Bob's fabricated interview with Iran's ambassador to the U.N., Javad
Bob: In the news this week
was The Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif. Javad spent
a good part of the week explaining that key Al Qaeda operatives inside Iran
could not have participated in recent terrorist activities in Saudi Arabia.
You seem to share some qualities with Iraqi ambassador, Muhammed al-Douri,
do you know him?
Kadkhodaa kargadan ast konoon...
The condemned prisoner chose not to beg for mercy. Instead, in his native tongue, he called curse after curse down upon the head of the king, defiling the air around us with his words. As I stood there with nothing to do but listen, I remembered these lines:
A man confronting death who gives up hope
On the banning of religious symbols in French government schools
We do not divide society into religions, nationalities and beliefs. It is only in the present system that you witness an Imam or a mullah suddenly becoming the 'advocate' of a section of the society and turning the lives of many women and children who happen to live in a Muslim community in the heart of European democracy into hell. It is exactly these relations that pave the way for honour killings, recruit soldiers for Islam, impose different norms in the society, and terrorize people. All this is done while barricading behind the wall of 'democracy', 'freedom of religion' and 'minority rights'! This is apartheid and racism. We do not accept it. We say citizens should be equal before the law. Religion, race, and no 'minority' or 'majority' defines individuals and the civil rights of citizens.
Photos & video clips
Report on the extent of freedom in Iran
Iranians cannot change their government democratically. The most powerful figure in the Iranian government is the Supreme Leader (Vali-e-Faghih), currently Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei; he is chosen for life by the Assembly of Experts, a clerics-only body whose members are elected to eight-year terms by popular vote from a government-screened list of candidates. The Supreme Leader is commander in chief of the armed forces and appoints the leaders of the judiciary, the heads of state broadcast media, the commander of the IRGC, the Expediency Council, and half the members of the Council of Guardians. Although the president and parliament are responsible for designating cabinet ministers, the Supreme Leader exercises de facto control over appointments to the ministries of Defense, the Interior, and Intelligence.
I would rather try to weave the threads of my own destiny and maintain
the illusion of control then surrender whole
Divine be this moment that lingers ever so slightly before departing into the abyss of the past. Departing into that collection of events we call history... Illusion be this thing we call time, for it has no substance of its own. It measures only that which has been and all that ever will. All that exists is this moment, and I tell you my friend, it is divine. It matters not who we are. It matters not what we do. For the beggar in the street and the king on the throne are both god, manifest in the divinity of the moment, flowing in the eternity of the dream that is dreaming us.
Why it matters to know about Africa and the rest of the world?
there is often a palpable resistance, a sort of willful ignorance -- almost a vehemence -- against knowing too much about the continent in whose exploitation we share such a disturbing complicity. From our parents' generation, there is an understandable, if a bit ugly, fuzziness about The Dark Continent. There were no "countries" -- no concern whatsoever, and the resulting violence is perversely used as "evidence" that such people cannot govern themselves. Popular culture sustained and deepened the official myths, if African managed to register at all on the cultural radar.
It is Islam that poses a formidable challenge to democracy
In a society, where everyone has a right to believe according to their own standards, everyone in effect has a right to be wrong. The thesis that all points of view are equally valid is clearly ridiculous. The absence of permanent values leads to hedonism, making pleasure the greatest attainable good. And we see this today in America, freedom translates to the glorification of satisfying one's carnal desires. What then is the difference between humans and animals? Thus, freedom becomes the freedom to pursue self-destructive tendencies. This is in utter contradiction with the Islamic injunction of "enjoin the good and forbid the wrong."
And to my amazement my mother responded by saying "Shahrokh, go
do your homework"
I knew that I could not have just imagined what I had seen. There was a monkey up there and I had to expose it to prove that I was not a liar. So the next day, when I thought that the tenants had left, I took the spare key to the upstairs apartment from my dad's desk drawer, and cautiously went up the stairs. I wasn't scared of getting caught because of my experiences of stealing fruit from the neighbor's cherry tree had me well prepared for this type of a covert operation.
At five in the morning Mr Potato woke up in a sweat
Mr Potato knew he had to act. He knew that all Potatoland citizens looked the same, but he would stay bottom of the sack so long as he continued being last to work. So he bought an Alarm Zapper, a device that fixed onto the head with hydraulic clamps. The danger was that if he failed to get up, it would start to peel him. Peeled potatoes were looked down upon by all of the other potatoes in the land -- even those who were never on time.
"Raz-e Eshgh" has more than a few catchy tunes
Free yourselves of religious tyranny, go for secular democracy
In the last 4-5 centuries however Islam has turned intellectually uninteresting which is what it shares with the fundamentalists of other faiths. There is a lack of capacity for open discussions and an intolerance of differing opinions. This in turn is the fruit of irrationality caused by the unquestioning submission to dogma. It is time for Islam to either take the steps towards reform and adjust to the times or become passé within the next four decades with of course a lot of bloodshed in between. So why not declaring Jihad for peace and the building of heaven on earth before landing on the eternal one?
