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September 24, 2001

* If they have the will

Although, I am writing in response to the recent articles by Ahmad Sadri, my questions are really for all Middle Easterners willing and capable of self-reflective reasoning.

Dear Mr. Sadri

Your perception of the current world situation is both satisfyingly acute and hauntingly disappointing. ["World War III?", "A tall order"]

When you ask "Why did this happen?", why not mention the Middle Eastern leadership, or lack thereof? What about the remote causes that have led so many millions of us to accept leaders that are corrupt, greedy, repressive, autocratic or megalomaniacal? Why not open the legs of the compass a little wider and include some of these concentric circles?

Why is it that in the face of adversity, millions of Iran's best and brightest simply take their money and run? Leaving the country's fate in the hands of a group of thieving, perverts, hiding behind the sanctity of the abba? Was the U.S. government responsible for our lack of political will?

We all know that the U.S. regularly manipulates circumstances in their own favor, but have they systematically intervened in every country to make certain that only the worst possible persons could have power? Do they create the circumstances or take advantage of them? Do they create corrupt leaders or simply make use of them?

Is there not some responsibility on the part of the citizens of the Middle East for their own circumstances and the quality of their leadership? Is there perhaps something in our cultures and history that makes us constitutionally incapable of bringing about our own democracies? Does life begin and end with the actions of the U.S.?

Those of us with broader knowledge of the world outside the U.S., are dismayed at the paucity of real information the average American has about the other people on this earth. We get livid (myself included) when we hear ignorant comments about ragheads or gooks or whomever. So why no indignation about the brainwashing of uneducated, simple folk with brutal rhetoric about the "Great Satan". When the putrid leadership of most Islamic countries foments hatred against the U.S. in order to divert attention from their own inadequacies, who among us is there to correct these distortions?

There is more than enough blame to go around. In fact, we could cover the earth with a blanket of blame one mile deep and still have some left over. But honestly, as all powerful and all mighty as the U.S. may be, they are not the only ones responsible for the environment that bred these terrorists... or maybe they are... ultimately.

If the world's best and brightest had nowhere to flee, maybe they would have been forced to stay and work for change at home.

As the world's most inclusive state, the U.S. has benefited enormously from the profound creativity that diversity engenders. How ironic that this great blessing may also be a contributing factor to its own demise... one of those remote causal links to which your imagined future historians will allude.

If the U.S. provides nothing else to the rest of the world, surely it provides an example of what people can do for themselves, if they have the will.

Respectfully yours,

Yasmine Rafii
One deeply sad and troubled citizen of the world.

* Seize the moment

Dr. Hamid Zangeneh is right on target suggesting that Iran should not miss the opportunity to maximize its national interests. ["Historical moment"]

The Iranian leadership should have the foresight to recognize that this is not the time for politics as usual. Meaningless sloganeering and useless posturing in the past have done little to help Iranians in the global arena and, for that matter, in their own country. Iran needs to speak with one voice in unconditionally condemning terrorist acts against innocent people and lend its unequivocal support to international efforts to fight terrorism.

The Taliban and their cohorts have been committing unspeakable crimes against the Afghan people for many years and have been involved in killing several Iranians. Their massacre of thousands of Shia Muslims in the recent past should concern those in the Iranian leadership who view events largely through the prism of religion.

There are also long-term political and strategic ramifications of the impending "war" in the region. Pakistan can easily be destabilized given the tenuous nature of its government. The "Talibanization" of Pakistan, a country with nuclear weapons, should indeed be a cause of major concern for Iran.

Afghanistan, an already failed state, could present numerous challenges to Iran's security interests as it may very well descend into further chaos. One can only hope that the Iranian leadership has recognized the enormity of the tasks before it.

Can we count on the Iranian leaders to seize the moment and think about Iran's national interests and nothing else? This is not the time to engage in the old factional games or play one side against the other. More than anytime in recent Iranian history, the country needs vision and bold leadership.

