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#21 Siamak

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Posted 23 September 2005 - 07:36 AM

Warrants in '94 Bombing Are Delisted


BERLIN — Iran succeeded Wednesday in getting Interpol to cancel international wanted notices for 12 Iranians sought by Argentina in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center, police sources said.

Argentine judicial authorities called the decision a blow to their investigation of the Buenos Aires attack, which killed 85 people, the country's deadliest.

At its annual conference in Berlin, world police body Interpol conducted a ballot of delegates on rescinding the "red notices" arising from the attack.

"In favor of Iran, all the red notices have been canceled," an Iranian delegate said.

Two other sources independently confirmed the outcome.

Argentina and Israel lay responsibility for the bombing on Hezbollah guerrillas backed by Iran, but Tehran repeatedly has denied involvement.

Interpol suspended the 12 notices requested by Argentina after Iran complained about irregularities, citing corruption allegations against the judge involved.

Argentina was seeking reinstatement of the notices.

Argentine court officials said removal of the alerts, which means countries are no longer obliged to publish the arrest warrants, made it unlikely the suspects would ever be brought in for questioning.

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#22 Siamak

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Posted 23 September 2005 - 08:46 AM

NEW YORK, September 20th, 2005 – As New York's most exciting runway week comes to an end, what could be more exhilarating than a look at our very own Behnaz Sarafpour. Unveiling her Spring 2006 collection at the famous Fashion Week, Behnaz focused on a collection that combines the old style of Hollywood with a modern twist.

As in previous collections, the Iranian designer used meticulous and refined that she is slowly becoming famous for. This included the use of lace in everything from swimwear to evening wear. Lace was found as trimming on an orange cloque sheath, as a hand-tatted neckline on a silk shell, and for added glamour, as a collar that dressed up model Lisa Cant's ribbed tank skirt.

Following the tradition of something old and something new, Behnaz peppered the collection with polka-dots, animal prints, and textured chiffon, which brought life into a mostly black and white collection. She also boldly accessorized with chokers, bracelets, and rings from the Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry collection. . Other unique pieces in this collection included tattoo embroidery on a simple silk tweed dressed, double-face wool jackets, and perhaps the most elegant of shorts Fashion week has seen, which were in knee-grazing silk. Sarafpour's evening collection featured some vibrant colors, remaining mostly floor-length and narrow dresses.

Last September Behnaz held her fashion show at Tiffany. The Iranian-born Sarafpour started her career with Anne Klein, before she even graduated from Parsons School of Design. She has worked with the likes of Narciso Rodriguez, Louis Dell'Olio, and Richard Tyler before switching to design for Isaac Mizrah. The delicate Sarafpour also designed for Barney's private label, an industry privilege, before finally launching her own line in 2001.

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For more Behnaz, go to www.behnazsarafpour.com.


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#23 Siamak

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 08:16 AM

Nilou Motamed boarded her first airplane when she was 4 months old, lived at Paris' legendary George V hotel at age 7, and spoke three languages by her 10th birthday. This Discovery Channel Travel Spies co-host has had the travel bug ever since.

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#24 Siamak

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 09:13 AM

Nice Pic.


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#25 khanoomi

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Posted 24 September 2005 - 10:53 PM

Khanomi is so cute :wub:

I've missed you :friends:

awww thanx hun ur a cutie too
i missed u2 :wub: :wub:

NEW YORK, September 20th, 2005 – As New York's most exciting runway week comes to an end, what could be more exhilarating than a look at our very own Behnaz Sarafpour. Unveiling her Spring 2006 collection at the famous Fashion Week, Behnaz focused on a collection that combines the old style of Hollywood with a modern twist.

As in previous collections, the Iranian designer used meticulous and refined that she is slowly becoming famous for. This included the use of lace in everything from swimwear to evening wear. Lace was found as trimming on an orange cloque sheath, as a hand-tatted neckline on a silk shell, and for added glamour, as a collar that dressed up model Lisa Cant's ribbed tank skirt.

