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September 19, 2001

* Terrorism not Nazi Germany

Mr. Parsi,

In response to your letter "Nazi threat ring a bell?", I feel that in your rush to discredit the letter "Fucking for virginity" (and making several personal attacks that I choose to ignore) you have missed the point of the letter. I apologise for the unfortunate title of the letter, I had absolutely no control over it (someone in Iranian.com obviously chose "eye-catching" over "informative" when titling my letter). I don't want a slanging match, Mr. Parsi, but your response was extremely misleading and I feel I should highlight this.

You have chosen several minor points to take issue with, points that seem to border on the irrelevant with respect to the general gist of the letter. I understand that in order to draw attention from the other arguments (which you cannot answer) you are forced to look to the periphery and beyond (i.e. childish personal attacks) in order to undermine the entire letter. For example, you take issue with the comparison to the USS Vincennes incident, you write:

"It was not, however, a much celebrated massive, bloody, and deliberate attack against humanity and modern civilization."

I do seem to remember the navy officers in charge of the USS Vincennes coming home to a hero,s welcome, I recall much flag waving at their return ceremony. But that's not the point, you're trying too hard to discredit the comparison - do you feel the WTC disaster has been "much celebrated"?

We all know that it hasn't been - quite the opposite. I should also raise the point that the much coined phrase "attack against humanity and modern civilisation" can easily be applied to many recent world events, let's not think that "humanity" or "civilisation" exist only in the US. Israeli state assassinations are, as much attacks on "humanity and civilisation" as the terrorist attack on the WTC -- THAT'S the point you missed.

The next point you raise is even more extraordinary, as it doesn't address anything I said or even hinted at;

"And as for the Arab/Israeli conflict, you should remember that the Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas are NOT fighting for a Palestinian state. They are fighting for their dream caricature world where they can eliminate all the 'infidels' and rule the entire world as the Taliban do to Afghanistan."

I'm not aware of saying any words of support in favour of the Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or Hamas. In fact I think I made clear what I thought of any act of terrorism, perhaps you should reread the bit where I expressed sympathy for young Israeli soldiers.

Again, you're trying to reply to things I haven't said in order to undermine the letter as a whole. I was simply raising the point that there's a whole load of suffering out there which we don't acknowledge and used the example of Palestinian suffering to illustrate. Perhaps my letter wasn't obvious enough.

You asked, "Does Nazi threat ring a bell?"

The Nazi threat was a completely different issue, we're talking about a clear enemy who has already invaded several countries and seems to have expansion on the mind. Are you seriously comparing international terrorism with Nazi Germany?!

My friend, you're mistaken if you think unrestrained action by the US will solve the problems we're facing. This is not an enemy that can surrender like Nazi Germany when it's capital is invaded >>> FULL TEXT

Ehsan Ghorani

* Do unto others...

Dear David,

This is regarding your posting, "Never again"

You said ... "Never again do I want to hear that we Americans need to 'understand' the root causes of terrorism." Let me tell it to you in a different way, may be it make sense to you: "What you do unto others, will be done unto you." That goes for love, peace, bombs, hate...

When we bombed Belgrade, Baghdad, Basra, etc., we told the rest of the world that it is okay to bomb cities, the famous "collateral damage" that later McViegh also used for the Oklahoma bombing justification. You and I didn't object to the fact that our tax dollars were paying for the killing of civilians, and destruction of the countries infrastructure.

What we saw on 9/11/2001 was our own "lessons" played back to us. Unfortunately, they seem to have learned our lesson all too well. If we raise the level of violence (the next "lesson") one more notch, the other side has to do the same, and that is "balance of life".

Your comment,

"I say openly to the Taliban, we are a good and decent people by nature. You give us Bin Laden's head in a bag, and Kabul shall stand, resist and you and your whole capital can join him in hell. That's it. And if Kabul shall burn, then Tripoli, Damascus and Tehran shall draw their lessons. They are great and ancient cities, and their people are not starving as in Kabul.