They waited for the orders to charge, the more zealous men
whispering prayers and praises of the Imam
There was no particular reason for his going to the avenue that morning. Reza had phoned and suggested a stroll but there was no urgency in his voice. A stroll was actually a chance away from home and the constant talk about missed friends and relatives, either overseas, as his brother in California, or dead in the war, as his neighbor Mehrdad. He, too, had been encouraged by the neighborhood mullah and the school teacher to go to the front to serve the Islamic Republic, but his parents had pleaded with the "Committee" to allow him to reach his sixteenth birthday before offering his services to the Imam.
Photo essay: Iran
Harems of the East
I was born naked from all religions but your love
I don't care if you are you and I am I. I am not some exotic flower. Whatever coat you have on, I will put it on to warm me... and the shoes however small... I will walk in them to balance our height difference. You don‚t need to convert for me; I have already converted to you. You see I never had a religion to begin with. I was born naked from all religions but your love.
Ecxerpt from a novel
"Go back to your husband, sister. You are disobeying your husband. That is not good. Women must do what their men want." Said one of the mullahs. "You should be ashamed of yourself, you are just a woman. You have to obey your man no matter what, and you must always remember that," said another one. "Your husband has every right to be angry with you, woman, low female creature..." They were going on and on and on, repeatedly reminding me that I had no place in their world. And I sat there, pretending, that I was listening to them, I was miles away thinking of other things.
Many are not familiar with "mehhr" obviously because
this word is not used much in colloquial Persian for its meaning as love
Love in Persian is mehhr and to love is mehhr varzidan. Other words connected to this are mehhrbaan, mehhrbaani and mehhrgaan. Mehhr is another name for Mithra (the sun god/god of light) before the Zoroastrian religion became the official religion in Sassanid period (226-649 AD). Mithraism was widely spread towards the west up to the river Danube. But some traces of Mithra worship have been also found in Ireland. When Ahura Mazda was recognised as the dominant god in Zoroastrianism Mithra like other deities was declared as an angel. In this way Mehhr / Mithra became an angel of light. For the Romans however Mithraism remained a flourishing cult for men in the late Roman Empire.
Balance of forces following Ahmadinejad's election
When I woke up I felt a sharp pain in my back and the room
was in darkness
It was some times that I was mesmorised by those beautiful Brazilian girls who paraded their heavenly bodies on the beaches of Rio do Janeiro and being a human I had decided that I must embark on a trip to the city and taste what was on offer in Rio, being married with 3 children I made the excuse of going on a business trip to Brazil for a week and promised to bring back some worthy presents for the family.
Malihe was different. From conception, she acted differently and unusual in the womb. As a fetus, she was agile and active. When her mother was carrying her in her belly, she often felt unusual symptoms. She had already bore six babies in a time span of six years, hence it was hard to assume that she was unfamiliar with the symptoms of pregnancy and its complications. But this one was a different breed. The baby kicked and moved a lot. The mother endured repeated and unusual morning sickness. The whole period of pregnancy was harsh and intolerable. She endured a great deal of difficulties carrying her for the whole seven months.
Yesterday I accompanied five women to a park to observe an exhibition of contemporary sculpture. The children in the playground were older than the ones I was used to seeing around the [San Francisco] Bay Area. We walked past three retired old men, in usnison their gaze turned to me as the women had passed them. I nodded a greeting and all three responded naturally and immedeately "salam". Quenching momentarily that prepetual need I have for an acknowledgement of that brief moment we pass one another.
The irony of contemprary art residing within or on the edge of an ideology that parries challenges to the imperative of redefinition is striking and immediate. A curved and abstract ram makes me think that is what the rough edges have to evolve into. Then some moments later in the tea house the waiter apologetically brings a pair of complimentary socks for one of the ladies and asks to do the same for Bella. Bella pulls down her skirt lower and the socks wearing standoff is averted. The women are covered with so much cloth as if that can restrain their power. I observe this all clad in a a t-shirt sipping a supremely satisfying sharbat-e albaloo in a wine glass.
The true lover has everything to lose
I realize that present-day Iran and 19th century England have more in
common than meets the eye. But at the end of the day, it is only a matter
"Now listen to me," she says importantly. "There is a very handsome young man here this evening." I smile politely but make no comment. "Look," she presses, nodding her head to the right. "He’s right over there. His name is Ali. Wouldn’t you like to meet him?" She looks at me expectantly. I mumble an excuse and rush off. She finds me after five minutes and taps me on the shoulder. I turn around. There she is, beaming at me, and with the poor chap in tow! She begins the typical introductions: Ali is "very successful" and "runs his own business" and I am "a fine girl" from "an excellent family" and "did you know, she even speaks German," the last word drawn out like dripping honey.
Contempt for Aramesh Doustdar has nothing to do with his atheism
From what I "have" read of man's work, I can discern the following: Doustdar has made a career on the claim that thinking is impossible in Iran and in Persian because of our subservience to religion. Fine. Let's say the impossibility is so dense that even Mr. Doustdar can't see through it to offer us one original thought in Persian -- no, the "very original" thought that thinking is impossible doesn't count. So, where is his contribution to Western philosophy in other languages that he has putatively mastered? Where are his volumes in German or French on Kant and Hegel and Heidegger?
