Saturday, January 22, 2005

Some Good News From Iran (or Not)

My new promise is to try to blog on positive developments on the weekends, if at all possible. That way my dear readers don't have to take antacids nonstop. Here is a positive development: Women in Iran have been judged as capable of running for the president of the country:

"If they posses the necessary qualifications, women can also run for president," the television quoted Guardian Council spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as saying.

The announcement clears up ambiguities within the constitution about whether only men can hold the post. Under Iran's constitution, the president must be elected from among political "rijal." Rijal is an Arabic word that can be interpreted as men or simply political personalities regardless of their gender.

For the last quarter century, "rijal" has been interpreted to mean a man. Of course what this will mean in practise is not so clear. The "necessary qualifications" could be manipulated in various ways, but at least this is a step forwards. This is good.

Or is it? Thanks to Kait in the comments of this post for alerting me to this:

Iran has denied allowing women to take part in this year's presidential elections.
However Elham told a state-run news agency, ISNA, "I have not changed the meaning of the word rejal".

"I never had an interview on such a subject on television, and the article published is not correct", he said.

Hmmm. Someone must have given Elham a phone call.