Following the tradition of something old and something new, Behnaz peppered the collection with polka-dots, animal prints, and textured chiffon, which brought life into a mostly black and white collection. She also boldly accessorized with chokers, bracelets, and rings from the Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry collection. . Other unique pieces in this collection included tattoo embroidery on a simple silk tweed dressed, double-face wool jackets, and perhaps the most elegant of shorts Fashion week has seen, which were in knee-grazing silk. Sarafpour's evening collection featured some vibrant colors, remaining mostly floor-length and narrow dresses.

Last September Behnaz held her fashion show at Tiffany. The Iranian-born Sarafpour started her career with Anne Klein, before she even graduated from Parsons School of Design. She has worked with the likes of Narciso Rodriguez, Louis Dell'Olio, and Richard Tyler before switching to design for Isaac Mizrah. The delicate Sarafpour also designed for Barney's private label, an industry privilege, before finally launching her own line in 2001.

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For more Behnaz, go to www.behnazsarafpour.com.


how cool thanx for the article siamak joooonam :wub: :friends:
i love you all!

#26 Siamak

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 03:42 PM

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Spain's Fernando Alonso became Formula One's youngest champion at the age of 24 on Sunday after finishing third for Renault in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya won the race for the second year in a row while team mate Kimi Raikkonen, the only man who could have put off Alonso's title celebrations, finished runner-up.

Montoya would have let Raikkonen win had it helped the Finn's title chances but Alonso needed just six points to follow Ferrari's Michael Schumacher as champion and it was clear he was going to get them.

Starting on pole position, thanks to a lighter fuel load than the McLarens, he soon relinquished the lead to Montoya and settled down comfortably in third after the first pitstop.

McLaren could at least savour a first one-two finish in more than five years, taking the lead in the constructors' championship into the bargain, but the real celebrations were at Renault.

Third place left Alonso with an unassailable lead of 23 points with two races remaining, making him his country's first Formula One champion.



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Somos campeones!Los Mejores


:clap: :clap: :clap:

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#27 khanoomi

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 08:56 PM

Nilou Motamed boarded her first airplane when she was 4 months old, lived at Paris' legendary George V hotel at age 7, and spoke three languages by her 10th birthday. This Discovery Channel Travel Spies co-host has had the travel bug ever since.

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very nice :clap2:
i love you all!

#28 nikikhanoom

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 03:08 PM

'Too Far, Too Close' to represent Iran in Oscar
Sep 27, 2005

Persian Journal, Iran

The Committee for the selection of an Iranian film for the Oscar awards has named 'Too Far, Too Close' directed by Reza MirKarimi to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to represent the Iranian Cinema in the race for the Foreign Language Oscars.

The committee cited the film's exploration of the deeper complexities of the human psyche" among the reasons for selecting MirKarimi's film for the Oscar award.

It tells the story of a self-absorbed neurosurgeon who sets off into the desert to locate and reconcile with his 18-year-old son, and a finale involving divine intervention.

MirKarimi has been known for also directing "Under the Moonlight".

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited 91 countries to present a film for consideration for the 2006 Oscar for best foreign film and the winner will be announced at a star-studded ceremony on March 5, 2006.

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#29 Siamak

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 02:11 PM

Tent to become Persepolis Information Center


Tehran, 25 September 2005 (CHN) – A tent will be set up besides Persepolis as an information center to familiarize the site visitors with its history, architecture, and archaeological remains before they set feet on the ancient legacy of the Achaemenids.

Display of artifacts and a mock-up of the structure and screening of films about Persepolis to provide information on the architecture of the complex are among programs foreseen for the center.

According to head of Parse-Pasargadae Research Center, Mohammad Hasan Talebian, on the entrance path to the world-famous palaces of Persepolis, a giant tent will be set up to welcome visitors to the site, providing them with utile information.

Since the information center falls within the perimeters of Persepolis, and no construction is permitted there under the regulations of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Parse-Pasargadae decided to set it up in a giant tent.