The Islamic Republic of Iran will give way to democracy not *because*
of our great thinkers and intellectuals, but in spite of them
People created the constitution of the United States at a time when the ultimate imaginable position of freedom and power was to be British and a loyal subject of the king. A time when slavery was an accepted fact of life. A time when a great man like Alexander Hamilton would get into a *duel* with the vice president and die. And yet, their writings and arguments show that they were far ahead of our most elite Iranian intellectuals of TODAY!
Heechkas nemidaanad keh een roozhaa cheh migozarad
Offerings from North-Eastern Iranian culture
The Moving Finger Writes; and, Having Writ
The Judge then told him: "Stop by anytime..." [pause]
Strongest point of contention for me is the link between Ahmadinejad's
supposed popularity and his proposed economic planning
I feel you are doing some image-repairing for Ahmadinejad. It's genius to claim to be a populist while pocketing untold billions of dollars that rightly belong to the Iranian public. Ahmadinejad's unfortunate victory is the latest symbol of Iranians' knee-jerk resistance to their oppressive government, and is devoid of legitimacy to the 45% of the eligible voting population that did not partake in the elections. Why reinvent an obedient regime soldier as a populist hero battling neo-liberal forces?
Photo essay: Antalya, Turkey
Politics & words
An anecdote from bazaar bozorg
I was in the bazaar bozorg, waiting for my parents to "chuneh" with a certain vendor, when one of the young workers, who couldn't have been older than eighteen, grabbed my attention. "Where are you from?" he asked. "The United States," I said. He reflected for a moment, and then he asked, "Do you eat a lot of sex in America?" "Well... ," I started slowly. But he didn't even give me a chance. "Here, in Iran, I eat sex, three times a week," he said proudly.
Struck by lightning on a flight from Tehran to Ahvaz
Meet Mike. Mike goes to high school everyday. He walks the lonesome path from school to home. He has what some people would call A.D.D., so he can't pay attention too well anywhere or at anytime. His teachers think that he will never amount to anything. His parents think he's a lost cause. His friends... well, he doesn't have too many of them. Actually, he only has one friend -- Fredrick. When Mike is down and needs some advice or company, good old Freddy is always there for him. Fred has it pretty good -- he is a straight-A student, varsity basketball player, and all around great guy.
Brazilians I saw to be a highly sociable and charming people among whom
hugging, kissing, and passionately engaging interactions are as normal as
Inadequacies of a purely non-violent strategy
Akbar Ganji could have been in Istanbul and receive more public sympathy
The Islamic Regime is in fact supporting and promoting Ganji’s hunger strike for one important fact -- to prove to the Iranians inside the country and most importantly to show to the thousands of Iranians abroad that “you have no voice and power.” The British have proved to us repeatedly that we can only mourn our heroes and we never get a chance to raise them to the pedestal of leadership, because first they get assassinated and most importantly we prefer shedding tears for a disaster than the elation of success. This is the doctrine of the Iranian version of Islam.
Palestinians look on, as the sulking Zionists roll up their rugs
"Sahar, Khanoom," Haniye started asking me "Are you married?" Where
the hell did that come from? Please shoot me now.
A few weeks ago I was enjoying one of those rare Saturday mornings, I was alone in my apartment and didn't have to be anywhere, no papers due, hadn't taken any work home, didn't have to go grocery-shopping, didn't have any family obligations. I had the whole morning to my self. I actually had time to read the paper and drink my cup of coffee while sitting down. As I was enjoying the virtues of being single and untied my phone rang. I answered it not taking my eyes from my paper.
... to fathom the existence of a great marriage
Have you ever thought that a revolution may have had something to do with the psyche and therefore downfall of some Iranian marriages? Not to mention, Iranian women who've come to this country and have become more successful than their husbands, that is the main reason my mom's friends have divorced -- so add these criteria to your statistics. People like you -- who marry for the wrong reason(s), will end up middle-aged, divorced, and unhappy. The only time anyone should get married is when and only when they are ready. I am getting married in 2 weeks and I couldn't be more thrilled and excited, because I'm marrying my best friend.
All systems harbor their own seeds of destruction and will sooner or
later give birth to their own opposites
I'd like to remind my brethren in arms that this is a crucial point in our history. With effort we can transform this time into a hinge at which our fate could turn a new page and give us the opportunity to freely create our own destiny on the blank canvas of tomorrow. The enemy is weak and retreating. Its cause forever lost and its roots exposed. This is the time to strike. This is the time for dealing hammer after sledge hammer of philosophical blows to the roots of this evil which has for so long befallen our proud nation.
Worries about mom and dad's mortality has made me want to go
to Iran sooner and more often
Lately, I have noticed that I think about my parents more. The fact that they are mortal and will be gone has started to bother me. I can't get it out of my head and I'm afraid I'm going to lose them. This has made me want to go to Iran sooner and more often. As most of us who work and run a business know, that is just not possible. It is not a weekend trip. Knowing that little fact doesn't help my guilt however, that I have abandoned them and the burden of their old age, doctor visits, and needs of any kind has fallen on my sisters' shoulders. Sending money only remedies that guilt a little, but it does not, in any ways, replace my being there.
