Iranians split on presidential vote as hardships mount

Iranians split on presidential vote as hardships mount
The election comes as Iran grapples with economic pressures, international sanctions and enforcement of the compulsory headscarves for women. (AP)
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Updated 21 June 2024
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Iranians split on presidential vote as hardships mount

Iranians split on presidential vote as hardships mount
  • The election comes as Iran grapples with economic pressures, international sanctions and enforcement of the compulsory headscarves for women

TEHRAN: With just a week remaining before a presidential election, Iranians are divided over whether voting will address pressing economic issues and mandatory hijab laws.
Iranians head to the polls on June 28 to choose from six candidates — five conservatives and a relative reformist — to succeed Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month.
The election comes as Iran grapples with economic pressures, international sanctions and enforcement of the compulsory headscarves for women.
“They promise change, but won’t do much,” said Hamid Habibi, a 54-year-old shop owner at Tehran’s bustling Grand Bazar.
“I’ve watched the debates and campaigns; they speak beautifully but need to back their words with action,” he said.
Despite his skepticism, Habibi plans to vote next week.
The candidates have held two debates, each pledging to tackle the financial challenges impacting the country’s 85 million people.
“The economic situation is deteriorating daily, and I don’t foresee any improvements,” said Fariba, a 30-year-old who runs an online store.
“Regardless of who wins, our lives won’t change,” she said.

Others, like 57-year-old baker Taghi Dodangeh, remain hopeful.
“Change is certain,” he said, viewing voting as a religious duty and national obligation.
But Jowzi, a 61-year-old housewife, expressed doubts, especially about the candidate line-up.
“There’s hardly any differences between the six,” she said. “One cannot say any of them belongs to a different group.”
Iran’s Guardian Council approved six candidates after disqualifying most moderates and reformists.
Leading contenders include conservative parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the sole reformist candidate, Masoud Pezeshkian.
Keshvar, a 53-year-old mother, intends to vote for the candidate with the most robust economic plan.
“Young people are grappling with economic hardships,” she said.
“Raisi made efforts, but on the ground, things didn’t change much for the general public, and they were unhappy.”
In the 2021 election that brought Raisi to power, many voters stayed away, resulting in a participation rate just under 49 percent — the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged a high voter turnout.
Yet, 26-year-old shopkeeper Mahdi Zeinali said he would only vote if a candidate proves to be “the right person.”
This election comes at a turbulent time, with the Gaza war raging between Iran’s adversary Israel and Tehran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas, along with ongoing diplomatic tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
Compulsory hijab laws remain contentious, particularly since mass protests triggered by the 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, was detained for an alleged breach of Iran’s dress code for women, who are required to cover their heads and necks and wear modest clothing in public.
Despite increased enforcement, many women, especially in Tehran, defy the dress code.
Fariba expressed concern that after the election, “things would go back to where they were,” and young women won’t be able to remove their headscarves.
Jowzi, an undecided voter who wears a veil, regards it as a “personal” choice and opposes state interference.
“It makes no difference who becomes president,” she said.
“What’s important is what they actually do. It’s not important to me whether or not they have a turban. They need to act humanely.”


Jordanian House of Representatives dissolved by royal decree ahead of elections

Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree. (@Parliament_Jo)
Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree. (@Parliament_Jo)
Updated 9 sec ago
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Jordanian House of Representatives dissolved by royal decree ahead of elections

Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree. (@Parliament_Jo)
  • The IEC has set Sept. 10 as the date for parliamentary elections

LONDON: Jordan’s House of Representatives was dissolved on Thursday by royal decree, the Royal Hashemite Court has announced.

King Abdullah ordered elections to be held for the House of Representatives on April 24 and visited the Independent Election Commission to check on preparations to administer and oversee the electoral process on the same day.

The IEC has set Sept. 10 as the date for the parliamentary elections.


Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs

Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs
Updated 34 min 55 sec ago
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Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs

Iran hangs final defendant in 2008 case after ‘unfair trial’: NGOs
  • The seven were convicted on the capital crime of corruption on earth
  • The rights group said at least 20 people have been executed since Saturday

PARIS: Iranian authorities on Thursday executed Kurdish man Kamran Sheikheh, the last surviving defendant in a case linked to a Muslim cleric’s killing in 2008, rights groups said.
Sheikheh, one of seven men first arrested in the case more than 14 years ago, was put to death in Urmia prison in northwestern Iran, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said in separate statements.
Sheikheh’s six co-defendants, also members of Iran’s Kurdish minority, had all been executed in separate hangings since November 2023.
Amnesty International has said they had been sentenced to death “in a grossly unfair trial” that had been “marred by allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.”
The seven were convicted on the capital crime of corruption on earth.
IHR described Sheikheh as a “political prisoner” who had been sentenced to death “based on torture-tainted confessions in a grossly unfair trial.”
The execution “was unlawful according to international law and the Islamic republic’s own laws, amounting to an extrajudicial killing,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.
HRANA said that the proceedings related to the killing of an imam of a mosque in the northwestern city of Mahabad in September 2008.
Sheikheh and the six others were arrested in connection with the killing in January and February 2010 and sentenced to death in 2018.
Activists say that Iran’s use of the death penalty disproportionately targets members of the Kurdish and Baluch ethnic minorities in western and southeast Iran, who generally adhere to the Sunni strain of Islam rather than the Shiism otherwise dominant in Iran.
In one of the latest cases, rights groups said the Revolutionary Court of Tehran had sentenced Pakhshan Azizi, a Kurdish woman held in the capital’s Evin prison, to death on charges of “rebellion.”
Earlier this month, Iranian authorities have sentenced to death another Kurdish woman, Sharifeh Mohammadi, on the same charges over accusations of links to an outlawed Kurdish organization.
IHR warned that Sheikheh’s execution is part of a new surge in hangings in Iran marking the end of an apparent lull coinciding with snap presidential elections several weeks ago.
The rights group said at least 20 people have been executed since Saturday.


Palestinian Olympic team greeted with cheers and gifts in Paris

Palestinian Olympic team greeted with cheers and gifts in Paris
Updated 39 min 11 sec ago
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Palestinian Olympic team greeted with cheers and gifts in Paris

Palestinian Olympic team greeted with cheers and gifts in Paris
  • Palestinian ambassador to France Hala Abou called for France to formally recognize a Palestinian state and for a boycott of the Israeli Olympic delegation

PARIS: Palestinian Olympic athletes were greeted with a roar of a crowd and gifts of food and roses as they arrived in Paris on Thursday, ready to represent war–torn Gaza and the rest of the territories on a global stage.
As the beaming athletes walked through a sea of Palestinian flags at the main Paris airport, they said they hoped their presence would serve as a symbol amid the Israel-Hamas war that has claimed more than 39,000 Palestinian lives.
Athletes, French supporters and politicians in the crowd urged the European nation to recognize a Palestinian state, while others expressed outrage at Israel’s presence at the Games after UN-backed human rights experts said Israeli authorities were responsible for “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The same report said Palestinian militants committed war crimes during the first months of the war in Gaza, which began after Hamas launched deadly attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has rejected the allegations from the independent experts.
“France doesn’t recognize Palestine as a country, so I am here to raise the flag,” said Yazan Al-Bawwab, a 24-year-old Palestinian swimmer born in Saudi Arabia. “We’re not treated like human beings, so when we come play sports, people realize we are equal to them.”
“We’re 50 million people without a country,” he added.
Al-Bawwab, one of eight athletes on the Palestinian team, signed autographs for supporters and plucked dates from a plate offered by a child in the crowd.
The chants of “free Palestine” echoing through the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport show how conflict and the political tension are rippling through the Olympic Games. The world is coming together in Paris at a moment of global political upheaval, multiple wars, historic migration and a deepening climate crisis, all issues that have risen to the forefront of conversation in the Olympics.
In May, French President Emmanuel Macron said he prepared to officially recognize a Palestinian state but that the step should “come at a useful moment” when emotions aren’t running as high. That fueled anger by some like 34-year-old Paris resident Ibrahim Bechrori, who was among dozens of supporters waiting to greet the Palestinian athletes in the airport.