Nader Entessar, Ph.D.,
Professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies,
Spring Hill College,
Mobile, Alabama

* If I was in Afghanistan

Too much is said about the suffering of Afghan people as the reason why the Taliban should be spared. Not enough people have pointed out that the root cause of their suffering is the Taliban themselves. They should cheer that the mighty United States is taking aim at their oppressors. This may be their only chance to rid themselves of brutal savages who have eradicated nearly all facets of post 14th century civilization.

I know that if I were living in Afghanistan I would enthusiastically take my chances with possible death in "collateral damage" than certain desperate "life" under Islamic fanatics. That said, I think the right thing to do is let the Afghani people seek safe haven. Instead of sealing their borders, the USA should focus on humanitarian aid in a grand scale to allow unarmed people, women and children to move to secure and supervised refugee camps in the borders of Pakistan and Iran.

Diplomatic and economic incentives can be offered to make hosting of Afghan refugees worthwhile to their neighboring countries. In addition the USA should do everything possible to inform the Afghans of what is about to happen in their country and why, giving them reasonable time to take action or seek refuge. To the extent that USA takes the right steps to protect innocent civilians, it will be justified and cheered in using ultimate force to stage an imminent internationally televised end to the Taliban.

As resolute as death-friendly Islamic Extremist may sound, they will respond to "sticks". They may just be so dim as to not fully fathom what that means or they are betting that they will live on just like Saddam Hussein. Now the civilized world has the opportunity to set a new example.

Omid Parsi
New York

* Nothing more important

I read your 20 June article "Limbs of no body". It took me more than an hour. It took me more than an hour to read, then also I had to consult maps, encyclopedias, to talk to my wife of what I was reading. It took me more than an hour because it was too much, I had to turn away, then come back. It took me a weekend. I would have finished if it had taken a month.

Two weeks ago, nothing could have been less important. Now, living within sight of the smoke that rose as the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, and working from an office three miles from the site, nothing could be more important.

I knew nothing of Afghanistan before reading your article, now I know something. My country is at war, not exactly with Afghanistan, but more with Afghanistan than anyone else. I think the leaders of my country don't know what little I now know of the people and of their suffering. They know other things, about Soviet invasions and troop transport and air corridors and future casualty ratios. Of provinces and caves. Of bullets and missles. I wish instead they knew the things I have just learned.

Thank you for your work. I wish your own people well, they will have some difficult choices to make. I wish the people of Pakistan well, they are trapped now by choices they made because of earlier entrapments, with a shattered Afghanistan on one side and an emboldened India on the other, and with Russia and China lurking in the distance. They are the new Cambodia. And I wish for the people of Afghanistan the things they cannot have, peace and security and food in their bellies. Good luck to you and thank you again.


Steven Cherry
Wayne, New Jersey

* How insensible we are

I am an Indian living in the USA and I deeply am saddened by this article on Afghanistan ["Limbs of no body"]. We all are so blind to the grievances of human beings, that we are incapable of being shocked. The mock shock that we show at politcally and economically correct events and instances are a shame to the humanity within ourselves if we become numb towards an on-going crisis of human survival.

This article not only gave me an overview of why Afghanistan is in such a situation, but also and more importantly thereof, how insensible we are.


Ravishankar R

* Afghanistan civil society

I have been a long time reader of your magazine and like the fresh insight that it has to offer.

Yet there is very little understanding of the history of Afghanistan by Iranians. There seems to be the stereotype that Afghanistan never had a civil society or government. In other words, "there was never anything in Afghanistan, and their never will be anything in Afghanistan".

I hope that this is not the case and that people understand the history of Afghanistan. If you could please direct your attention to the following timeline of the political history of Afghanistan (1919 - 2001):

And please review the on-line Afghan culture and arts publication, www afghanmagazine.com, for better insight about Afghanistan and its people.