A child’s right to maintain the integrity of his/her healthy
body should not be violated
The foreskin protects the glands of sexual organs. Thus the foreskin is an essential part of human sexual anatomy. The foreskin is a sensitive, functional organ with a rich concentration of blood vessels and nerve endings to keep the glands soft, moist and sensitive. The general studies have proved that all individuals, regardless of religion or gender, who have genital cutting imposed upon them as unconsenting children, bear different degrees of physical, sexual or psychological wounding.
To millions of voters of modest means, Ahmadinejad symbolizes resistance
to the anti-democratic global free-trade elite with whom the relatively secular
reform movement has aligned itself
There is a quite modern side to his grassroots popularity, too, that stresses non-dependent national development. Like the French and Dutch rejection of the proposed EU constitution earlier this summer, Ahmadinejad's landslide win was a vote for authenticity and against forced globalization. At a time when rational science is trashed in America by fundamentalist evangelicals tied to the White House, Ahmadinejad won on a platform promising to double the already exploding public funding for advanced scientific research.
New-conservatives, regime crisis and political perspectives in Iran
What is totally unprecedented is what took place in June. The world witnessed structural, nation-wide and highly organised deception, led from the apex of the pyramid of power in favour of one candidate that took not just the world, but a large section of the ruling elite of Iran by surprise. The shape and scope of this scheme was such that it would not be an exaggeration to state that Ahmadinejad, a commander in the Revolutionary Guards Corps, took over the presidential palace through a blood-less coup or as revolutionary guard commander Zolqadr said afterwards "in a complex way ... and [through] multi-layered planning".
Remembering a great man
Laughing at clouds of darkness
For Akbar Ganji
I wish for them nothing but a soothing and serene sleep
Recently, I have spent most nights chronically unable to sleep. Lying there awake I analyze the situation I have found myself in but never quite find a solution. I actually think I may be losing my marbles -- as the saying goes. I had always considered myself quite hard-boiled and emotionally prepared for anything obscene, offensive, and outrageous that the music business could throw at me, but, for the moment, my life seems to have choked on a piece of bad news.
The diminishing bond of Iranian marriage
It is not a secret that many Iranians who live abroad have fallen prey for the ever-increasing divorce rate. One has to ask: does marriage still offer a perfect arena for mutual love, happiness, and fortune? Or do the transformations of the twenty-first century necessitate a call for casting a new light on marriage and relationship? Approaching this question is likely to offend the readers. However, the purpose here is not to ridicule anyone who chooses to marry, but to instigate a debate on this very important issue.
Two years ago, as I was driving on my way to Shiraz to see Persepolis and Pasargade, I noticed this fortress that dates back from the Sassanian era (224-651 CE) in the Shahr-Reza area in a small village/town called Izadkhast, which is also known az Yazdekhast. So, I made a point to go there on my next trip. So, two years later, I made it to Izadkhast. The fortress is actually much bigger than I had imagined and going inside it, I can tell you that it's easily a walled city.
Mossadegh's legacy and today's struggle for a secular democracy
When it comes to relatives and members of the family, we are often
judged based purely on which side we belong to
We are so selective with relatives that we pick sides and make sure each person sticks to their own side. Not only do we have a particular name for each relative, when we mention them, the undertone in our voices carries enough weight to define a few priorities. While to the rest of the world, an aunt may be just an aunt -- be it the sister of one’s mother, a sister of father or the wife of an uncle -- to a true Persian there are distinctions that cannot and will not be overlooked. To an Iranian each aunt has a special place and while we respect them all, they have to stay where we place them and no trespassing is allowed. Of course, the same goes for uncles, and most certainly, applies to in-laws.
... against the corrupt system that has ruled our country for the past
Ganji is letting us know that nothing is more beautiful than a man who stands for what he believes. He is trying to tell us that we should have the courage to stand up against the corrupt system that has ruled our country for the past 26 years. He is trying to tell us that we should find the courage and expose the cruel acts and atrocities committed by this regime. He is telling us that we should speak for everyone in Iran, who is suffering in the hand of the mullahs.
Political biography and the question of intellectual responsibility
Abbas Milani’s The Persian Sphinx is an ambitious and sophisticated undertaking, easily the most outstanding example in the genre of twentieth-century Iranian political biographies. Moreover, its controversial topic, engaging style, and readable prose make it appealing and accessible to an audience beyond academia. Any such work is by definition controversial and provocative, but Milani’s book requires special critical attention because of its potential impact, particularly on the non-specialist public at large. While it has much merit, The Persian Sphinx is ultimately a disappointing work because Milani has injected strong doses of political bias into his historical reconstruction.
Aramesh Dustdar's sentences are pure delight, wonder and excitement on
top of enlightenment
Aramesh Dustdar belongs to the same generation of Tehran's academic "philosophers" in the early 1970's, people like Shayegan, Davari, Enayat, Nasr and a few minor figures around them, who were thinking within the same problematic/ discourse that Ahmad Fardid (via Al-e-Ahmad) laid its parameters out: the destiny of our culture against the onslaught of Western civilization; questions of History (capital H), faith, modern science and technology and what lays ahead, our future in the world. Aramesh Dustdar was the black sheep of the gang, the antichrist among the gatekeepers of Hekmat-e-Elaahi.