The display of artifacts and a mock-up of the structure and screening of videos on it will help inform tourists, making their visit to the site a more influential one and as a result helping boost the tourism of the historical site.

The news come denying a report by Guardian on September 22, announcing falsely that the tents once used by the late Pahlavi king as a party venue are going to be recreated and revived in their original form.

Persepolis, located near the cultural tourist city of Shiraz, was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. It was founded by Darius I in 518 BC as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The ruins of the monument remaining today make it a unique archaeological site and a tourist attraction of Iran.

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REBUILDING BAM

IAAB presents Bam and Beyond: Building Alliances Between Iranian and Iranian Diaspora NGOs, Universities, and Private Sectors
WASHINGTON, D.C., -- Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) will hold an international seminar on the reconstruction of Bam on November 12, 2005 at Columbia University. This seminar will be the first of its kind since the 2003 earthquake that brought devastation upon the city of Bam. Hosted by Columbia University’s Iranian Students Association (CISA), the event is by invitation/application only, and is open to NGO leaders, leaders in the private sector, and scholars in the field of development and civil society.

Participants will be invited from Iran, Europe, Canada and the United States to discuss the positive role that Iranians abroad played in providing aid after the Bam earthquake and to explore new ways that the Iranian diaspora can become more effectively involved in Bam and other projects in Iran. Bam and Beyond will allow participants the opportunity to discuss possibilities of creating cooperation and partnership between NGOs in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora.

In order to do this, Bam and Beyond will provide a review of reconstruction efforts in Bam as well as address questions such as: Can we identify and/or create mechanisms and structures of cooperation and coordination among Iranian and Iranian Diaspora NGOs, the private sector and universities? Was the money that Iranians in the diaspora raised after the Bam earthquake distributed through the most effective and efficient channels? How was this financial assistance used, and was it implemented successfully? Is there room for more and better partnerships between NGOs in Iran and Iranian diaspora NGOs? How can Iranians in the diaspora become better involved in development efforts in Iran?

The Bam and Beyond seminar at Columbia University will be followed and complemented by a parallel seminar in Bam, Iran in the winter of 2006.
The winter seminar in Bam will ensure that the ideas of the seminar at Columbia University are discussed and implemented in Iran.

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#30 Siamak

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 06:29 PM

Iranian American Know Your Rights Resolution Gains Cosponsors

Washington, DC – Six additional members of Congress have joined H.Res.367 bringing the number of total cosponsors to twelve. Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-7th/NY), Michael Doyle (D-14th/PA), Bob Filner (D-51st/CA), Barney Frank (D-4th/MA), David Price (D-4th/NC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-8th/MD) are all new cosponsors of the resolution condemning bigotry, violence and discrimination against Iranian Americans.

At the urging of the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), Congressman Marty Meehan (D-5th/MA) and Congressman Christopher Shays (R-4th/CT) introduced resolution, H.Res.367 on July 19th. The resolution is a component of the recently launched Iranian American Know Your Rights Campaign, which strives to educate Iranian Americans of their civil rights and liberties as well as educate mainstream America on the Iranian American community. H.Res.367 acknowledges the diversity of the Iranian American community and their contributions to the social and economic fabric of American society. It declares that the government should ensure civil rights and civil liberties protections for Iranian Americans and encourages Iranian Americans to share their experiences with local, state and federal elected officials.

More Info in http://thomas.loc.go...09:h.res.00367:

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#31 Siamak

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 06:51 PM

Protest in front of the British embassy in Tehran


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#32 Mona

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 05:00 AM

Iran denies shift in India ties

Iran says it has no plans to pull out of a $22bn gas deal with India in the wake of a disagreement over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Delhi had voted on Saturday for Iran's nuclear plans to be referred to the UN Security Council. Top Iranian official Ali Aghamohammadi denied a report in India's Hindu newspaper the gas deal was in doubt. Under the accord, India would import 5m tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year for 25 years.

Leftists

On Tuesday Iran had said it would reconsider economic co-operation with countries such as India which had supported the UN nuclear move.

