Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Esfandiari accused of apostacy

We have another indication as to why Haleh Esfandiari is being held in Iran. According to blogger Judith Apter Klinghoffer at the History News Network, Esfandiari has been accused of apostacy. This report is from a blog called Zaneirani that Klinghoffer links:
Haleh Esfandiari is a case to watch and read closely. Apostasy in Islam is punishable by death. In a recent article in Keyhan (the link was referred by a friend) I read about Haleh Esfandiari being an ex-Muslim. Apparently she had converted to Judaism after marring Shaul Bakhash (a renowned Iranian Zionist (exact word from the Keyhan article) who is currently teaching at a university in VA.) This means the Iranian regime can put Haleh Esfandiari to death because of converting to another religion. This is despite the fact that Dr. Esfandiari's boss is a supporter of a talk with the murderer regime of Iran. Last but not least... Hossein Shariatmadari the head of Keyhan is a Jewish converter to Islam. His siblings if I recall correctly live in France and are strong supporters of the Zionist movement.
Unfortunately, the only link in that post which is not to a Wikipedia page is in Farsi and I don't speak or read Farsi. But if Zaneirani is correct this is most serious indeed. You will note that in my post last night, I noted that her husband denied that she is a Zionist, but did not deny that she is or was a Jew, even though the source for my post - the Washington Post - did say that she is a Shiite Muslim. The fact that Hossein Shariatmadari converted to Judaism from Islam would only give him even more incentive to 'get' Esfandiari. Finally, I am assuming that "his siblings" refers to Shariatmadari and not to Bakhash. If I am wrong, Esfandiari has another problem.

Klinghoffer notes that Shaul Bakhash went on the BBC to confirm that Esfandiari is still a Muslim. The BBC program that she cites is not available on the Internet (and I have no idea who 'Dense Katty Kay' is), but it appears that Shaul Bakhash was interviewed by a dense - or Islamophilic - broadcaster:
Dense Katty Kay was less interested in the Haleh's fate than finding a way to justify her detention.

Iran does not accept dual citizenship, she remarked then asked Bakhash "What is the message Iran is sending to dual citizens such as Esfandiari?" Bakhash first tried to deflect her and than reminded her that his wife is in danger and that is the reason he came on the show.

Katty Kay promptly ended the interview. Unfortunately the exchange is not available on the internet.
The BBC notes that Esfandiari is not the only US citizen currently being held in Iran and adds yet another charge to the list:
Iran's Kayhan newspaper has accused Ms Esfandiari of spying for the US and Israel and of trying to incite a democratic revolution in the country.


Iranian authorities appear to be particularly suspicious of attempts by the Bush administration to promote democratic change in Iran, says the BBC's Middle East analyst, Roger Hardy.

Other Iranian-Americans have also been banned from leaving the country recently, including journalist Parnaz Azima, who works for the US-funded Radio Farda.

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in March on Iran's resort island of Kish.
Azima also entered Iran to visit a sick relative.

I'm sure many of you are wondering why US citizens are allowed to travel to Iran. The following is from the rather lengthy US State Department travel advisory on Iran:
U.S. citizens who were born in Iran, who have become naturalized citizens of Iran, or who were at one time citizens of Iran, and the children of such persons, are considered Iranian nationals by Iranian authorities. Therefore, despite the fact that these individuals possess U.S. citizenship, they must enter and exit Iran bearing an Iranian passport. Exit visas are required for dual nationals to depart Iran.

In addition to being subject to all Iranian laws, U.S. citizens who also possess Iranian citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Iran, such as military service or taxes. More specific information on Iranian passport and exit visa requirements may be obtained from the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.

Dual nationals sometimes have their U.S. passports confiscated and may be denied permission to leave Iran, or encounter other problems with Iranian authorities. Likewise, Iranian authorities may deny dual nationals access to the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran, because they are considered to be solely Iranian citizens. Refer to the above section entitled "Entry/Exit Requirements" for additional information concerning dual nationality.


While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Iranian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Fines, public floggings, and long prison terms are common. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, as well as persons who encourage Muslims to convert, are subject to arrest and possible execution. Drinking, possession of alcoholic beverages and drugs as well as flirting or having sexual contact outside of marriage are considered to be crimes. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Iran are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Iran executes many people each year on drug-related charges. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

U.S. citizens in Iran who violate Iranian laws, including laws that are unfamiliar to Westerners (such as those regarding the proper wearing of apparel), may face severe penalties.

The Iranian Government reportedly has the names of all individuals who filed claims against Iran at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague pursuant to the 1981 Algerian Accords. In addition, the Iranian Government reportedly has compiled a list of the claimants who were awarded compensation in the Iran Claims Program administered by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. The Iranian government is allegedly targeting award-holders who travel to Iran. It is reported that upon some claimants' entry into Iran, Iranian authorities question them as to the status of payment of their respective awards with a view to recouping the award money. It is also reported that the Iranian Government has threatened to prevent U.S. claimants who visit Iran from departing the country until they make arrangements to pay part or all of their award.
Why anyone would want to visit Iran is beyond me.


Post a Comment

<< Home