"Having something to lose can make one suspiciously rational. They must understand that we are not afraid of making them suffer. It is not our choice, but theirs. But if they continue to give refuge, provide false passports, send weapons in diplomatic pouches and we continue to bury our dead... then they write their own epitaph."

I think you need to be reminded that the innocent people of Kabul who live under the Taliban dictatorship, are less guilty than residents of NY (who live in a democracy) for the action of their government. No action against them can have any justification, as the action of the terrorist were not justified.

To whomever was behind this crime I say targeting civilians for the grievances one may have toward foreign policy of a US is plain wrong.

And to you I say, the "lessons" that you would like to teach to people who live in Tehran, Damascus, Tripoli are being learned by victims of your previous "lessons". We should not be surprised when they learn the lessons and repeat it for us. When you learn a foreign language it is always "listen and repeat".

Ask yourself one other question, Do you feel more rational now after the tragedy of last week? Why do you expect others to be rational when faced with "loss"?

You said,

"Having something to lose can make one suspiciously rational. They must understand that we are not afraid of making them suffer."

We have a lot more to lose than any one else in the world. And I don't think they are afraid to make us suffer.

And you are wrong when you say: "It is not our choice, but theirs."

The choice is all ours. It would be a sad day if bunch of rag tag terrorist can limit or dictate our choices. If you really feel that it is their choice, then we really need to understand the "root cause of terrorism" to see how and why we lost our choices.

Best wishes,

Daryoush Mehrtash

* Ounce of thoughtful prevention

Dear Omid, ["Annihiliating those who want to annihiliate us"]

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my thoughts. You are right about the differences between the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. But I would like to draw your attention to their similarities.

1- Terrorists are like drug runners in so far as they are a clandestine network of operatives that slip across borders. Thus declaring war on them can not be taken literally but symbolically. Our dismal record in fighting one group must cue us to the difficulties in fighting the other.

2- We do not have the intractable problem of demand in the case of terrorism. But we have other problems that are just as intractable. Instead of demand we have the hatred of the United Sates in the Middle East. I maintain that these two problems are similar as root causes. In both cases we must think and listen and plan rather than act impetuously.

3- I share your hatred of terrorism and hope that civilization can overcome the barbarity of attacking innocent non-combatants that is the essence of terrorism. But I am afraid this victory must be achieve with an ounce of thoughtful prevention rather than a pound of violent remedies. I will expand on this in my next piece for iranian.com.

Once again, thanks for writing.


Ahmad Sadri

* True and wise

Dear Mr. Khorsandi,

I read your poem "Ahoo, jangal, jaadeh" in iranian.com. It is so beautiful, poetic, cinematic, and at the same time so true and wise. It brought tears into my eyes.

YOU are a genius.

Mahvash Shahegh

* Hit the nail

Thank you for your eloquent article ["Wrong, regardless"]. You hit the nail in the head. I, for one, would love to see more informed and sensible discourse from analytically minded and highly educated people in Iranian.com. It is a forum of great potential for this purpose.

Omid Parsi
New York

* Truth hurts

You are wrong 100% about the Vincennes incident. ["Vincennes: Thorough investigation"]

In fact the US Navy and the US Government never fully or fairly investigated the Vincennes "incident". It was covered up and lied about. It took 4 years before a RETIRED Admiral Crowe finally admitted that the VIncennes was NOT in international waters, as both the Pentagon and the State Department had been claiming. THey lied about that fact (among many others) because the truth was that the US was engaged in an illegal war against Iran on behalf of Saddam Hussein, who the US later said was "worse than Hitler".

Captain Rogers of the Vincennes had been specifically warned that his target may be a commercial airliner, and he even raised his hands to acknowledge the warnings, but fired the missiles anyway. The Navy's white-wash investigation conducted by Admiral Fogarty went as far as to ERASE an Iranian island off of the map they presented to the public. Crowe only confessed after a NEWSWEEK/NIGHTLINE joint investigation disclosed that the Vincennes was the aggressor and was not "defending itself" from Iranians attacks, as the Pentagon and State Department had claimed.