The Hindu reported that Iran had "informed" India that the gas deal had been scrapped. However, the BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says Mr Aghamohammadi, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran had no plans to withdraw from the gas agreement. He said: "We have had good, deep relations with India in many fields and regional affairs and their behaviour at the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] was strange and we didn't expect them to vote against Iran." But he added: "We don't want to review our current relations with India and their vote against Iran doesn't affect the gas project." Iran's ambassador in Delhi conveyed Tehran's disappointment over the vote face to face in a meeting with India's foreign secretary.

An Indian foreign ministry spokesman said Delhi had explained the "background to our decision to vote in favour of the resolution at the IAEA". But he said the ambassador did not give any indication Iran was planning to "review its long-standing and extensive co-operation with India". The Indian government has maintained since Saturday that it did not come under pressure to back the vote from the US, which has thanked Delhi for its support.

India says the IAEA resolution is consistent with Delhi's stated position on Iran and is in no way linked to a recent landmark India-US nuclear accord. The US accuses Iran of seeking nuclear arms, which Tehran denies. Iran says it wants nuclear technology purely for peaceful production of energy and has called the resolution illegal.

India's government is under attack both from the opposition and its left-wing allies for its decision to side with the West and vote against Iran. On Wednesday morning, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met key left-wing allies upset at the government's vote at the IAEA.
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#33 Siamak

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 01:08 PM

winner takes it all - star musician of iran


Washington DC, September 28th, 2005 - The final rounds of the 2005 Star Musician of Iran competition have come to an end and the lucky winners have been announced. The two lucky winners are Katayoun Ooriel Moosazadeh (right) in the Vocal category and Behfar Bahadora (left) on Tar in the Instrumental segment. Both finalists walked away with $2500 in cash and additional prizes in kind.

The competition started earlier this year after an extensive world wide search, with live auditions on the east and west coasts of the United States. Contestants came from the US, Bahamas, Iran, Canada, and Belguim.

A total of 20 vocal and semi-finalists from around the world were selected to compete for the Star Musician of Iran title by Judges which included legendary composer Ostad Attaollah Khorram, Sadegh Nojooki, Hooshmand Aghili and Pop Icon Andy Madadian. The finals were held on live in Washington DC on September 17th, 2005.

The 10 Vocal Finalists were competing for over $10,000 worth of prizes which included $2,500 cash, Lyrics by Paksima, Music by Nami, and a music video by Koji.

The 10 Instrumental Finalists were also competing for $2,500 cash. Among the finalists were also Niloofar Safiri from Winnetka, California who got second place. She was followed by Amin Hedayat from Costa Mesa, California in the vocal category.

The instrumental runner-ups were Peyman Montazemi from Los Angeles, California on piano and Faraz Minooei from San Jose, California on Santour.



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#34 Siamak

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 05:02 PM

Shirin Neshat


Shirin Neshat doesn't quite know where to call home. The 43-year-old artist was born and raised in Iran but moved to the U.S. after high school to study art. When the Islamic Revolution overtook her homeland in 1979, Neshat was exiled and couldn't return until 11 years later--and the country she went home to bore little resemblance to the one she left.

Neshat dealt with her sense of displacement by trying to untangle the ideology of Islam through art. The result was Women of Allah (1993-97), a photographic series of militant Muslim women that subverts the stereotype and examines the Islamic idea of martyrdom. In 1996, Neshat began working with film, eager to create more poetic, open-ended works. She produced a trilogy of split-screen video installations--Turbulent (1998), Rapture (1999) and Fervor (2000)--all sumptuously filmed meditations on the male/female dynamic in Islamic societies. Her current exhibition--at London's Serpentine Gallery until Sept. 3 then at Hamburger Kunsthalle in January-- presents Women of Allah and all three video installations together for the first time. Here is a selection of images from the exhibition.


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Women of Allah



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#35 Siamak

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 11:06 AM

West threatens action on Iran; Iran threatens reprisals


The EU's three main states pushed for Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council for "breaches" of international nuclear safeguards but the move faces stiff opposition from Russia and drew sharp threats from Iran.