Why the lack of response to the public hanging of two boys?
What I am alluding to is the response, or lack of, to the public hanging of two young men or should I say boys, Mahmoud Asgari (16) and Ayaz Mahroni (18) at time of their execution, July 19, 2005 in Mashad, Iran. This is after serving fourteen months in prison, probably enduring more than the 280 lashes for theft, disturbing public order, and consuming alcohol. They were accused of raping another boy a few years younger than them who at the time was 13-years old. And I wonder why I haven’t heard from the people of the Iranian diaspora whether in self imposed exile, refugees, intellectuals, and millionaires speaking out against the atrocity of this act. What about this case creates such a void? Is there confusion as to the veracity of its injustice? Why the silence?
Casting the affirmative vote for Iran in approving the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights in 1948
It was past midnight December 10, 1948, in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, in the Palais de Chaillot, place du Trocadero in Paris. The President 's tired voice pattered in the microphone: "52 in favor, none against, 8 abstentions. Adopted ". The rasping of his gavel was covered by a burst of applause, mainly in the public and press areas. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights had just been approved. As a the Iranian delegate looking back at that historic night I can affirm with absolute certainty that despite what cynics believed in 1948, events have vindicated the Declaration. Rights are as global as the economy and the flow of information.
London protest against homosexual executions in Iran
One hundred people protested outside the Iranian Embassy in London Thursday, 11 August 2005 -- coinciding with simultaneous US and European protests against Iran's "tyrannical, homophobic, misogynistic and fundamentalist regime." We condemn the execution of two teenage boys in Iran on charges involving homosexual acts.
Around 250 supporters gather in support of Akbar Ganji in front of the
hospital where he has been on hunger strike
Visiting Darius and Ahuramazda at Behistun Inscription was as close to
a religious experience that I have ever had
I climbed up until I was face to face with Darius, king of kings. My heart was beating evermore faster as I looked into his eyes, and saw the details of his beautifully curled beard, the earlobes and his golden crown. It was a magnificent work of art, but it was much more than that. It showed a confident king of kings, at ease and at peace in the face of a great revolt which shook his young empire. But the most exciting moment of my life was when I TOUCHED GOD.
Bloggers write an open letter "To the people of Iran" offering a new strategy to achieve democracy
Rain in the middle of summer
Now, what happens if I say that the fact that the U.S. has built 67,500
nuclear missiles from 1951 to the present makes me nervous?
The idea that Iran may possibly have a very limited number of nuclear arms in ten years makes everyone a bit jumpy, but no one questions the reasons behind the U.S. holding so much nuclear power. Again, if it were up to me, no one would have nuclear arms, but slowly I've learned to give up on some of my more idealistic views, and now I'm left with the question of why. Why is it okay for the West to hold "weapons of mass destruction" but not Iran? Are we worried that in Iran the weapons may fall into the wrong hands? That perhaps terrorists will acquire some of these nuclear weapons?
Why does the language of passion and poetry and all other things starting
with peh not have one of the world's most cherished phrases in unmistakably
Let me make a bold statement: there is no way to say "I love you" in Persian. Now let me toss in my disclaimer: at least, there's no unambiguous, Hollywood way to say it like they do in English, Spanish, and a bunch of other European languages. "Man aashegh-e toh hastam" is almost there, but it borrows Arabic for the word that counts. That disqualifies it for me. "Dooset daram" could mean anything from liking to loving in terms of emotion communicated. And incidentally, we don't really have sexy terms for "sexy" or "sex", unless you get horny when you hear "amizesh-e jensi" (gender mixing). What the hell?
Beh naameh an kas keh ensaan raa azaad afarid
For Akbar Ganji
Scratch the surface of a Radical Islamic society and you will witness
its antithesis deeply permeating its every aspect
The pan-Islamist movement opposes democracy in all its forms. The movement’s beliefs, class make-up and historic direction come together to reject popular sovereignty and the right of the people to determine their own destiny by majority vote. It is forced to locate the right of sovereignty above the heads of ordinary people, to make it the overarching authority that must resolve the movement’s internal and external contradictions. Divine rule, where all rights belong to god, is the only realm where there are no tensions and dissent. And it is only the divine that can give away this or that right on earth to the chosen people - whether the Islamists in question wear clerical or civilian apparel.
The plain truth about Akbar Ganji and my disrobing at the Berlin conference
The left's vision of Iran
What is the proper attitude within the left vis-a-vis American power? In her article, Naheed Rasa asks rhetorically, "Can we use American power to promote democracy in the region?" However, "leftist" may be a misleading term by which to designate one who poses this rhetorical question. The right label would be "neo-conservative." Remember, the neo-conservatives were a movement of leftists and democrats who, despite their progressive social agenda, were disenchanted with the left's refusal to support the use of American power to spread "America's democratic values" abroad by coercive means.
