claim this week during a joint appearance with the Syrian interior minister, connecting ISIS objectives with those of the West. He said that ISIS doesn't just discredit Islam but also poses a danger to "unity, solidarity and stability in the Muslim world in cooperation with the West, the U.S. and reactionary countries in the region." He did not elaborate on this accusation.
He also said Iran, Syria and Iraq were actively fighting "violence" in the Middle East represented not just by ISIS but also Israel, IRNA agency reported.
DIPLOMATS HEAD FOR LUXEMBOURG
Iran's foreign minister and other negotiators are in Luxembourg this week for another round of talks designed to forge an agreement about the scope of Iran's feared nuclear program. Iranian media quoted the minister as saying that an agreement was feasible if all sides "moderated" their demands.
Iran's parliament recently voted to limit snap inspections of Iran's nuclear installations, which the West insists on, though it also effectively abandoned its own ability to veto an agreement reached between Iran and the West, leaving that to a security body headed by the president and taking its cue from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Radio France Internationale reported.
This could actually ease the work of Iranian diplomats, by reducing the number of intervening parties. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqhchi told the press in Vienna that differences were "narrowing" but that progress remained slow.
WOMEN CAN WRESTLE "VEILED"
How to combine Islamic norms with modern living, and avoid ridicule in the process? This has been a challenge for Iranian authorities since the 1979 revolution that made Iran an Islamic Republic. Newspaper Aftab-e Yazd reported this week that the regulatory body United World Wrestling agreed to Iran's request that its female wrestlers "respect the full hijab," or Islamic clothing norms, while taking part in a Tehran wrestling event scheduled for Aug. 7.
That presumably means the women will be covered from head to toe — no tight T-shirts and the like — and that the audience won't include men. This comes amid renewed debate in Iran on whether to allow gender-mixed public entertainment. The country will reportedly allow women into volleyball matches, but not soccer or wrestling.
In a similar move to protect public decency, the London-based Kayhan newspaper reports that Iran's soccer federation has told players not to display tattoos on their arms and legs, or make a "spectacle" of their hair or face. In a country with a booming youth population, how do you curb and regulate desire? Iranian authorities are doggedly working on that, every day, almost 40 years after the Islamic Revolution.
CLERIC CALLS AYATOLLAH'S FAMILY "IDIOTS"
One of Iran's most conservative theologians, Ayatollah Mohammad Mesbah-Yazdi, recently characterized "some relatives" of the country's late leader and Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as essentially fools. Ayatollah Khomeini remains a more or less venerated figure in Iran decades after his death in a country where relatives often enjoy the social benefits of a prestigious name. But several younger members of the Khomeini family have in recent years inclined toward moderate or reformist elements, earning themselves the ire and contempt of conservatives elements such as Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi.
The cleric was a mentor to Iran's last radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Kayhanquoted him comparing Khomeini relatives to "Abu Jahl," or the Father of Ignorance, a title given to one of the Prophet's opponents in Mecca. "They have failed their test" with Islam, Mesbah-Yazdi said. Khomeini's grandson Hasan Khomeini is the keeper of his mausoleum outside Tehran. He is also associated with reformists, though generally he tries to keep a neutral political profile.
DOZENS HELD FOR EATING DURING RAMADAN
A police official in the western city of Hamadan said 72 people had been detained so far for breaking the Ramadan fast in public and would be prosecuted, though it was not immediately clear how they would be punished. In Iran, citizens are forbidden from drinking, eating or smoking in public during the the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began June 19. People have been known to be whipped for doing so, though punishments vary.
Police Col. Mansur Maleki said the violators had been detained for "disrespecting Ramadan" — for example, by eating in their cars, the official IRNA agency reported. He said hundreds of officials and volunteers were on the lookout across the Hamadan province to ensure the fast was respected.