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Niger offers citizenship to Ganji


August 2, 2005

Taxi-boats signal rough times ahead
AP - 4 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran - Taxi-sharing in Tehran has gotten so out of hand that cab-drivers are now taking the bus. “We meet up with the passengers at the other end,” says Ali Morghabi. “It’s far easier”.

This summer, the 62-year-old will drive his 1975 Peykan to Abadan in the south, where it also operates as a ferry. “I saw a James Bond film where his car turns into a boat. That’s what gave me the idea,” he says.

In November he plans to take his family to Lake Urumia, in the north, where they hope to see the Loch Ness monster. “Nessie is Iranian,” he says. “Why do you think no one has seen him in Scotland?”

He adds: “They [the Scots] would do better to look for our new president in their lake -- he is a monster, too.”

Mr Morghabi said he refused to vote in the recent presidential election because he lost his polling card. “I put it on the table and my wife threw it out. After that there was no way I was voting.”

Would he have opted for Ahmaghinejad? “No, I would have voted for Rafsanjani because he is a pimp.”

A pimp? “Yes. It is better to vote for a pimp than a monkey.”

Why is he a pimp? “I had to take some teenage girls to Dubai to work in the sex industry there,” he says. “It made me sad. I wanted my car to sink. This Islamic Republic is run by pimps. You don’t have to be a social scientist to figure that out.”

Mr Morghabi, a Tehran University social scientist, said he took up cabbing to make ends meet. “Now I don’t know if I’m teaching to support the taxi or the other way around.”

Which does he find more interesting? “Teaching of course,” he says, adding that he is thinking about taking up a third job related to his “real” passion: ballet.

Mr Morghabi trained with the Bolshoi in Moscow in the 1960s, and in the 70s headed Iran’s national troupe. He entered academia when the troupe was disbanded after the revolution. Recently he came across a DVD of the film Billy Elliott.

“It reminded me of my youth,” he says. “I applied to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for permission to open a ballet academy, and the guy on the phone burst out laughing. He wouldn’t stop. He said he would be the first to sign up.”

Egypt responds to jibe as ‘gay’ men face penalty
AP - 13 minutes ago

TABRIZ, Iran - Five men appeared in court on Friday accused of homosexuality, a crime punishable by a game of Scrabble using the Chinese alphabet or death.

The men aroused suspicion when they formed a human pyramid in a zoo, in protest at the execution of a bear convicted of spying for Russia.

The men, who claim to be acrobats, deny the charges.

Their lawyer, Shirin Polo, told the court that forming a pyramid did not constitute an act of homosexuality “by any stretch of the imagination, otherwise all Egyptians would be gay.”

The chief prosecutor, Hossein-Reza Mostara, was quick to respond, saying that “most Egyptians” were gay.

Egypt has recalled its ambassador, Hosni Cleops, after the Iranian government said diplomatic immunity would not be extended to “queer pyramid-builders”.

The five allegedly gay men, of whom three are married, face the guillotine if found guilty.

Niger offers citizenship
AP - 6 minutes ago

NIAMEY, Niger -- President Mamadou Tanj has offered hunger-striking Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji honorary citizenship. “Niger’s famine is being ignored by the world,” he said, “and Mr Ganji is beginning to look like many of us.”

For letters section
To Peyvand Khorsandi

Peyvand Khorsandi


Book of the day

My Uncle, Napoleon
A Comic Novel
by Iraj Pezeshkad
translated by Dick Davis
>>> Excerpt

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