In memory of our matriarch Farangis Davar Ardalan (1912-2005)
After more than nine decades and a full life, my grandmother died peacefully yesterday in Arlington, Virginia. As her youngest granddaughter I have vivid memories of playing in her garden in Tehran in springtime and in the winter snow... the cherry blossoms that adorned the entrance to her house... those carefree days when she taught us to leave an empty bowl out in the cold to catch fresh falling snow and then drip cherry juice on top for our very own homemade snowcones! I learned that as a young girl, Farangis Davar was raised primarily by her grandfather, known as Khazaneyeh Khalvat or personal treasurer to the Qajar king.
The concept of "tarof"
The following is a play I wrote that makes a parody of the concept of "tarof." The characters are two Iranian brothers and an American prostitute. The brothers tarof with each other about who should go first, and they offer their guest tea. The prostitute picks up on the Persian culture and then refuses to be paid for her services.
Iranian authorities have raided the house of the country's best-known
dissident, Akbar Ganji
Why is the liberal/leftist discourse of the West incapable of including
Iranian voices of freedom and democracy?
Let me make this threat even more clear and even more frightening: If the Left/Liberal discourse does not address the concerns of Iranian movements for justice, democracy and freedom, it is very likely that these movements will be attracted, at least for tactical purposes, towards policies offered by Conservatives. And this does not appear to be a temporary situation. In fact, Akbar Ganji may well die one of these days, but even if he is saved, there will be others like him in the near future, and as long as our "natural allies" pay no attention to such events, we will witness the strengthening of the Conservative discourse in our midst.
Purge in Iran oil sector would rob industry from its experienced decision-makers
If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would embark on another purge and get rid of what he calls ‘mafias of power’ he will deprive the oil sector of people who, irrespective of their ethical standing have gained invaluable experience over the past two decades. This cannot be but disastrous for the Iranian oil industry. The dilemma he faces is that defenestrating an experienced, albeit corrupt management, who are the people he is going to replace them with? Where is he going to come up with a new team?
I just want you all to know that it does not matter how much better our
life is outside Iran -- some of us have pain in our heart and soul
At first both my parents were very homesick and unease in Sweden. When the Immigration Board of Sweden gave us our political asylum we where moved to a small community in the middle of Sweden. With us many other Iranian families left the refuge camp and were settled in different parts of Sweden. It was a very wise plan at first but with time more and more Iranians left the smaller towns to search for better opportunities in the cities. This has left many Iranian families quite lonely in this country. And this for sure leads young people like me to lose our Iranian identity as our Swedish identity grows stronger.
A short story
I meant to slam the door but he tripped forward and came inside you smiled the man turned and eyed me up and down it was as though he wanted to spit at me I felt on fire with the need for revenge a rush of poison ran through my every vein you slid through the curtain with your mastic and kohl, the man’s seemed clean and smart he wore a grey suit with a white shirt, when he came the next week he was the first again you fell in love with him damn, that asshole of a motorcyclist is splattering my jumper with sprays of mud and snow those nights when you were knitting the jumper you used to pull up your shoulders with joy and say ‘He’s great’ But he wasn’t cause he had a big face and long hair with strands of white recognising him in the sunset park was a real art, no one could do it other than me...
The Iranian soldier-bear of Monte Cassino
After the Battle of Monte Cassino, one of the fiercest and bloodiest conflicts of the Second World War, many accounts emerged of the bravery and heroism of the soldiers. But perhaps the strangest story of all was of an Iranian brown bear who served alongside the allied soldiers in the worst heat of the battle. Despite the incessant bombardment and constant gunfire, the bear carried vital supplies of ammunition and food to his fellow-soldiers fighting on the mountainside. Many observers who witnessed his remarkable actions doubted the reality of what they were seeing. But the story was no legend.LIFE
If you took a pair of tweezers to your brows, your mother might not hesitate
to tell you looked like a whore
You cannot find a pair of bushy eyebrows anymore. They have gone the way of virgins, that is to say, they are now the stuff of Persian fairytales. Still, I cannot seem to stop thinking about them and why they have left us. Eyebrows have enjoyed a special place in the history of our people. Iranians are apt to speak rapturously of a woman’s “cheshm-o-abroo.” In describing a beautiful woman, we do not speak of her eyes alone, but of her eyes and her eyebrows, as if they were of a piece. Their role in supporting the beauty of a woman’s face is not merely incidental. Eyebrows are in fact crucial.
Akbar Ganji and the movement for freedom and an end to religious rule
Akbar Ganji is dying in a hospital in Tehran. He is not a prophet. He is not calling for a revolution. He is not doing George Bush a favor. He is a man who speaks his mind and is willing to die for it. But he must not die. We must do everything we can to force the authorities to let him go home. This is the democratic fight of the Iranian people. This is how democracies are built, by the people for the people, not by American soldiers for Uncle Sam.
... in honor of Akbar Ganji
As a freelance journalist myself, I and a group of other concerned citizens in Portland, I have started a limited hunger strike as of Friday afternoon in the South Park Blocks in front of the Portland State University's library, as the sacred place of Book and Pen, in honor of Akbar Ganji and in solidarity with his wife and children who are going to be sitting in front of the United Nations' office in Tehran at the same time.
