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September 20, 2001

* Reza Pahlavi's warning

Having relistened to Reza Pahlavi's six interviews (KRSI,NITV, PARS, Deutsche Welle,670am California FM, Spanish TV) on September 12th 2001 I did not hear him advocate anything that could endanger Iran as a state nor its people at such a dangerous time ["There is a limit", "Historical moment"]. Reza Pahlavi did however express his profound sense of loss and sympathy for the victims of terrorism and reminded listeners that what took place in New York was an assault on Civilization by evil forces threatening the free world. He also said that among the victims at the WTC were a number of his compatriots.

The millions who fled Iran after the Khomeini revolution were all victims of terrorism, political, economic and religious persecution. Reza Pahlavi was wise enough to write a letter to President Bush in the name of all 'peace-loving Iranians' condemning the terrorist assault on the World Trade Centre in New York. He was also quick to caution any hasty conclusion as to the real suspects behind the attacks whilst reminding everyone of the dangers posed to civil liberties.

In his recent interviews he did not name the clerical regime in Tehran as the mastermind of the attacks but recalled that the radicalisation and spread of terrorism in the Middle East had its roots in the 1979 revolution and the hostage crisis that led to the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran. He also reminded listeners that there was a danger in the West to associate Iran's name with any terrorist activity as well as blaming Islam for the unprecedented attack on US soil. "We must separate the Iranian people from the repressive governments that rule them," he said. This applied to other Middle East people who do not share the extremist policies of their governments.

At the same time, Reza Pahlavi warned that fighting global terrorism required concerted and united action but after careful planning. You cannot, he warned, defend the free world with one hand, and flirt with the regimes of so-called rogue nations who have over the years supported and financed terrorist organisations in the name of economic pursuits.

At no point was it suggested that Iran should become a target for the Americans. Reza Pahlavi expressed doubt that the current leaders of Iran would realise the dangerous road they took in 1979 which brought Iran and the region to the brink of an abyss. He stated that if Khamenei and President Khatami were sincere about fighting terrorism and promoting human rights and Islamic values they could begin by ending their misguided policies and allow the Iranian people to gain their freedom and a secular democracy.

I believe that this was the core message of Reza Pahlavi which was mis-understood by a number of Iranian compatriots who blamed him for "shamelessly exploiting the tragic events in New York" to attack the Islamic Republic. A three minute interview with the late Shah's son on Spanish TV was edited and left a few listeners with the wrong impression. Whether we agree with Reza Pahlavi or not let us at least listen to what he said before jumping to erroneous conclusions to score personal points. I strongly advise the readers of iranian.com to visit his website on www.rezapahlavi.org for further information.

Since Reza Pahlavi's interviews, there have been some interesting developments in Tehran. Khatami and Khamenei sent messages of condolences to Washington and offered their support in fighting terrorism in varying degrees. Overnight the familiar "Death to America" slogans chanted at Friday Prayers have stopped and are frowned upon. More interesting is the widespread sympathy expressed by Iranian youths in Tehran and Shiraz holding candle-light vigils. God Bless America! God Bless Iran! What a beautiful development.

The image of our beloved Iran is changing gradually thanks to the people after 22 years of radicalism and terror. Time will tell if the current leaders of Iran will understand that the future of Islam and Iran depends on their willingness to respect the people's wish for a secular democratic regime and basic human rights.

Cyrus Kadivar

* Prevent the next tragedy

Dear Afsaneh,

This is regarding "Wrong, regardless":

I sympathize with your dilemma. I too have been feeling the confusion that you experience. I, however, came to a different conclusion.

As the expression goes "we are neither the head of the onion, nor its tail" so as you pointed out our "explanation" is not justification yet something inside feels as such. I think what we are doing is acting as a "mirror". I feel this is our moral obligation to reflect the reality as we see it. It is not trying to justify, it is merely trying to tell our fellow American friends that they share a lot of responsibility for the "ugly" world that we live in. And despite what they say in TV history didn't start 9/11/2001, or Nov 4, 1978.

