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The Iranist
Week of November 13th

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Azeri anger
Ethnic Azeris are demonstrating in a number of northwestern Iranian towns over an alleged slur said on a popular children’s television program. An episode of Fitilehha made an offensive joke about an Azeri mistaking a toilet brush with a toothbrush and ridiculed Azeri accents. Mohammad Moslemi, the director of the show and one of its main actors, posted a video on Facebook: “How is it possible to insult an ethnic group in a clip when I myself am an Azeri and Turkic speaker? I do not know why such a misunderstanding has happened. I hope we will never face such issues again.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has since pulled the show off the air. The head of IRIB Mohammad Sarafraz also apologized for the “unforgivable mistake”.
Iran’s state media broadcasted pictures of riot police being deployed in Tabriz, on what it described as an “illegal gathering”. Protests over the children's program were dispersed by tear gas and prompted many arrests.
Salaam, ciao, bonjour!
On Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani commences his first European visit. He is said to be the first Iranian leader to formally travel to Europe in sixteen years. On the trip, Rouhani is expected to meet with Pope Francis and the leaders of Italy and France. He is also said to be delivering a speech at the Leaders’ Forum of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) while in Paris.
Rouhani's premiere European visit doesn’t come without controversy. France reportedly cancelled a formal dinner between President Rouhani and his French counterpart François Hollande after the Iranians requested a wine-free and halal meat meal. The French then offered breakfast, which the Iranians rejected on the basis that it was too “cheap”.
Before the trip, Rouhani also hinted Iran would likely sign a deal to purchase Airbus aircraft while in France.

It’s never too late to apologize
In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, President Rouhani suggested normalized relations with the United States were possible. Rouhani told the newspaper before his trip to Italy, “One day these embassies will re-open but what counts is behavior and the Americans hold the key to this.” He added, “If they modify their policies, correct errors committed in these 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen.”
Stop the intimidation
On Tuesday, Iranian journalist Solmaz Ikdar was sentenced to three years in prison. She was banned from travel in June and according to her mother, “they confiscated her passport and sent her to the prosecutor’s office. There, [Ikdar] discovered that she had been charged with insulting the leader and propaganda against the regime.” While the family has not yet appealed the verdict, they intend to. “But we do not have much hope,” Ikdar’s mother said.
With news of many incarcerations, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran called on Tehran to stop arresting and intimating journalists ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections in February. Ahmed Shaheed also urged Iran to release imprisoned journalists, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. “The government of Iran should not silence critical or dissenting voices under the guise of vague and unsubstantiated national security concerns,” he explained.
President Rouhani demanded more transparent media regulations in the wake of arrests. He claimed regulations "will stop certain people picking up on a word or a sentence in a media outlet and putting their freedom at risk." Rouhani also added, "By reading their headlines you know who will be arrested tomorrow."

End to Syria solution?
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian claims Tehran hasn’t decided if it will participate in talks on Syria scheduled for November 14. According to state media, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wouldn't be attending since he would be joining the Iranian president on his trip to Europe.
Iran initially said it planned to attend the Syria talks, at least that's what the supreme leader’s top foreign policy advisor claimed. Ali Akbar Velayati said, “We will support our ally, Syria, not only in defense field, but also in political arena.”
In the meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is pushing the United Nations Human Rights Committee for a non-binding draft resolution to condemn Iran and Russia’s intervention in Syria. Both Iranian and Syrian delegations condemned the remarks. The Iranians complained that the resolution mentioned the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as part of the “terrorist” groups listed.

Iran's enemies
This cartoon by Touka Neyestani is pretty self-explanatory.
Other stories that made headlines
-- White House officials may have been recently targeted by IRGC hackers.

-- Number of Iranian "advisors" killed in Syria said to be under 50.
-- 40 suspected militants heading for Iraq and Syria arrested inside Iran.
-- Saudi ambassador summoned after 3 Iranians executed for drug trafficking.
-- Iranian refugees are dying in detention camps in Australia and nobody knows why.
-- Images from Tehran’s Prison Museum, formerly known as Qasr Prison.

-- Russian deal with Iran for air defense missiles remains in force

-- Family of U.S. detained Iranian nuclear scientist worries for his safety.

-- Fashion models haven’t received “qualification license;” fear it’s a crackdown.
-- President Rouhani urges Iran's ministries to ensure women’s futsal team travels.
-- Lufthansa Technik may help Iran repair and overhaul its aging airline fleet.
-- Iran may be a “breeding ground” for software industry development.
-- Tehran sets its sights on more bilateral trade with Armenia.
-- On the road in Iran: an Iranian-American’s journey through history.
-- UK gallery introduces illustrations from popular Iranian children books.
-- Tehran hopes to turn saffron market into major earner for the economy.

-- Iran aims to revive caviar industry after sanctions are lifted.


...تا هفته بعد
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