America should be more wary of China than the Islamic world
There was a certain bubbling excitement brewing inside me just waiting to burst. He looked at my face then looked down and with a big thumping sound made his mark on the page. The stamp was in Chinese and I guessed the translation to be "Permit to Enter People's Republic of China". I grabbed my passport and happily passed the customs officer to the other side of the gate. I was in a communist country, for the first time, and it was the most exhilarating experience.
She constantly nags, starts rumors, gossips all day and considered me
Advertisement in a London magazine : Do you look too Middle Eastern? Do people panic when you step inside a bus? Are you no longer able to carry a backpack? Did you have to throw away all your baggy clothes? Worry no more. London's most skilled plastic surgeon Dr. Shakespearian can make you look German, Australian, Scandinavian or Welsh. Our new system of total makeover is so effective that it even fools the Imam of the masque you attend every day. Come in today for a consultation and you will receive a one-week's supply of body hair removal products for free.
Magar een azadi cheest?
"Bale Farhad told me you could get me a fridge... Cheap." Ok.
We have lift off.
Have you noticed that no matter where you meet a fellow Iranian, they are always in need of a favor? I am not talking about relatives, I mean the whole Iranian community. Since I helped a friend out with my company discount on household appliances, every Persian Tom, Dick and Harry has been on the phone with me. It's like I have opened a new home appliance store. Few weeks ago a friend of a friend of a friend of my moms calls me out of the blue at my office nonetheless. This is how the conversation went. "Salam Sahar Khanoom..."
They don't want us to look out the windows through the Internet, because
maybe we will find the Truth
Somewhere there is a problem and they know it and we know it. And I think that is what they fear; the possibility that the Koran maybe does not contain solutions to all our problems, and Sharia law does not create a perfect society. And because they are afraid they don't want us to look out the windows through the Internet, because maybe we will find the Truth. And maybe we will find many different channels and many different paths to God. And when enough of us do find the Truth they will no longer be able to claim a monopoly on the Truth.
I see countless Iranians in poker rooms every day many losing $200-$1,000
My good friend Amir (obviously not his real name) started playing poker in 2002. Back then he had a nice house in Tarzana, southern California, a beautiful wife and 2 great kids. Amir had a thriving insurance and financial planning business. He had 3 office workers, drove a nice BMW and his wife bought clothes for parties (without the need for returning them the next day). Amir started playing poker once a week at the Commerce casino in LA. Once a week at nights turned into 2 nights and then almost every night. He was in effect prefering poker to his wife and kids because he could only see them at nights like most working dads.
The lady would not leave until we took one of her two pieces of bread
I found soulfulness in Iran when I went back after 13 years of being on my own. I remember one day, my mom and I were desperately looking for a bread bakery that sold Noon Sangak, my favorite bread. As we were walking up and down the street, my mom asked a strange woman who had two Sangaks in her hands where the bakery was. My mom told her that I was leaving Iran that night and really wanted to eat some. The lady told us where the bakery was but would not leave until we took one of her two pieces of bread. She said that she would not feel good eating the bread unless I had tasted it before I left.
I've known 'Razor' for a long time; maybe five years or so. I know his whole family too; his wife Conchita, and his two sons Pablo and Eduardo. He had Pablo with Conchita, but Eduardo had a different mother, who is incarcerated for something or other. This was before I came into the picture. I used to buy dope from him. He'd hang out at the corner of Marguerite and 22nd and I was a regular customer. Twice or three time a week, I'd swing by after work, still in my suit and tie, I'd pull up in front of him in my red Corvette. He'd get in and give me my 20 dollars worth.
Reformists biggest losers in presidential election
Photo essay: Calls for release of Akbar Ganji at San Francisco's U.N.
Photo essay: Attending a wedding in Kauai Island, Hawaii
Recent uprising in the Eastern part of Kurdistan might be counterproductive
if it loses peaceful character
The story of Shoan Qaderi, who was killed, hung from the back of a vehicle, and dragged in the streets of Mahabad recently is a clear example of this necrophilic culture and use of terror. What happened to Qaderi, for whatever reason, suggests that Eastern Kurdistan is under the control of extremists with a very deviant mind set. Clearly demanding any natural rights in Iran is a dangerous challenge and might be suppressed very brutally with bloodshed. It is worse than fighting with a stick against creatures infected with rabies. I am wondering how one could reason with or neutralize the behavior of such extremists except with a coordinated international force or with passivity.
Parenthood, Iranican style
It takes a while to get used to our Iranican kids. Not only do they not learn the word “Shoma”, they follow their peers in not ever saying “hello”, “good-bye”, and you might as well forget the “please” or “thank-you.” The first time my daughter brought a friend home to play, I thought the poor child was a homeless mute orphan. She walked into the house in torn blue jeans and without shoes, looked at me without a word, went straight to the fridge and ate for an hour without asking permission, leaving the refrigerator door open the entire time. Whenever I offered her something, her answers were “Aha,” for yes and “A,a,” for no. I soon learned not to expect more than one syllable in reply. Of course, all this was long before I learned it was normal child behavior in my new society.
