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Iran

NETANYAHU RIDICULES IDEA ISRAEL BEHIND IRAN PROTESTS

The Azeri Times

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Dismissing the notion of any Israeli connection to the ongoing protests in Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “heroic” demonstrators protesting against the “cruel regime” in a YouTube video published Monday.

Rouhani had said earlier Monday that the protests were being pushed by Saudi Arabia, which was trying to destabilize the country along with the US and Israel.

Netanyahu noted that the demonstrations were led by Iranians. “Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets,” he said. “They seek freedom. They seek justice. They seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades.”

Iran President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 31, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

“Iran’s cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals,” Netanyahu said. “No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people. That’s why they jail students. That’s why they ban social media.”

“But I’m sure that fear will not triumph,” insisted the prime minister, calling the Iranian people “smart,” “sophisticated” and “proud.”

Netanyahu went on to criticize Europe, which he claimed was not as supportive of the Iranian people as Israel. “Sadly, many European governments watch in silence as heroic young Iranians are beaten in the streets. That’s just not right. And I, for one, will not stay silent.”

Closing his video message, Netanyahu said that after the fall of the Islamic Republic, Iranians and Israelis “will be great friends once again.”

“I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom,” he concluded.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel tweeted his support for the demonstrators Monday afternoon. “[We] call upon the Iranian government to respect the protesters’ right to peacefully raise their voices,” he said. “After the confrontations of the past days it is important to take distance from violent acts.”

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence said that the Trump administration would not repeat the “shameful mistake” of not expressing support for the Iranian demonstrators.

“As long as @RealDonaldTrump is POTUS and I am VP, the United States of America will not repeat the shameful mistake of our past when others stood by and ignored the heroic resistance of the Iranian people as they fought against their brutal regime,” he tweeted.

“The bold and growing resistance of the Iranian people today gives hope and faith to all who struggle for freedom and against tyranny. We must not and we will not let them down,” Pence added.

US President Donald Trump’s predecessor former US president Barack Obama has been accused by critics of not speaking out forcefully enough in support of demonstrators during mass anti-regime protests in Iran in 2009.

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Fresh protests broke out in Tehran as night fell on Monday, with images of burning cars seen on local media along with online reports of heavy police presence.

Social media reports said relatively small groups were chanting anti-regime slogans in downtown parts of the capital.

Earlier in the day, six people were killed in the western town of Tuyserkan, after shots were fired, state television reported, while a local lawmaker said two people had been shot dead in the southwestern town of Izeh.

Two others, included a teenage boy, were run down and killed by a fire engine stolen by protesters in the western town of Dorud, the state broadcaster said, bringing the total death toll in four days of protests to 12

 

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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijanis dance to support their kin in Iran

The Azeri Times

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Social media users in Azerbaijan are dancing on video to express solidarity with their ethnic kin in northern Iran.The campaign began among ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran, who make up around one-quarter of the country’s population, and took to social media to protest a variety of grievances, including the poor economic conditions in Iran, particularly in the northern part of Iran where Azerbaijanis are concentrated. The protest took the form of dancing to a song, “They Talk About You,” by Iranian Azerbaijani singer Alireza Sharifzade.

The action then spread north of the Iran-Azerbaijan border, where Instagram and Twitter users posted their own videos using the name of the song as it is rendered in the Latin alphabet used in Azerbaijan, #sənideyirlər.

The two populations of Azerbaijanis were separated in the 19th century when Russia took over what is sometimes referred to as “Northern Azerbaijan,” today’s independent Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijanis feel a sense of kinship with their brethren in Iran, though actions of solidarity like this are relatively rare. “First time ever Northern Azerbaijan social media gets dominated by Southern Azerbaijan trend,” wrote Azerbaijani social media personality Cavid Ağa. “Seems like music was the only thing lacking all these years.”

“Iran is a country where you can be punished for dancing, for promoting music of the largest minority – Azerbaijani Turks, for being without headscarves, for promoting LGBT rights,” wrote investigative journalist Khadija Ismailova on her Facebook page. “This [is] one of the biggest solidarity actions.”

The Azerbaijani dance protest follows another Iranian dancing social media controversy, when a young woman was arrested in July after posting a video on Instagram of herself dancing. Iranians and others then expressed their solidarity by posting their own dancing videos.

The song “Səni deyirlər” is dedicated to Lake Urmia, a salt lake that straddles the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, which is drying up. The lake’s dessication has become a key focus of Iranian Azerbaijani grievances against the government in Tehran, which has sought to suppress Azerbaijani culture and political expression in the country.

“How good Lake Urmia is for swimming, but they dried it up,” Sharifzade sings. The song concludes with the line, “Long live Azerbaijan.”

Others unwilling to publicize themselves dancing supported the campaign in other ways. Activist Samra Sadraddinli posted a photo of herself in Tabriz, the largest city in Iranian Azerbaijan, with the caption: “Support South Azerbaijanian youth’s Mother Language Movement and dance challenge. I don’t want you to see my Raj Kapoor style dance, that’s why I’m here with my photo from Tabriz.”

The campaign even hit Azerbaijani opposition politics. One Facebook user posted a video of opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov criticizing – without naming them – other opposition groups for holding rallies that were ineffective and only played into the government’s hands. The user captioned the video “They are talking about you.”

As for the government itself, it is keeping quiet. Tehran is extremely sensitive to any hint of Azerbaijani separatism, and official Baku gives Iranian Azerbaijani issues a very wide berth in an effort to not antagonize the Iranian government.

Lamiya Adilgizi is a freelance Azerbaijani journalist.

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Georgia

Iran accuses Georgia of violating the ‘decency of Muslim women in hijabs’ in Tbilisi airport

The Azeri Times

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The Embassy of Iran to Georgia has sent a letter of protest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia (MFA) regarding an incident which took place at Tbilisi’s international airport.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, security service personnel at Tbilisi International Airport demanded several female passengers arriving from the Iranian city of Isfahan to remove their hijabs.

Spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bahram Qassemi said that the Iranian ambassador spoke with several travellers who had been to Georgia to confirm the information, after which he sent a letter of protest to the MFA and to the airport’s security service.

Moreover, the consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran also sent a letter of protest to the Georgian Embassy in Iran and demanded an explanation from the ambassador.

“Iran also calls upon the Georgian authorities to prevent a repetition of such incidents, and for the airport security service to observe and respect the dignity of Muslim women in hijabs,” reports IRNA.

The MFA has already responded to the accusations. After receiving the information regarding the alleged violations, the MFA looked into the matter and concluded that the Georgian security staff at the airport were not in violation of any procedures.

“There were no illegal actions on the side of the Georgian security personnel, including actions which might ‘offend religious feelings’,” reads the ministry’s statement.

The MFA has informed the Iranian side regarding the investigation results. The issue will be discussed at the next meeting with the Iranian ambassador and the MFA.

  • According to Georgia’s Tourism Administration, one million people visited Georgia in July, of which 179 thousand were Iranians. Iran is in fifth place after Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey and Armenia.

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Iran

Dozens of AZERBAIJANIS DETAINED IN IRAN

The Azeri Times

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Iranian security forces detained more than 50 Azerbaijani activists gathered in the area of the Babek Fortress in the Eastern Azerbaijan province, Araznews reports.

The reasons for the detention are not disclosed.

Ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran have been gathering for many years in July in the area of the Babek Fortress, which is considered a symbol of the Turkic identity. In recent years, these meetings have not been held because of the pressure of the Iranian security forces.

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