Iran issued its toughest warning yet in response to Western pressure over its nuclear programme, threatening to limit UN inspections, resume ultra-sensitive fuel work and even quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Islamic republic's top nuclear negotiator, hardliner Ali Larijani, also said oil giant Tehran would base its business dealings with individual countries on whose side they took in the dispute.

A Western diplomat in Vienna said: "It's unfortunate that while we're committed to pursuing this issue on a peaceful diplomatic track, Iran's response is to resort to threats and provocations."



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#36 Siamak

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 02:11 PM

FDNY Chaplain Resigns After 9/11 Remarks


NEW YORK - The fire department's new Muslim chaplain abruptly resigned Friday after saying in a published interview that he believes something other than al-Qaida hijackers brought down the World Trade Center.

"It became clear to him that he would have difficulty functioning as an FDNY chaplain," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told reporters an hour before Imam Intikab Habib was to be officially sworn in. "There has been no prior indication that he held those views."

Habib told Newsday in an interview published Friday that he was skeptical of the official version of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which killed 343 firefighters.

"I've heard professionals say that nowhere ever in history did a steel building come down with fire alone," he told the newspaper.

"It takes two or three weeks to demolish a building like that. But it was pulled down in a couple of hours," he said. "Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?"

The 30-year-old Guyana native joined the department as chaplain on Aug. 15 after the FDNY's Islamic Society recommended him for the part-time position, which pays $18,000 a year.

Scoppetta said Habib, who was educated in Islamic law in Saudi Arabia and preaches at a New York mosque, had appeared qualified and passed a background check.

Habib made his comments after Newsday asked him whether he thought firefighters would object to a chaplain trained in Saudi Arabia. The country was home to 15 of the 19 men who hijacked four jets on Sept. 11, 2001, crashed two of them into the trade center towers and one into the Pentagon. The fourth crashed in Pennsylvania.

"There are so many conflicting reports about it," the newspaper quoted Habib as saying. "I don't believe it was 19 ... hijackers who did those attacks." He said he didn't know who was responsible for the attacks.

"It's sad," said Kevin James, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Fire Department Personnel. "We had no idea those were his views. He's entitled to his opinion but he's not the right person for the chaplain."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed Habib's resignation.

"The remarks were offensive and the mayor is satisfied that the chaplain has resigned," mayoral spokesman Ed Skyler said.

Some have blamed the destruction of the trade center on a U.S. or Israeli plot designed to whip up support for attacks on Muslim countries. In 2003, New Jersey eliminated Amiri Baraka's position as poet laureate after he wrote a poem suggesting Israel had advance knowledge of the attacks.


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#37 Siamak

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 06:59 PM

Zoe Rastegar -- Talk Show Host


Born in Shiraz, Iran, Zohreh Rastegar was raised in an educated, urbane family in Tehran. Her mother was owner and head mistress of a private school in Tehran before retiring. Her father was an executive at the National Oil Company. He was also a poet and published a book of poetry just prior to his death in December, 2001.

Since elementary school, Zoe loved being on stage, a passion that continued throughout college. She was spokesperson and radio news announcer for Pahlavi University. While in Iran, she also played parts in radio dramas. Her poetry appeared in Iranian publications. She has received awards for writing and public speaking while student at Pahlavi University.

In the 1970s, Zoe moved from Iran to the U.S. as a young bride. While raising three children in the Washington area, she matriculated into local colleges, earning a Master’s degree in English Literature from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland (1980) and a Master’s in Health Services Administration from George Washington University in D.C. (1999).

Zoe started her television career in 1990 after being an active member of the Iranian community for several years. She produced and hosted three talk shows for Rang-a-Rang, a privately owned television in the Northern Virginia within five years, then left to finish her second Master’s degree.

In May, 2000, she started her own show on Fairfax Public Access cable television. “Outlook” was a weekly talk show in the Farsi language focusing on Iranian immigrants to the United States and their adaptation into the American culture. The show was aired for two years in Virginia, Maryland and the District. It grew to spotlight the concerns and issues of both first and second generation Iranians and it was well received within the Iranian community.

