TEHRAN, IRAN, AMMAN, JORDAN, JERUSALEM
Denied Most Sports, Iranian Women Climb
A group of Iranian women plans to mark the 19th anniversary of the Iranian revolution next month by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency reported Monday.
The expedition will demonstrate "the capabilities of Iranian women to women living elsewhere in the world," IRNA quoted Zahra Shojaie, the presidential adviser on women's affairs, as saying.
Iranian women cannot take part in most international sports events because they must wear a loose sheet or coat over their clothes. Not to do so is considered sexually provocative - and a violation of the Islamic law. But Iran is trying to encourage the idea that Muslim women can take part in sports events despite the Islamic dress.
Last month the Iranians hosted the second Women's Islamic Games, in which 15 other countries also took part.
Will Jordan Elect Women?
Shut out in last November's Parliament elections, women are organizing to try to get the Jordanian government to adopt a quota to guarantee women representation.
Naria Shamroukh, a member of the Jordanian Women's Union, said on Sunday that Jordanian women's groups hoped to collect the signatures of 1 million women to underscore their demand.
She said that women should be allocated 20 percent of the seats in the 80-member, elected lower house.
Jordan's first and only woman parliament member, Toujan Faisal, lost her seat in last November's balloting. She later accused the government of vote fraud. Sixteen other women candidates did not win seats.
Palestinian Militant Released
Israel released a Palestinian woman Tuesday who had been jailed without charges since October and had become a symbol of resistance for many Palestinians.
Etaf Eliyan's mother and sisters covered her with kisses as she returned home in Bethlehem.
"They had no right to arrest me in the first place," Ms. Eliyan told reporters.
She was among a group of 23 Palestinian prisoners Israel said Tuesday it would soon free to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The prisoners were being released one or two months before completion of their terms, an official said.
Eliyan, an activist with the Islamic Jihad militant group, staged a 41-day hunger strike that ended last month when she reportedly received assurances that her case would be reviewed.
Under the military laws that Israel uses to govern the Palestinian territories, Palestinians considered to be security risks can be held indefinitely without charge or trial.
Eliyan was arrested in October on her way to a memorial for a slain Islamic Jihad leader. She first went to prison in 1987 for allegedly trying to blow up the office of a former Israeli premier.
She was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but won early release in February 1997 with 30 other Palestinian women prisoners as part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.