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Shahin & Sepehr

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

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    May 7, 1999

    This is who we are

In response to your letter (Babak Banaei), I must say that many Iranians or Iranian-Americans -- or as you may call us "gharbzadeh" and "zede Iran" -- enjoy reading these articles. I have lived here in the U.S. for more than a decade and can relate to most of the articles, stories, and other materials published here. If you are looking to read about Shi'i Muslims or about the Islamic Republic government of Iran, there are plenty of other news sources, magazines and web-sites you can access.

The news I read everyday through The Iranian Times is really all that interests me about what is going on in Iran. Reading about daily religious activities and holy beliefs does not really interest me, nor does it fit in my life. Have you thought that perhaps there are only a few people interested in reading the types of articles you are expecting to see here and even fewer people interested in writing such articles about Islam and traditional Islamic values?

The bias you are complaining about comes more from lack of interest, rather than censorship. Another element which you have completely overlooked is that not all Iranians are Muslims. Many people left Iran because they were not able to speak their minds and share their real life experiences along with their creative works with their hamvatans.

Why don't you enlighten us all by writing an article about what all Iranian expatriates should read and know about?

We always complain about why things aren't done the way we want them rather than doing things ourselves. Your belittling and defamatory comments towards other people's work is definitely not the best and most constructive approach. If you feel that what is presented in these articles is about Iranian expatriate culture and not Iranian culture, your point is well taken, but your derogatory remarks are completely unnecessary.

I admit that I do not know of any censored material that were not published here, nor do I know any of the authors personally, but it gives me much pleasure and fruition to read about the views, creative thoughts and activities that my fellow countrymen exercise here in the U.S. and other places abroad.

Many people would agree that Islamic views are not all that you should see in Iranian culture. As much influence that Islam had in Iranian culture, I am surprised that you expect not too see any influence exerted on our culture by living in the U.S. This is who we are and the way we live here in the U.S. and this is reality. "Iran" and being "Irani" are not some small static definitions in a box. Culture is what we make of it. Culture is not a predetermined entity.

Pedram Aleshi

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