Secondly, the "reparations" you refer to were made explicity without accepting liability. To this day, the official US position is that the downing of the Iran Air 655 was justified, and it was Iran's fault, because the Vincennes had come under attack in international waters by Iranian patrol boats so the Captain of the Vincennes was forced to react while he was in a tight spot. Of course, the fact that he had illegally placed himself in that tight spot was classified. No one has been held accountable for that terrorist act, or the subsequent cover-up, just as no one has been held accountable for the fact that the US was providing Saddam with weapons and targetting intelligence as he attacked Iranian civilians. Talk about "state-sponsored support for terrorism"!!

And the fact is that whether YOU like the Hezbollah or Hamas or not, the Palestinians like them and support them, and its their country. Certainly, life under the Hezbollah or Hamas in can't be any worse than life under the jackboot of occupying Israeli racist thugs, who have been known to engage in the worst forms of human rights abuses in modern history, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, assasinations of political opponents, forced deportations, "bone breaking", shelling UN compounds, legalized torture, etc. etc. etc.

So get your facts straight before you get so indignant. The truth hurts. All this talk about a US "war on terrorism" is yet more of the same hypocritical foreign policy as before. If you'd like more information about the FACTS of the Vincennes incident, I suggest you read the July 13, 1992 Newsweek article called "Sea of Lies", for a start: //www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/4654/

J Mohammadi

* People are so ignorant

I am an Arab-American who lives in NY state. My beautiful husband is Iranian. I don't find humour in what happened in my country. And please do not assume that Iranians are all so much more superior than Arabs that they had no involvement in this horrible ordeal. On that note, I wear my Allah pendant everyday with pride. This was not the work of Allah or any Muslim who truly believes in Islam. We are a religion of peace.

I heard many comments at my place of employment. The most popular appeared to be to "kill all the desert people". Most people are so ignorant that they do not understand any difference between Iranians, Libyans, and Siekhs. This is most unfortunate. I worry for my family as they have darker skin and look typically Middle Eastern.

I am lucky in the sense that no one would think me as anything but Scandanavian... some genetic foray made me a blond haired, green eyed, fair skined Muslim. But I do not hide behind my mask. I do understand why these acts were committed. I know what the repercussions will be. It is always innocent people that we sacrifice. And for what price? To choose the lesser of two evils...

Jeni Armanedez-Ziarati

* No different

I'm curious as to where iranian.com is located (I'm not looking for your address, just country). I am white, American born of Irish decent, living in LA, and friend to many Iranians, Pakistanis, etc. I work and socialize with these people on a daily basis and find them to be no different than anyone else I know. I have deep sympathy for them and their families and friends who still reside in their country of origin.

I keep asking "Why can't we all just get along?" I find this whole situation very frustrating.

Peace to you/us all,

Robert Joy

* So touched

Dear Mr Makhmalbaf:

I have just spent the last two hours reading your "Limbs of no body" and also sending it to friends. It is ironical to be reading this now, when so many thousands of the people you describe are fleeing their homes. Ever so powerless...

I am singer songwriter of contemporary Bengali music, living in London for three years now, but my home is in Calcutta. I have seen some of your films and loved "Gabbeh" (I have a copy) and the "Noon o Goldoon" ("Moment of Innocence" -- I wish I had a copy) and "The Cyclist" I only know about from Kiarostami's "Close Up".

I wonder what you are thinking now about last week's events and the history that awaits us all, particularly Afghanistan. To think that only three months ago you wrote this piece -- it must make you feel strange. I wonder why you did not write more about the US' direct role in the Talibanisation of the country, about the import of men like Bin Laden. Surely in their eyes we cannot see any hunger for bread. You have repeatedly asked why the US does not come to Afghanistan? Now it is coming (it has come before too, hasn't it?), not as a giving friend or healer of course.

I am so touched by the pain of "Limbs of no body" that it has propelled to write this letter, just as I have been touched by the beauty of your art in the past.