I think our underlying goal or reason is to try to prevent the next tragedy. I believe the reason we feel this "guilt" is that we have not had a history of democracy in our culture, such that we can disagree on things and not feel guilty about it. We are accustom to say "the right thing" that makes other feel good, rather than what we believe. I believe our dilemma is more with ourselves than the guilt feeling.

Just imagine, if we could have "explain" the injustice of the Shah we could have avoided the Hostage Crisis. If we could have explained the hostage crisis, and the support of Americans for Saddam Hussein we might have been able to avert the Gulf war. If we could have explain the Gulf war, then may be we could have avoided the 9/11/2001 crisis. And now if we can explain the current crisis we may be able to avoid the next round of violence. I don't believe we should stop explaining, on the contrary, be more proactive on it.

But, unfortunately, lot of people mistake the message with the messenger. Bottom line is that every one needs to understand that others would "do unto" us as we would "do unto" them. People did crucified Christ for saying things like that!

I also has an issue with this

This pertains to much of what is happening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Every time a Palestinian suicide bomber kills a group of Israelis, I hope against all odds that some voice from among Palestinians, especially those Palestinians living in the relative safety and comfort of Europe and America, would say loudly and with no prevarication, that despite everything Israel has done and continues to do to Palestinians, it is wrong to commit this act, instead of trying to "explain" how it is part of a cycle of violence, etc. At most we may hear: it is wrong, but. . . .

Yet every time that we say "but", every time we choose to "explain", we become implicated in regenerating a political culture and an ethical outlook that becomes part of the state of being in the world that allows hostage-taking and suicide bombing. It allows the September 11th tragedy.

I think the message that people who say the "but..." is not justifying the action. Or at least that is not what I hear in their explanation. It is merely saying something to the effect that "your actions has created this reaction, if you continue your actions it would get worst". Like a smoker that goes to a doctor, and his first thing he would say is that "stop smoking or you die".

What "allows September 11" is a injustice in the world, not our pointing out that injustice. May be by pointing it out, we can change the world for better.

Daryoush Mehrtash

* Grey may save us

In regard to this essay, which said (I am simplifying) "one must not explain away what cannot be justified" -- hostage-taking, suicide bombings, and the like -- there is an obvious rightness to the basic sentiment, but I would suggest that the writer was also failing to recognize that in some situations "context is everything". ["Wrong, regardless"]

Let me explain. We are rarely called upon to take sides in a dispute. Only in a court of law, where we must appear "for the prosecution" or "for the defense". The rest of the time we usually are imposing the necessity to make this choice on ourselves.

As adults, we should take responsibility for the seeking of truth wherever it lies, even if it lies in more than one place. Greys may be less comfortable than monochrome black or white, but may be closer to reality.

When I talk with Americans who understand little of Iranian culture and history, I may emphasize all the reasons why hostage-taking occurred (even though a friend of mine was among the hostages). When I am talking to Iranians, I often have tried to disabuse them of the notion that the CIA is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world, or that all Americans are morally loose, or that the West is interested only in subjugation and exploitation.

This is a matter of balancing what is unbalanced, not advocating for a cause, in either case. A mature person also does not only criticize. Besides "speaking truth to power", one should "speak power to truth" as well -- that is, find things to say that will encourage and stimulate and nurture whatever shaky hope needs your help. It is in this context that one might say to the Palestinian -- "There IS a reservoir of compassion within the U.S. society, if it can be tapped effectively -- bombing is not the only answer."

One might say to the American patriot "There ARE human beings in Afghanistan (or Russia, or Iran), who want the same things out of life as you do, if bridges can be built that can bypass -- or teach -- our governments."

Professor Najmabadi wishes to avoid complicity by "explaining", which is understandable, but meteorologists need not take responsibility for hurricanes simply because they explain that what causes them. Indeed, then they can be predicted and their worst effects avoided.