In October, 2002 Zoe debuted “Accent” on Fairfax Public Access cable television in Northern Virginia. The weekly talk show in English is geared to a broader audience of Americans and Iranians to promote cultural awareness in a post-September 11th world. “I feel it is my duty as a communicator to inform and educate not only our host country about Iranian culture and politics, but our own second generation Iranians who are not fluent in Farsi and feel like outsiders,” says Zoe.

Zoe’s goal for “Accent” is to make a difference by being a positive voice encouraging assimilation of Iranians into American culture without losing touch with their magnificent, proud past. “We must cherish and celebrate our culture,” she says, “but not limit ourselves by our prejudices in the name of patriotism.” “Accent” is an outreach show that transmits the views and heritage of both generations beyond the Iranian community while empowering it locally.

Zoe has also been a vibrant volunteer for the past 25 years, especially in the Iranian community. She served as chairwoman for the Iranian Women’s Society of Washington, D.C. for six consecutive years and a founding member of the Iranian Cultural Society, where she also served as master of ceremonies for special events. She co-founded the Washington Nights of Poetry and founded the McLean Youth Citizenship Award. In addition, she chaired the legislative committee of the Virginia Medical Auxiliary. She is certified as a public speaker by the Capital Speakers Club of D.C. She writes poetry and prose in Farsi as well as in English. Some of her writings have appeared in Iranian publications in the Washington metro area. On March 24,2003 she was one of the panelists at the National Conference for Community and Justice in Washington, DC. This is a program that encourages inclusion, tollerance and stresses the responsibilties of the media as a source of information. She was the guest on KCMO Radio Airing from Kansas Missory commenting on the current issues in the Middle east on April 30/03. She has appeared on CBS morning show, WUSA with Andrea Roan on May 6th and was interviewed by KGAB radio from Cheyenne, Wyoming to comment on the current Middle east issues and role of Iran. Recently she was interviewed on Voice of America about the Iranian Women and their achievements in spite of their limitations and hardships both inside and outside of the country since the Iranian Revolution of 1978

Contact her at:
Zoe Rastegar
P.O. Box 3645
Washington, D.C. 20027


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#38 khanoomi

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 12:16 AM

West threatens action on Iran; Iran threatens reprisals


The EU's three main states pushed for Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council for "breaches" of international nuclear safeguards but the move faces stiff opposition from Russia and drew sharp threats from Iran.


Iran issued its toughest warning yet in response to Western pressure over its nuclear programme, threatening to limit UN inspections, resume ultra-sensitive fuel work and even quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Islamic republic's top nuclear negotiator, hardliner Ali Larijani, also said oil giant Tehran would base its business dealings with individual countries on whose side they took in the dispute.

A Western diplomat in Vienna said: "It's unfortunate that while we're committed to pursuing this issue on a peaceful diplomatic track, Iran's response is to resort to threats and provocations."




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#39 Guest_arian_*

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 10:14 AM

Warrants in '94 Bombing Are Delisted


BERLIN — Iran succeeded Wednesday in getting Interpol to cancel international wanted notices for 12 Iranians sought by Argentina in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center, police sources said.

Argentine judicial authorities called the decision a blow to their investigation of the Buenos Aires attack, which killed 85 people, the country's deadliest.

At its annual conference in Berlin, world police body Interpol conducted a ballot of delegates on rescinding the "red notices" arising from the attack.

"In favor of Iran, all the red notices have been canceled," an Iranian delegate said.

Two other sources independently confirmed the outcome.

Argentina and Israel lay responsibility for the bombing on Hezbollah guerrillas backed by Iran, but Tehran repeatedly has denied involvement.


Interpol suspended the 12 notices requested by Argentina after Iran complained about irregularities, citing corruption allegations against the judge involved.

Argentina was seeking reinstatement of the notices.

Argentine court officials said removal of the alerts, which means countries are no longer obliged to publish the arrest warrants, made it unlikely the suspects would ever be brought in for questioning.