Warmest regards,

Farhad Azad

* Boro kashketo besaab

I was totally shocked by level of understanding of the issues by this Haja Agha Sajjadi ["Hadafe majaazi"]. First of all I am almost certain that this haj agha doesn't exist in real. It must be one of those contributors. Secondly, I would like to say this about his laateaalaat: "Amoo boro kashketo besaab, inghadr chert-o-pert nagoo".

If think you are smart and you can manipulate people you are wrong. I have only one piece of news for you "Amoo it is over". You might think by attacking Kayhan and AFP as source of junk news, you can hide your real agenda, but haji you are totally wrong. You are just like Kayhan, and AFP.

Don't used terms like' Rooznameh Negar". What credentials, and what rooznameh. You mean Kayhan, don't put that in your resume. Can you give me an article published in a Zoornameh (excuse me Rooznameh). You guys are destroying reputation of journalists. This title used for haj Agha sajjadi reminds me of title' Supreme Leader" used for a mullah.

Did you know humans can not be supreme. Can you find anywhere in literature the word "supreme" used for a human being except Dracula and Satan? Before you adopt such words from Western sources check them out. There might me hidden agenda like your policies.

I advise you to perform a service for people and discuss issues of prostitution and drugs in Iran -- if you really want to contribute anything. Let the people know that agents of darkness can not rent women., like that judge in Karaj did; he thought all women are like their mothers, sisters, and their relatives. These kind of people are used to renting women. They are result of such life style. All of them no exception. Address these issues. In real sense, not manipulated version quoted from AFP.

Kourosh Ferisian

* Sentiments of good citizens

Dear Ms. Sabety,

Your heart felt article on the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11 is excellent ["Blond or bearded"]. It reflected the sentiments of many who live an honorable life in America, are good citizens, and contribute immensely to the vibrancy and prosperity of their adopted country, but yet may be discriminated against because of their ethnicity.

Racial and ethnic discrimination is deeply rooted in America and it will take awhile to overcome it, judging by the progress that has been made in the last 50 years toward greater equality among women and minorities.

It will take serious follow-up on the part of the governmental agencies beyond the well-intentioned, though token, presidential appearance at a mosque to reverse discrimination against middle-easterners .

I hope you have sent a copy of your article to your political representatives. Please continue your battle for the voices of reason and human rights as reflected in your article.


* Had hoped that we had learned

I would just like to thank you for a very clear and insightful article, "Blond or bearded". I have been hearing about all of the idiots who cannot tell the difference between a good person and one who would kill innocents and am sicker at that thought than I am at the bombing.

I had hoped that we had learned our lesson from the internment camps of WW II, but sadly most Americans still have the education of a 6th grader.

I wish you and your family peace and that our government will see the difference between war upon an ideal and war upon innocents caught in between in the Middle East.

Scott Schwartz
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

* Bipedar maadar

Wow! Powerful stuff. ["Reza Pahlavi's warning"].

We read "Since Reza Pahlavi's interview , ..... Khatami and Khamenei sent messages of condolences to Washington and offered their support in fighting terrorism.......Overnight the familiar 'Death to America' has stopped....". And all in one paragraph, indicating the cause and effect. Very impressive. Poor Khatami and Khamenei.

Truley I was not aware of such an influence in any of the present world leaders. And how quickly the subjects obeyed the order.

We have also to thank the writer for translating his majesty's interview in Spanish for us and to know that the root of all Middle East terrorist activities has been the 1979 revolution in Iran and without it the world would have been in eternal peace.

But in his letter to Mr. Bush , his majesty correctly indicates that "other Middle East nations do not share the extremist policies of their governments" ( and the governments should probably be eleminated , as we did in 1979). A very smart observation. And I guess if the people are unable to do so, the United States should remove these governments by surgically precise laser operations and install "constitutional" monarchies.

There is one problem though. His majesty hasn't understood yet that SIAASAT PEDAR MAADAR NADAARAD.While he is writing to president Bush,Tony Blair on his way to Washington is on the phone, talking to President Khatami.