Our president should not be thought "weak" or not up to the job if he tries to expand the understanding of the people in his care (as Bush did this week at the Islamic Center in Washington).

When "black" and "white" are on a collision course, "greys" may be all that will save us.

Alexander Patico

* Should be involved in debates

Afsaneh Najmabadi's point that we should avoid "explaining" the events for they are wrong regardless, cannot be disputed ["Wrong, regardless"]. She is right, in that as individuals we should not provide explanations and make it easier for the politicians and general public to implicate us. After all not every Moslem and not every Middle Easterner and certainly no Iranian has played a role in the events of September 11 and they are not obliged to explain them regardless of how others might make them feel and/or expect from them.

However, I wonder if Afsaneh is suggesting the same strategy for experts? I think, political and social and cultural experts, Iranian experts included, should be involved in debates about events of the last few days and should offer their professional advice to politicians and authorities. Such expertise is needed now more than ever before in the affairs of our own country, the United States. To do otherwise, is to internalize the wrong assumption of those few who wish to make us feel as outsiders to this society.

Poopak Taati, Ph.D.
Sociologist, Washington DC

* What nation on Earth... ?

Dear Roozbeh Shirazi, ["Ask why"]

You are not wrong: you have no obligation to keep silent about the US policies you think might have precipitated the attack, to which almost all Americans are completely oblivious, but a duty to disclose it. I logged on to the Iranian, and your article, so that I could understand what the Arabian grievances against us were.

But I must say I was surprised to find the only grievance you happened to mention was our involvement in a coup that occurred almost fifty years ago. I understand that it was not the intention of your article to offer a list of grievances, and that your mention of this one was merely off-hand -- not central to the point of your article. And I have no doubt there are others. But I was there just looking for clues of what some of them might be. And I find it surprising enough that this coup would be mentioned even in an off-hand way as a serious grievance that many Arabs would hold against us.

I myself had never heard of this coup, and I'm certain that hardly anyone in the United States of non-Iranian abstraction has. Forgive our ignorance. But it occurred to me that your words of advice might well be spoken to any Iranian who holds this particular grievance (and perhaps others) as a grudge against the US. If it is reasonable for us to try to understand what grievances lay behind the horrific attack on innocents in New York and Washington, and in the skies, is it not reasonable for the nation of Iran to try to understand the motives behind the coup, and, without excusing it, perhaps put it to rest after a half a century? Is an aggrieved nation completely absolved of this responsibility to try to understand?

I do not pretend to know what the implications of this coup were. I feel certain you could surprise me with an account of the far-reaching consequences of our actions there. Nor do I pretend to know the motives that lay behind the US policy leading to this coup. I for one have a strong distaste for any meddling our government does in another country's affairs for precisely this reason, and hold the opinion that we continue to do far too much of it. Still, I am certain that however misguided and offensive our intervention may have been, it was not motivated by any persistent ill will on the part of the US toward the nation of Iran. And I am confident that any American would ask for forgiveness for whatever nefarious consequences our foreign policy might have brought about for the people of Iran, if they only knew what they were.

The United States is not perfect, particularly with regard to our foreign policy. But I wish that you, and all other of our fair-minded critics, would ask yourself this question, as I recently have: What nation on Earth would you prefer wield the power that comes with the position the US holds in the world today? What nation would wield that sword with greater morality? Indeed, what empire in history has not fallen from its own arrogance?

I cannot help believing that the greatest obstacle that prevents the US from counting Iran, and the rest of the Islamic world, among our allies is the unfounded hatred they feel for us, notwithstanding our flawed foreign policy.

Forgive me for talking to you as though you were all of Iran, or Islam. But if this message affects you at all, it will be meaningful to me.


Scott Mahrle

* Events are related

Dear Dr. Najmabadi, ["Wrong, regardless"]

Israel has been for years trying to disconnect "terrorism" from what it does. She is now gleeful that the US is suffering. Yet, the same Israel wastes no time connecting and SICKENINGLY justifying its own crimes against humanity in the name of preventing another Holocaust.

