Hundreds of Shiite Muslims in Spain commemorated this weekend the day of Ashura, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the third Shiite Imam, Imam Hussein along with his 72 companions.
In Spain’s capital, Madrid, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran organized religious ceremonies from the first day of the month of Moharam which hosted both Muslims and Christians of Spain.
In the capital of the of Catalonia, Barcelona, also similar acts where staged such as religious processions, despite the process of Catalan elections were held on Sunday.
Iran condemned on Saturday the Obama administration for taking an Iranian militant group formerly allied with Saddam Hussein off the U.S. terrorism list, saying it shows Washington’s “double standards.”
The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which began as a guerrilla movement fighting Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, helped overthrow the monarch in 1979 then quickly fell out with the Islamic Republic’s first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam’s forces in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war but disarmed after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The State Department delisted the group on Friday, meaning that any assets the MEK has in the United States are unblocked and Americans can do business with the organization. On Saturday, at their Paris headquarters, MEK members gathered to celebrate, tossing flower petals and displaying photos of members killed in the past 15 years.
The group claims it is seeking regime change through peaceful means, aiming to replace Tehran’s clerical system with a secular government.
However, a senior State Department official suggested that removing MEK from the U.S. terrorist list does not translate into a shared common front against the Islamic Republic.
The MEK was removed from the European Union’s terrorist list in 2009.
News Agencies – September 7, 2012
The Canadian Harper government has closed the Canadian Embassy in Iran and ordered all Iranian diplomats in Canada to leave the country. The move effectively severs ties with the Islamic Republic after years of increasingly tense relations marked by accusations, warnings and sanctions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in Russia for an APEC summit, has repeatedly described Iran as the greatest threat to global security, a statement echoed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird as he announced the embassy closure.
Baird revealed all Canadian diplomats had left Iran, while Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days. While the Harper government often co-ordinates its actions on Iran, such as the levelling of sanctions with the U.S. and other allies against Iran, Baird said Canada is the only country suspending diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic at this time, calling it a “made-in-Canada decision.”
Toronto Star – November 21, 2011
This opinion piece by Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, and founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre suggests that Canada is the haven of choice for the Islamic Republic’s inner circle.
He says it is ironic that while Ahmadinejad condemns “western imperialism,” his inner circle has quietly established itself in Canada to enjoy ill-gotten fortunes with impunity. A recent example is the former head of Iran’s Melli and Sepah Banks, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who acquired Canadian citizenship under questionable circumstances and then fled this October to his multi-million-dollar Toronto mansion following a $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal in Iran. Akhavan suggests that their presence may benefit the economy, but is clearly a security threat.
After months of balancing a woman’s religious beliefs with her desire to learn French, the Quebec government stepped into her classroom to offer an ultimatum: take off the niqab or drop the course. The woman opted to keep her Islamic face-covering and has filed a human rights complaint against the government. In the province of Quebec where the government frequently faces accusations of doing too much to accommodate minorities, these actions have prompted a fair bit of praise.
The woman began taking a French course designed for immigrants at a Montreal college in February 2009 but she refused to remove her niqab while men were present. The college was initially willing to accommodate her, but eventually balked as her demands escalated. In what appears to be a highly unusual move, provincial Immigration Minister Yolande James intervened. Officials from her department, acting with the minister’s knowledge, met with the woman to discuss her options.
Several groups, including several teachers’ unions, applauded the government for drawing a line in the sand. So did moderate Muslim groups. “When people come to Canada, we’re not coming to the Islamic Republic of Canada,” said Raheel Raza, a Muslim women’s-rights activist who has argued for a public ban on religious face coverings. The Canadian Muslim Forum, which claimed the woman was intimidated by other members of her class, said the move amounts to a misreading of the situation.”In Quebec people have the right to wear what they want,” spokeswoman Kathy Malas said.
The Iranian representative in Britain, Abdolhossein Moezi, has told Muslim servicemen and women to quit the Armed Forces, saying that their involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is forbidden by Islam. He said that it was wrong for followers of Islam to serve in the Armed Forces, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq where Muslims were being killed.
The cleric, personally appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be his special envoy to the UK, also urged Muslims to defeat the opposition to the Iranian regime and keep the 30-year-old Islamic Republic alive. He condemned 9/11, 7/7 as well as the Fort Hood incident, but accused the forces of “Zionist imperialism” of using the atrocities to smear Islam and its followers.
Furthermore Moezi stated that his role in Britain was to provide spiritual advice to all Muslims, irrespective of their sectarian backgrounds, and encourage them to become more involved in British society through education and employment.
Officials from the country’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology said they were in talks with a number of universities in Britain, the United States and Germany. Reports from Tehran claim they will provide teaching materials and scholars after striking up deals with several unnamed institutions.
Gholamreza Khajesarvi, a government official, told the Islamic Republic News Agency: “The ministry is currently studying proposals by numerous world academic centres and universities, including several universities from Britain, the United States, and Germany. The departments will be set up to train and educate experts on Islam so as to assist in the introduction of Islam and its realities to the world in a proper academic setting,” Graeme Paton reports.
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Head of Austria’s Shi’as Islamic Center said here Wednesday Islamic Republic of Iran granted prestige and grandeur to Muslims throughout the world. Muhammad-Ali Lances who was speaking for a group of pious Iranian youth attending the religious ‘Ea’tekaf’ ritual at Martyrs Mosque of Shiraz, added, “That is why we believe you are not merely responsible for the fate of your own country, but for the fate of the youth of the entire Islamic World.” Head of Austrian Shia’s Islamic Center added, “Furthermore, the Muslim youth can by abiding by the Islamic teachings become an excellent model for the youth of the entire world nations.” Presenting an image of the social, cultural and political status quo of Europe, Lances said, “The Europeans look at Islam as a proud and prestigious faith today, while in near past if someone would convert to Islam in Europe, or any other Western country, they would have accused him of being insane.” Pointing out that the Islamic Revolution of Iran is of great significance both among the European Muslims, and among the followers of other faiths there, he said, “One of the former Austrian presidents used to say that thanks to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the pious need not feel ashamed of being religious, and they can proudly claim their belief in God.”
The European Court of Justice on Tuesday overturned an EU decision to put the People’s Mujahadeen of Iran, an exiled Iranian resistance movement, on the bloc’s terror blacklist. The ruling annuls a 2002 decision to freeze European assets of the Paris-based group. The United States lists the People’s Mujahedeen as a terrorist organization. However, the group founded in the 1960s by students at Tehran University says it advocates the overthrow of Iran’s hard-line clerical regime by peaceful means. In its ruling, the European court said the group was not given a fair hearing to defend itself. “Certain fundamental rights and safeguards, including the right to a fair hearing, the obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial protection are, as a matter of principle, fully applicable,” the court said. Iranian resistance leader Maryam Rajavi called for the immediate lifting of all restrictions on the group and described the ruling as “proof of the resistance’s legitimacy over the religious fascism in Iran and victory of justice over economic interests.” “Today, one of the highest judicial authorities in Europe confirmed the Iranian resistance’s claim that the terrorist label, from the beginning, was a political issue which was meant to appease the mullahs,” she said in a statement issued in Paris. The group previously operated a military wing but since June 2001 has renounced military activity. Based in Auvers-Sur-Oise, near Paris, it serves as an umbrella movement for exiled Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic. In 2003, French police arrested dozens of members of the group. Seventeen people, including Rajavi, were placed under investigation on suspicion of associating with or financing terrorist groups. She was held for two weeks before being released. In June, the Paris Appeals Court lifted a series of restrictions on the 17, including a ban on them leaving French territory and another preventing them from associating with one another.