Family spares ex-Tehran mayor facing death over wife’s murder

Najafi was convicted of killing his wife on May 28 at their home in Tehran. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019
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Family spares ex-Tehran mayor facing death over wife’s murder

  • The mayor was convicted of shooting his wife
  • Najafi received a two-year jail sentence for illegal possession of a firearm

TEHRAN: A former mayor of Tehran sentenced to death over the murder of his wife has been spared by her family in a post shared on Instagram on Wednesday.
Mohammad Ali Najafi, 67, was sentenced to death last month after being convicted of shooting dead his second wife Mitra Ostad at their home in the Iranian capital on May 28.
Ostad’s family had appealed for the Islamic law of retribution to be applied — an “eye for an eye” form of punishment which would have seen the death penalty served.
But her brother Masood Ostad said the family had decided to grant him a reprieve, according to a post on his private Instagram account cited by various media outlets.
State news agency IRNA said a lawyer for the family, Mahmoud Hajjiloui, had confirmed the reprieve.
In his Instagram post, the brother cited a verse from the Qur'an that says: “Allah loves the doers of good.”
“My father, my mother and our Mahyar (his sister’s son) forgive Mr.Mohammad Ali Najafi” after mediation that involved others, he wrote.
“We are happy that we made no deal for the blood of that honorable (person),” he added, referring to retribution for his sister’s murder.
“We hope Mr. Mohammad Ali Najafi in his remaining years... engages in cleansing himself.”
Najafi remains behind bars after also receiving a two-year jail sentence for illegal possession of a firearm, but it was not immediately known if he still has to serve time for murder.
The former mayor’s trial received detailed coverage in state media where scandals related to politicians rarely appear on television.
A mathematician, professor and veteran politician, Najafi had previously served as President Hassan Rouhani’s economic adviser and education minister.
He was elected Tehran mayor in August 2017, but resigned the following April after facing criticism from conservatives for attending a dance performed by schoolgirls.
Najafi married Ostad without divorcing his first wife, unusual in Iran where polygamy is legal but socially frowned upon.
Some of Iran’s ultra-conservatives said the case showed the “moral bankruptcy” of reformists, while reformists accused the conservative-dominated state television of bias in its coverage and highlighting the case for political ends.


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019
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Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.