Please help me understand how we can make the American people understand, as Isabel Alende said in her book (and movie), the House of Spirits, that "events are related."

Thank you for your article. You may want to read my "I am tired" to get more context about my perspective.

Thanks again.

Moji Agha

* Context to hate

These days we hear many words of wisdom about compassionately seeking to uncover the root cause of the violent terrorist attacks and why America is so hated. Since the perpetrators of the attacks on the USA did not bother to declare a thought provoking cause or demand in the tradition of reasonable terrorists we must do a lot of responsible soul searching to discover where we failed to recognize the pain and depravity that "drove" a bunch of people to commit such a heinous crime.

After all, when someone commits a horrible act, there must be a reason, and invariably the greater responsibility lies with us, all of humanity, in our failure to understand their anger, to reach out, show compassion and offer relief. With all that's been done, we could at least turn the other cheek. Nowadays, the world has more healthy and able-bodied people than it has ever had before, thanks mostly to the vaccines created in the west (though surely by the grace and guidance of god) to reduce infant mortality around the world.

However to this day the vast majority of mankind throughout the world suffers from deep poverty and deprivation. That is because those who created the vaccines failed to provide all the healthy babies with proper guidance and a healthy trust fund like they have in all oil rich Arab countries. All this neglect, injustice and insensitivity provides the context for misguided individuals to hate us and want to hurt us.

Of course there was much misery, injustice and poverty before the west became so insensitive and arrogant. In the ancient times innocent law-abiding people would be eaten alive by lions and crocodiles. Even then we, unjustly, failed to prevent such horrible carnage and mistakenly sided with the carnivorous animals who, to be fair and honest, were underfed, uneducated and deprived.

Worse yet, the few times that we tried to intervene we sadly caused unforgivable collateral damage to some innocent breast-feeding baby lions, unhatched crocodiles and many plants and flowers. In the end, we have failed to create a condition where all living things can understand, love and help each other ...

Excuse my digression. I just wanted to provide some background and worldview for those of us out there still pondering why the world is such an unjust place and what we can do about it. Is that enough liberal guilt for one sitting?

Omid Parsi
New York

* No war


Truly yours,

Bagher R. Harand
Scarsdale, New York

* Did you learn from the holocaust?

Dear David, ["Never again"]

Thank you for advocating love. Happy New Year.

You say: "[We should] strike hard against a band of criminals who pervert the name of God in seeking rationalization for their crimes."

By stating the above, are you advocating also striking hard at Ariel Sharon and his gang? If you are, then "God" bless you for your even-handedness, your innate sense of justice. If not, are you taking seriously the SPIRIT of "never again" -- did humanity, did you learn any lesson from the holocaust?

Please read Finklestein's book The Holocaust Industry -- and also, read Noam Chomsky (both are Jews, so please do not accuse me of being anti-semitic, just because I am "Middle-Eastern-looking" -- I am criticizing Israel not Jews). Please own your shadow.


Moji Agha

* Lifting sanctions

I think this is a good time for the Iranian community to arrange for communication with the Congress to ask again to lift the sanctions against the people of Iran. People have shown their desire for democracy and peace.

Despite all the sanctions and the support of the US for Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war that lead to the killing of 4 million and crippling 60 million people, our people once again have shown that we are all human beings and we have forgiven what the US foreign policy has done to us.

I like to ask our people to arrange for writing a formal request to the Congress to lift the sanctions rather than waiting for another 5 years...


* Closer bond

Nice site. I am an American who resides in California. I have been fortunate to work with many Persians in my profession and am totally facinated with the rich history of Iran and your overall beautiful culture.

I hope that someday soon both the American people, not the government, and the Iranian people can create a closer bond.

Chertori and Kali mam noon!

David L. Wrightsman

* Knowledge path to peace

I am an American that appreciates the diverse cultures in this country. I know that when something terrible such as this happens some Americans take it personally and lash out at the unknown. This is a country that is privelaged of having the knowledge through our diversity, WE HAVE to use this knowledge through these times. I encourage you to stand up and teach your friends of your culture.