I wish you all the best for the future,

(Ms) Moushumi Bhowmik

* Knowing more about Afghanistan

Dear Mr. Makhmalbaf, ["Limbs of no body"]

I am an Indian living in Hungary and have been rather interested in knowing more about Afghanistan (I must confess ever since September 11th.!). Your article gave me an insight into this issue which is much more comprehensive than any of the Western or for that matter Indian newspapers or magazines.

Thanks a lot for taking time out to write it and believe me -- you have NOT given statistics ONLY in this article but also a different perspective to me as an interested observer of that region.

Thank you very much once again and all the best for all the subsequent films you would make on all those subjects you found littered on the roads of Kandhar, Kabul and Peshawar.

Best regards,

Sanjay Gupta

* Services to USA

Will you offer your services to the USA anytime soon? There has been a call for those who speak your language. I hope you will call someone and offer your assistance and knowledge to our country straightaway.

Kauila Polu

* Disinformation

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks we have been bombarded with disinformation from all corners. One source tells you that 400 workers of a particular WTC company did not show up to work on September 11. Very intriguing!

But then what is the name of that company? On which floor of which of the two towers was their office? The source is mysteriously quiet about the details, and all of us are thrilled to know that 400 people -- and their families -- are guarding a secret the whole world wants to know. And then there is disinformation from the FBI.

The FBI has repeatedly told us that Osama Bin Laden (OBL) is the prime suspect in this case, but they don't give any proof to support their claim. The so-called independent US TV media is busy in its own acrobatics. They are telling the American public that the Taliban Government is not agreeing to hand over OBL to the US. They never truthfully say that the Afghani Government has a principle stand: the Taliban are asking for evidence.

What kind of evidence the Taliban want to see? Well, any logical person, any court of justice would like to see a hard evidence directly implicating the accused with the crime: written instructions, a recorded phone call, or a bunch of witnesses testifying that OBL himself ordered people to carry out the terrorist attacks.

Do you think such an irrefutable proof exists? Do you believe there is anything even close to an irrefutable proof in this case? I can hear the million-dollar secret being whispered in my ear: there is no hard proof. The proof immolated itself with the terrorists.

The world has come to know that these terrorists have a very loose association with OBL's organization. These people hate the West and wish to destroy the US. Different terrorist groups devise their own strategies and carry out their own operations; OBL just smiles on seeing the job done well. You want to punish someone for smiling? No! But OBL needs to be unplugged, right away, for two very good reasons.

1. In a number of interviews OBL has urged his followers to kill the Americans. Kill any American you find, period. No discrimination between soldiers and civilians. Allegedly, there is a videotape that shows him reading a religious decree of that nature. That is the proof! Not of his direct implication in the September 11 attacks, but proof of a much bigger crime against humanity: of shaping the terrorist mind. Regrettably, the Western media has been giving a lot of publicity to OBL making him a "celebrity."

A "famous" person harboring such hatred against a country will undeniably draw uninformed bigots towards himself. Because of his beliefs and because of the extensive media coverage given to him, OBL has gradually become the God of hatred. He needs to be immediately removed so that the cult of hatred could be deprived of its leadership.

2. Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were not an attack on the US, they were an assault on humanity: people hailing from 60 different countries, representing all major religions, were killed in those attacks. Those terrorist attacks and the ensuing media coverage have brought OBL and his message of hatred out in the limelight. If OBL is not arraigned this time, the inaction of the peace-loving people of the world will convey a negative message to the terrorists.

Terrorists' belief in the political fragmentation of the world will become firm assuring them they can get away with anything; they would think that people will condone their most heinous crimes just because people have their own political differences. Promptly removing OBL will send a powerful message to the terrorists: civilized world takes attacks on civilians very seriously. We may have our political differences but against terrorism we are all united.

Peace-loving people of this world must realize that we have a chance to transform the recent tragedy into the dawn of an era that separates politics from the violence. People adhering to different ideologies and political beliefs must unite together in fighting terrorism.

They could very well be saving their own lives--lives that otherwise would be ridden by fears of getting killed in an attack by terrorists fighting for a "holy" cause which the victims did not know anything about.


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