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Iran offers scholarships to veiled foreign students

Written by: Staff
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TEHRAN, Aug 24 (Reuters) Iran is offering university scholarships to foreigners who face problems at home for wearing Muslim headscarves, and students from Lebanon.

Hassan Moslemi-Naini, general-director of the Science, Research and Technology Ministry, told the semi-official Mehr News Agency yesterday that Iran wanted to defend the religious rights of Muslims against Western ways of life.

''Those foreign students facing problems for wearing hejab (the Islamic headscarf) can apply to continue their studies in Iran,'' he was quoted as saying.

''So far, the ministry has facilitated the registration of five students wearing headscarves from countries such as France and Turkey.'' Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim but has a secular constitutional system, bans women from wearing headscarves in universities. France has banned overt religious symbols in schools although headscarves are allowed in universities.

Under Iran's strict Islamic dress code all women must cover their hair and hide the shape of their bodies with loose-fitting clothes.

Moslemi-Naini also said: ''We offer scholarships to the Lebanese students who want to continue their studies in Iran.'' Iran says it is working on an aid package to help rebuild shattered areas of Lebanon after the month-long war between Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas and Israel, which Tehran has said was a victory for the Iranian-backed group.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sought to build up Iran's influence in the region and beyond. Iran is involved in a protracted dispute with the West about its nuclear ambitions.

REUTERS VJ BST0438

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