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#40 Siamak

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 12:50 PM

In Iran, US runner joins the races



Sarah Kureshi was the only American athlete at the 4th Islamic Women Games.


TEHRAN, IRAN – The middle-distance runner didn't know what to expect, as the first American female athlete to compete in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
She even brought the Stars and Stripes, uncertain whether the Iranians would provide a flag for the opening ceremony.


But as the sole American competitor in the 4th Islamic Women Games in Tehran this week, she needn't have bothered. Officials here "had a big US flag ready," says Saira Kureshi, and Iranians have provided a big welcome to match.

"It's wonderful to get to know people as people, regardless of what the governments say," Ms. Kureshi says, referring to the 25-year estrangement between the US and the Islamic Republic. "Part of the purpose [of coming here] is to bridge some of the gaps ... and show Iran that Americans are interested in them and their culture."

Competing for medals has taken second place to the experience of visiting Iran and participating with nearly 1,700 young women from nearly 40 countries, in events ranging from handball to the high jump.

Kureshi ran one heat of the 1,500 meters before illness forced her to the sidelines. But she has been the focus of steady Iranian media interest, with journalists exploring her views of Iran and its stormy relations with the US.

"I'm proud to be an American Muslim athlete - I love America, and the freedom [there] to be a Muslim; and I love Iran," says Kureshi, who made the visit with one coach who helped organize the US presence.

Some 40 other Muslim-American women wanted to compete in Iran, but could not break from study or work commitments, says Kureshi, who last competed four years ago as a member of her college track and cross-country teams.

Kureshi only heard of the chance two months ago, when a message was sent out by the Muslim Women's League in the US, canvassing for participants. "No one in America had even heard of these games," says Kureshi, adding that she was nevertheless impressed by the level of competition.

A further group of seven non-Muslim women trainers were asked to introduce a new sport - they had chosen Ultimate Frisbee, and had printed 700 specially for the event - but were not granted visas.

The request had come from Faizah Hashemi, daughter of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who is head of Iran's Women's Sports Federation and organizer of the women's games.

Facing hurdles finding funding for the games, Ms. Hashemi told journalists that "we have to clarify that sports has no boundaries and in the first place stands for peace and friendship." Hashemi said her "biggest wish is for equality among men and women."

Kureshi is an unlikely but determined goodwill ambassador. A Muslim of Pakistani parentage, she is now a medical student on leave from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.

Last year, she earned a master's degree in public health from Harvard University, and has worked with sex-trafficking victims in India and with refugees on the Thai/Burmese border.

After the closing ceremony in Tehran Thursday, she planned to return home to the US for a week, before leaving again for a yearlong Koranic Arabic language course in Cairo, Egypt.

She speaks often of "empowering women through sports," and hopes in the future to work in the Middle East, starting public-health and preventive-medicine programs from within communities.

Kureshi's positive perceptions of Iran were first shaped by a women's studies class she took last year, and by her Iranian professor. But aside from Iranian journalists' questions about nuclear issues, there have been a few surprises.

When Kureshi competed in college, she wore long tights to cover her legs; her university let her fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

But throughout competition in Iran, men and photographers have only been allowed at a few venues, such as archery and golf, so it felt "like a college meet," Kureshi says. Women wore shorts and tank tops at most of the events.

Taking time out Wednesday, Kureshi shopped in the north Tehran district of Tajrish for manteaux, the Islamic overdress meant to hide the contours of the female form, but which in Iran in recent years have grown tighter and shorter.

Kureshi says she wants to write articles about her trip, hoping that her experience will go some way toward eventually bringing the US and Iran closer together.

Iranians have shown a deep interest in her presence and her perceptions, she says. Kureshi expects that Americans, too, will be interested in hearing from a person who has visited a nation President Bush labeled as part of the "axis of evil."

"If something good can come from [this competition], that will be wonderful," says Kureshi. "I think people will be very receptive, because when people in the US hear that you are going to Iran, their ears prick up."




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