In this turbulent world and in the middle of all terrorist activities,afraid that he may miss something , Reza Pahlavi keeps asking MAARAA KOJAA MIBARAND?

Seriously , accepting the impossible and agree that Reza Pahlavi is the smartest and the most educated and talented person among us all 65 million Iranians,who needs him as a "constitutional" monarch any way? Isn't a constitutional monarch supposedly a figure head only and the dumber the better?

Or he is going to make a difference and like his father and grand father run the country.Then it will not be a "constitutional" monarchy any more. Right?

I know. He never asked for monarchy himself. It is only the monarchist who are asking. All he is asking for is "free" elections, like the ones his father and gran father had, and with such a strong influence, I am wondering why the Mollas have not responded yet?


* Racist claptrap

On the contrary, Mr. Kazemi, we Mideasterns have always been constantly reminded that our "backward" state is our own fault. After all, it was always the White Man's great Burden to civilize us, don't you know?

Of course, we're nothing more than mindless children, in need of the great US of A to instruct us in the ways of freedom and democracy, even if by the occasional Pinoche, CIA coup, or "modernist" Shah. And sure, if we complain, it is only because of our own childish natures that we can't take the blame for our own conduct.

We should be thankful for the great White Man in so patiently putting up with our wayward ways. And of course, Israel's occasional murder, torture, assasination, and ethnic cleansing - heck, that's all the Palestinians own fault too! If they would only all disappear, none of that would be necessary.

What racist, self-righteous claptrap!

John Mohammadi

* Great start

Getting rid of terrorism -- the use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons -- is a great start by the U.S. and I am all for it. Those groups should also include the K.K.K., extremist militias, etc., etc.

Sara J.

* Respecting women

First of all I would like to mention that I am a very frequent visitor of your amazing online magazine and I would really like to congratulate you on such a successful measure. [I hope you don't take this as the usual polite starter... I really mean it.]

I would really really appreciate it if you could publish my email somewhere on your site where all Iranians would be able to read it, hopefully being affected by it because I think it's "really" about time someone spoke up about this...

I know you have a daughter about my own age... just think how much better it would be if all the daughters and sisters my age knew this before they started their journey in a world recognized university, or any other first step of their practical lives...

I know a lot of them. The typical Persian men... who can do whatever they want to other people's daughters and sisters, but keep their own females well aware of the way things work in the Persian community out there. ["Shaazdeh"]

Just think how much better it would be if the definition of "do" in our culture didn't just mean "having sex without one side's consent"... There are other things you can do to other people's daughters that can make them feel equally humiliated and betrayed and disgusted apart from physically and sexually abusing them.

Why does our culture have a definition for "abuse" that is very much hated and opposed, but doesn't have vast boundaries? Why do people think that invasion of people's privacy is not "abuse"? Why do we have to make people, to whom Persian culture is the most beautiful heaven on the face of the earth, get totally disgusted by it once they have experienced it fully and deeply?

Why is it that we can "mock" Iranians who get all dressed up just to go to the grocery store or how Persian males can get easily distracted by females, but not "talk" about how we Persians have the desire to "figure out" every creature within our community more than it's needed? Why do we think it's okay to cross all limits in this "figuring out" procedure?

Why do we think if someone who doesn't know much about us because she has never lived within our social rules, but is definitely interested, has to be the "spice of the month" ... the science project of the semester... and played around with until she promises never ever to step inside the Persian community until there's the shortest sign of life in her!

Please, apart from politics, and the best ways to flatten out your tummies before a big wedding, do teach your children, especially your sons, how respecting a woman means more than opening the door for her or pulling the chair for her at a restaurant... and these are NOT just the common "rules of the society"...

Our heritage that is so much more unique and higher than all other cultures known to mankind, doesn't deserve to be represented in this way. Thanks a lot. I wish you all the best in life...

A true lover of the word "Persian",


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