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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Iran body seeks suicide 'martyrs'
By Frances Harrison
BBC News, Tehran

Rescue workers and police inspect a body at the site of a suicide bomb attack in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya
Palestinian suicide bombers are lionised in Iran
An advertisement in an Iranian publication has called for people to come forward for "martyrdom operations" against the enemies of Islam.

It is published by an institute managed by one of Iran's most conservative and radical clerics, Ayatollah Masbah Yazdi, who has declared his support for Iran's new President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

The advertisement calls for men and women to enlist with the "Martyrdom Lovers' Headquarters".

It says the idea is to achieve "all-out readiness" against the enemies of Islam - and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Those who are picked will be specially trained for their missions in different divisions in every province.

To apply, all that is needed are photographs, a form and a copy of a birth certificate.

Symbolic

This is not the first time Iranians have registered for suicide missions - though in Islam a clear distinction is made between ordinary suicide and martyrdom for a religious cause.

Several people have signed up with different organisations to defend the holy shrines in Iraq and the rights of Palestinians.

But in practice, their pledges are merely symbolic and it is highly unlikely that they would actually go on suicide missions.

One function was held earlier this year to honour dead Palestinian women suicide bombers, and a huge mural in central Tehran still depicts one Palestinian woman who had two children, yet chose to die.





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