I am 32 and I grew up in the deep south which, then,was prdominately white and african-american. Through the history between US and Iran from the eighties to today, at the age of 17, I would have loved to have known someone, like yourself, that is as compassionate about your culture as you are to tell me about it.

Remember that knowledge is a path to peace.

Pam Ball

* Zoroastrian kings not any better

Dear HamMihan Irani, ["EVERYTHING to do with Islam"]

I am not a religious person and definitely not a scholar on Islam and I will leave it to 1.5 billion Moslems to defend their religion and possibly their lives from your threats. However as a matter of curiosity , when a female SHAHEED goes to heaven whom do you think she should sleep with? A hourie or a "pearly boy" as you put it?

Are you a homosexual person and advocating otherwise or a male chauvinistic pig who never thought SHAHEED could be a female too? And don't you give Koran the credit for giving equal opportunity to both sexes at least in this regard? And how did the great Zoroastrian kings and Mo'beds treat peoples of different faiths especially Christians when they were in charge?

If you don't know , please read the history especially a book translated by Said Nafisi many years ago about the immense sufferings of Christians at the hands of Zoroastrians .(Unfortunately I do not have access to the book now to give you the reference).

I am not trying to defend Islam. I am trying to say to you ,probably a Zoroastrian zealot or other religionist , please leave us alone.Enough is enough. Instead of filling the bookstores with truth about Islam , please fill them with truth about teaching hatered by religions and the atrocities commited by all organized religions during the entire human history.


* Embrace Zartosht

I am an Iranian who is sick of Islam even if it was not associated with terrorism. We should have kicked out the Arabs and their backward religion out of Iran just like the Spanish did.

I believe that it is a possibility, that within the next few decades, we can rid Iran of Islam and embrace our true religion of ZARTOSHT. I believe this can be done through aggressively informing our public of it's true heritage.

I am asking you to publish some articles and information on the religion of Zartosht.

Sincerely Yours,


* Scholar's ink

I just returned from overseas, part of it was being stuck in the United States for a week. Before I left on my trip 3 weeks ago I wrote down a quote that I had found on the internet, which I found on my desk today. I don't remember where the quote comes from: "The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyr."

Emma Greenhalgh

* Father: Mehrzad Mostashari

My name is Phil Mostashari, and I am writing because I am seeking help in trying to find possible relatives of my deceased father, Mehrzad Mostashari of the Imperial Iranian Air Force.

My father's last job was Deputy Commander Logistics in Vahdati Air Force Base. Sadly, in 1982, when he was in a C-130 as a Passenger comming from Dezful (Vahdati) to Tehran, The C-130 Crashed near Tehran, and everybody in the C-130 lost their lives.

In Iran my father was married to a woman named Shazee, and they had 2 children, 2 females-one named Negin I believe. A couple of years after my father's death, his wife Shazee married again and because of this marriage she discontinued her links to Iranian Air Force Personel and all lost contact with her.

My father met my mother, Vanessa Mena, at the Officers Club when he was training in my city of San Antonio,Texas USA. Even though my parents fell in love and wanted to wed, as you may know the Iranian Military forbade officers marriage to foreigners, so my father had to leave without my mother and went back to Iran.

My mother said that my father was very sad because I was his first born son, and that I could not be with him and meet my persian family. My mother also mentioned that my father had brothers, some of whom may have moved to the USA and Australia, and my mother believes my grandmother in Iran may still be alive also, living in northern tehran, so I am desperately searching for any of my father's family.

I would be eternally grateful for any help anyone might provide me. I thank you so much for your help, and I look forward to hearing responses and any suggestions to further my search. Please email me with any information, questions, suggestions or anything you think might help me to this address: philmostashari@yahoo.com

And I also guarantee confidentiality.

Best Regards,

Phil Mostashari

Comment for The Iranian letters section


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