Who will be responsible for the consequences of restricting internet
access in Iran?
The issue of filtering in Iran goes beyong children and the danger of pornography. The important matter is the harm done to many individuals, particularly researchers. Why are some news and cultural websites, as well as community sites like Orkut.com, blocked? Is filtering compatible with human rights? Filtering encompasses all individuals. It blocks the researcher as well as the casual internet surfer. This is not a fair formula.
Photo essay: Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Niger offers citizenship to Ganji
Five men appeared in court on Friday accused of homosexuality, a crime punishable by a game of Scrabble using the Chinese alphabet or death. The men aroused suspicion when they formed a human pyramid in a zoo, in protest at the execution of a bear convicted of spying for Russia. The men, who claim to be acrobats, deny the charges. Their lawyer, Shirin Polo, told the court that forming a pyramid did not constitute an act of homosexuality “by any stretch of the imagination, otherwise all Egyptians would be gay.”
Akbar Ganji has defied that claim and forced us to reflect on the glaring
disconnect between what we say we want and what we are willing to do for
I have heard different people questioning whether Ganji's death will be in vain and what his struggle will actually accomplish. Is he our Don Quixote, foolishly dedicating his existence to fighting windmills and for a cause unappreciated by the rest of us? Considering the levels of apathy and hopelessness that characterize the vast majority of Iranians both in and out of Iran, Ganji indeed seems to be an outlier, an anachronism no one can relate to--a general fighting without an army. Put bluntly, Akbar Ganji may die at any moment and it still doesn't change a thing. But his death will not be in vain.
You are absolutely not the only depressed new mom
Nadereh writes: I am hoping that you can help me. I am the mother of a newborn baby and I think there is something really wrong with me. My daughter is two weeks old, but ever since she was born I have become very different. I used to be a very happy and busy person, but now I can’t shake feelings of depression no matter what. I have lost interest in everything and everyone -- even my new daughter! I cry for no reason, I can’t even stand to look at her!
I am tired of this Persian-Arab conversation, which I am not winning
In the evening I go over to her house. After dinner we put the video on. I sit down on her new white sofa. She lies down with her head on my lap. I run my fingers through her long and soft hair as we watch the movie. Everything is nice and happy. Until, that is, we get to the scene when Shohreh Aghdashloo shouts to that anti-Christ Ben Kingsly about not wanting to live like bare-footed backward desert Arabs, or something to that effect. She jumps up, looking startled. "What the hell is that all about? Is this what you think of us Arabs?"
For Akbar Ganji
On Mehraneh Atashi's photography
Atashi appeals to the narcissism of the sportsmen and stops their senses of smell by covering herself even more by means of the camera - hiding her eyes, nose and lips while looking at them. They are not watched by a woman as they see it now, but by the whole world outside. For them she becomes the camera which connects them to their world full of men. But this won't last long because soon they will smell their own sweat, which will bring them back to the here and now.
Tormoze pishraft manam
The MKO propaganda machine
Evidence can already be seen by the MKO’s effectiveness in persuading mass news agencies to publish stories advocating that newly elected President Ahmadinejad was pictured directly involved in the 1979 hostage. A picture of a lean bearded Iranian holding a hostage was shown on the website Iranfocus.net, a "news" agency with ties to the MKO, to depict Ahmadinejad’s involvement. Although the allegations were quashed less than a week later (the man pictured was identified as Taghi Mohammadi), the public attention it was able to garner forced the Bush administration to establish a commission evaluating Ahmadinejad’s role in the hostage crisis.
Execution is an effective cure
In the summer they talk about politics because this is when they sneeze least. In Western countries such as Eastern Samoa, people tend to sneeze from July to August because they have for centuries and why break an old habit. In India, however, they cannot sneeze in the summer because monsoon rains cause floods and drown people. These were started by a king called Mon Soon III, who was Korean. He ordered the clouds to break in the summer so he could break wind in winter. When he broke wind everyone in the court laughed and was executed.
In the East Coast, I had a few real friends; here I have a lot of empty
You might wonder why I’m taking my precious time writing a piece on such a negative subject. But I really have had just about enough of this place. I arrived here 5 years ago from New York and did not realize how much the East Coast culture has penetrated my mind, mannerisms, and way of life. I remember going to the restaurant on the first day of my arriving here and being freaked out by how abnormally and artificially nice the waitress was. Well, I did not know at the time that I was in for much more fakeness coming my way.
For all bi-cultural Iranians who feel they don't really belong anywhere
Sami beckoned to the waiter to bring over an ashtray. He lit a cigarette and took a sip of his cappuccino. He looked at Nousha and said, "I am so confused Noush, azinja moondeh azoonjan roondeh ... Do you ever get the feeling that we don't belong anywhere? When my parents sent me to the West I was a child of 12 years. With my dark features and strange name I became a hermit in a strange land trying to make sense of what had happened. Looking back, I don't know how I got through it. The other day my mom told me to be careful when I cross the street. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. Parents can be such a nuisance."