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GALLERY: Fans celebrate as Palestinian Olympic team arrive in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

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“I’m here to show them they’re not alone, they’re supported,” Bechrouri said. Them being here “shows that the Palestinian people will continue to exist, that they won’t be erased. It also means that despite the dire situation, they’re staying resilient. They’re still a part of the world and are here to stay.”
Palestinian ambassador to France Hala Abou called for France to formally recognize a Palestinian state and for a boycott of the Israeli Olympic delegation. Abou has previously said she has lost 60 relatives in the war.
“It’s welcome that comes as no surprise to the French people, who support justice, support the Palestinian people, support their inalienable right to self-determination,” she said.
That call for recognition comes just a day after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a scathing speech to Congress during a visit to Washington, which was met with protests. He declared he would achieve “total victory” against Hamas and called those protesting the war on college campuses and elsewhere in the US “useful idiots” for Iran.
Israel’s embassy in Paris echoed the International Olympic Committee in a “decision to separate politics from the Games.”
“We welcome the Olympic Games and our wonderful delegation to France. We also welcome the participation of all the foreign delegations,” the Embassy wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. “Our athletes are here to proudly represent their country, and the entire nation is behind to support them.”
The AP has made multiple attempts to speak with Israeli athletes without success.
Even under the best of circumstances, it is difficult to maintain a vibrant Olympics training program in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. That’s become next to impossible in nine months of war between Israel and Hamas as much of the country’s sporting infrastructure have been devastated.
Among the large Palestinian diaspora worldwide, many of the athletes on the team were born or live elsewhere, yet they care deeply about the politics of their parents’ and grandparents’ homeland. Among them was Palestinian American swimmer Valerie Tarazi, who handed out traditional keffiyehs to supporters surrounding her Thursday.
“You can either crumble under pressure or use it as energy,” she said. “I chose to use it as energy.”


Egypt raises fuel prices as part of IMF-backed reforms

Egypt raises fuel prices as part of IMF-backed reforms
Updated 25 July 2024
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Egypt raises fuel prices as part of IMF-backed reforms

Egypt raises fuel prices as part of IMF-backed reforms
  • The price hike would come into effect on Friday
  • Egypt has also been caught in regional tensions, with bloody wars raging in neighboring Gaza and Sudan

CAIRO: Egypt announced Thursday a 15-percent increase in petrol prices, part of a reform package requested by the International Monetary Fund to proceed with a $5 billion loan to the cash-strapped government.
The Egyptian petroleum ministry said the price hike would come into effect on Friday.
The announcement comes ahead of an IMF meeting on Monday to review the April payout package, unlocking $820 million in funds after Cairo received another such tranche of the loan in late June.
Egypt is suffering its worst ever economic crisis, with ballooning foreign debt driving up inflation and resulting in several consecutive devaluations of the local currency against the dollar.
Inflation peaked at nearly 40 percent last year, before winding down to 27.5 percent in June.
The IMF has demanded wide-ranging reforms, most notably adopting a liberal exchange regime as well as limiting government spending and incentivising private investment.
Alongside the economic crisis, Egypt has also been caught in regional tensions, with bloody wars raging in neighboring Gaza and Sudan.
Attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis on shipping around the Red Sea have also hit revenues from Egypt’s Suez Canal, recording a 23.4-percent drop in the 2023-2024 fiscal year compared to the previous one.
The key waterway, which connects Asia to Europe, normally carries about 12 percent of global maritime trade.


Iran condemns US for welcoming Israeli PM Netanyahu

Iran condemns US for welcoming Israeli PM Netanyahu
Updated 25 July 2024
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Iran condemns US for welcoming Israeli PM Netanyahu

Iran condemns US for welcoming Israeli PM Netanyahu
  • ‘The American government and Congress are welcoming this executioner with applause,’ says Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani in a post on X

TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday denounced the US government and Congress for welcoming the Israeli prime minister amid the deadly war in Gaza that is raging into its 10th month.
“Palestinian children are slaughtered every day by the Tel Aviv butcher, and in the face of all these crimes, the American government and Congress are welcoming this executioner with applause,” said Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani in a post on X.
“The criminal prime minister of a fake regime is embraced by his supporters after nine months of genocide and infanticide,” he added, referring to Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed the US congress on Wednesday.
The remarks came after Netanyahu called for an alliance against what he described as an Iranian “axis of terror,” claiming Tehran is behind almost all sectarian killing in the Middle East.
“America and Israel today can forge a security alliance in the Middle East to counter the growing Iranian threat,” he told US lawmakers.
The months-long Gaza war was triggered when Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,197 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Out of 251 people taken hostage that day, 111 are still being held inside the Gaza Strip, including 39 who the military says are dead.
More than 39,100 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip since the war began, according to the health ministry of Hamas-run Gaza.
Iran had hailed the October 7 attack but said it was not involved in it.