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/ 14 January 2008

Life behind closed curtains

The scenes of boisterous revelry would not have been out of place in a crowded nightclub. In time to a throbbing beat, men and women of varying ages danced with a sensuality and abandon at odds with their surroundings. For this frivolity was taking place not on a dance floor, but in the passageway of an Iranian bus on a seemingly humdrum cultural excursion from Tehran to the western city of Hamedan.

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/ 1 October 2007

No gay people in Iran?

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s combative president, provoked his latest controversy in New York this week by asserting that there were no homosexuals in his country, he may have been indulging in sophistry or just plain wishful thinking. While Ahmadinejad may want to believe that his Islamic society is exclusively non-gay, it is a belief undermined by the paradox that transsexuality and sex changes are tolerated and encouraged under Iran’s theocratic system.

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/ 25 September 2007

‘Donkey economics’ damaging Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suffered an embarrassing blow to his prestige after his own party attacked him for adopting a jocular tone towards inflation at a time of rampant price rises. The Islamic Revolution Devotees Society has added its voice to a rising chorus of economic discontent by warning the president that spiralling living costs are hurting the poor and undermining his stated goal of social justice.

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/ 12 June 2007

Ahmadinejad’s ‘gift to his pals’

Iran’s financial system suffered a fresh jolt last month with panic selling on the stock market after the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, abruptly ordered banks to cut interest rates sharply, despite surging inflation. The order, which Ahmadinejad issued by telephone during a visit to Belarus and which flew in the face of expert advice, has triggered warnings of a financial crisis.

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/ 11 June 2007

Iran: minister’s alternative to pre-marital sex

Iran’s interior minister has challenged a social taboo by urging the revival of the ancient Shia practice of temporary marriage to give young people easier legitimate access to sex. Moustafa Pourmohammadi, the minister, said the tradition, known as sigheh, should be promoted to offset a trend towards later marriage, which he said was depriving Iran’s youth of sexual fulfilment.

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/ 12 March 2007

A very public struggle

The bitter rivalry between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country’s leading elder statesman has erupted into a public struggle for control over economic policy. Hashemi Rafsanjani, the president’s most influential opponent, set the scene for a power struggle by telling Iranian journalists that Ahmadinejad’s "trial period is over".