Hundreds of people are evacuated from their homes in Sa Font, near the village of Calvia as a result of the massive forest fire. But they are not surprised. According to them the forest, which has now been reduced to ashes, has become little more than a rubbish tip, a tinder box just waiting for a spark. If Majorca is serious about fire prevention then the island authorities must make sure that attempts are made to clear the mountains of dumped rubbish which has become a major fire hazard. Naturally, it is difficult to prevent fire but areas which are at risk should be properly maintained and forestry officials especially vigilant. The local authorities have spent many millions of pesetas on fire prevention campaigns and the local fire brigade now has state of the art equipment supported by aircraft and helicopters. Also, there is now a greater awareness thanks to government publicity campaigns. As a direct result the number of forest fires has fallen over recent years. But still there is work to do. Majorca, thanks to development and fires, has few wooded areas remaining these days. Repairing the damage to Sa Font will take many years. At this time of the year we must all be vigilant.

The leader of the Balearic government Francesc Antich says that police are investigating the possibility that the fire was provoked. If we are to maintain the little we've got the local authorities have to step up their vigilance and make sure that all those who are caught dumping rubbish or making other fire hazards are fined or prosecuted.

Jason Moore

Dangerous Division

Having been re-elected President of Iran last June with 77 per cent of the public vote, Mohammad Khatami finally got to take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address this week. But not before Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, the leader of the highly conservative judiciary, warned him: “Failure to implement the Islamic aspects of the system is a betrayal. To neglect or to fail to accomplish this duty will be punishable in this world and in the hereafter.” Iran is today a nation dangerously divided between the reform–minded electorate which returned Khatami to power and a religious establishment and judiciary opposed to any relaxation of Islamic standards. Between the two sides stands Khatami who recognises both the inevitablity of change and the danger of trying to introduce it too radically. Although he is constitutionally the second most powerful person in the country, beneath the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he knows that the judiciary, senior clerics and the military are all able to block or delay his reforms.

Thus his inaugural address frequently emphasized the importance of upholding Islamic law while at the same time saying, pointedly, “We must do our best so that no one would accuse Islam of not being able to resolve economic, social, political and military problems”. Mohammad Khatami represents the hopes of Iran's amazingly young population - two thirds of its sixty million people are under the age of 21. If he cannot deliver at least some of their expectations as they grow to maturity Iran may once again face a revolution as it did when the Shah was overthrown in 1979.

Monitor

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