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September 27-28, 2001

* I lost my job

Just wanted to share few words with you. Few days ago, I got an email about world prophecies like the one people are sending out from Nostradamus, which is not true. Also I was sent an email to another friend at the Bahai World Center for getting financial advice since he has a doctorate in economics.

I printed the emails. I use a shared printer where I have been doing computer work as a contractor for the last 7 years. Someone else got my printout. Since being a Middle Easterner rings alarm bell these days, some people panicked.

So the company called the FBI and they investigated me. I explained to them that I was a Bahai and our world center was in Haifa, Israel. I told them about the Bahai prophesies about the United States, in which it will re-shape the planet and lead the world, spiritually.

Anyway, all was clear and I had nothing to hide. (By the way FBI is now hiring Farsi-speaking people!). But right after the FBI interview, the company where I worked revoked my contract and I lost my job. Even though I believe I was discriminated against, I took this incident as a blessing.

Just wanted to share with you and tell you to watch out for emails and what you are saying on the phone since it could go against you.


* Are you crazy?

Recently an Air Canada Flight on route to Toronto was turned back, correction, nearly shot out of the sky by the US Air Force, for as it turns out, the misbehavior of an Iranian passenger, a certain Mr. Navid Naghani of Los Angeles (news here [1] [2]). After reading the reports of his amazing rambunctiousness (apparently the result of one too many Sangrias in the terminal), I felt I must say something out of concern for a fellow Iranian, and write a letter to him to try and help him find his way back to civil society and common courtesy. Or maybe not...

Dear Navid,

I have been meaning to write you now for several days (but I just kept finding better things to do, you know how that is; well maybe not) to ask what possessed you to behave like a donkey from Ardabil, on the recent Air Canada flight to Toronto and in so doing, ruin the reputations of Iranians everywhere who have been working for 20+ years trying to repair the unfairly represented image of Iranians as religious zealots, fanatics but above all, gross and mediocre partiers! Are you crazy? Are you malformed?

Bruce Bahmani

* Stop whining

Make it STOP! PLEASE! No more of the endless whining on iranian.com about the difficulties of being an American-Iranian!

Let me see if I can make this issue a bit less complicated for you American-Iranians, so we can move on to some other issue to whine about: You probably already ARE an American, and that's OK. Whatever conflict exists between your American side and your Iranian side is in your mind only. So relax and give it a rest!

Despite the common red-neck claim that you must either "love-it-or-leave-it", America is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You define America. You shape it. Being an American does not necessarily mean being arrogant, drinking too much beer, eating too much junk food, and watching too much TV while waving a little flag once in a while and having little knowledge but lots of strong opinion about world events, or anything of that sort. That's being an idiot, not an American.

You can eat your ghormeh-sabzi, speak Farsi, pray to God five times a day, wear a chador or a bunch of feathers or a anything else you want to wear, socialize with whomever you choose, stick little pins in your nose or color your hair orange, express whatever opinion you have, be secular or athiest or agnostic or a fundamentalist Christian or Moslem or Jew or Buddhist or Satanist, and pretty much do or say whatever you want anywhere and anytime - as long as you respect the rights of other people to do the same. THAT is being an American.

Politically, you can be as patriotic or unpatriotic as you want. You can burn the flag, or wrap yourself in it and march up and down your drive-way to the tune of "Yankee Doodle Dandee." You can support US foreign policy (on Iran, Israel, Spain, the Antartic) or totally oppose US foreign policy and press to change it. You can agree with Bush and his "War on Terrorism" or you can oppose it. In fact, as a member of a functioning democracy, you have a duty to voice your opinions and express your agreement or disagreement with YOUR government's policies. THAT too is part of being American!

Are you going to encounter social pressures which will try to prevent you from doing any of this? Are you going to encounter people who will try to impose on you their view of what it means to be an American? Will you be told that you must try to "fit in" or else be labelled as an "Anti-American" ungrateful outsider? Of course! So, you'll have to grow some thicker skin and sharper elbows in order to secure your rights as an American - just as others have done before you - to live your life as you choose. You'll have to assert yourself, because facing hostility and ignorance is part of the American experience!

Are you an immigrant who had to stand in line for a green card? Did you suddenly find yourself on these foreign shores, with not much money and poor English language skills? Congratulations! So have millions of other Americans before you! You have had the most American experience there is, right next to playing baseball, listening to rock 'n roll, smoking a joint and eating apple pie on the 4th of July: the immigrant experience.

You are another addition to a wide mixture of peoples from all over the world who have gathered here on land taken from the Native Americans 200 years ago.

No one has a superior claim to being an American than you because everyone here is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant. So even your immigrant experience is also part of being an American! In summary, no one can impose a "love-it-or-leave-it" choice on you unless you allow them to do so.

No one can force you to abandon your culture or language, unless you allow them to do so. No one can make you ashamed of your name or skin color, unless you allow them to do so. All you have to do is respect other people's rights while you define and live your own life. THAT is being an American, and despite all the idiocy and arrogance, that is what has made this a great country. So quit your whining already!

John Mohammadi

* My feelings have not changed

I just want to say that my feelings have not changed towards Iranians. For me, those responsible for this inhuman attack against the towers in America are terrorists, exactly as the Italian "Brigate Rosse" (Red Brigade) or the Spanish or Irish terrorists. What has happened has nothing to do with the principles of Islam.

I don't know exactly where you live, but if you stay in America I can imagine that these are not favorable times for you.

You have all my support. I just wanted to say this; it's not much, but it's everything I can do. Maybe I can do something more sending you a new article that I'm preparing for an Italian publication... I could translate in English and send you as soon as possible (but, as you know, I'm quite long...)

Best regards

Matteo Compareti
Author of "Sogdiana"

* Where do YOU stand?

Dear Moji Agha,

You seem to oppose me for sport ["Soft Talibanism"]. Why do you not attack my argument rather than my person? Since you have written me personally and in the letters section, let me take this opportunity to clarify where you stand for myself and the good readers of iranian.com. I am sure many, like me, would love to know where you stand politically.

It is easy to write essays opposing this person or that using whatever psycho-babble they have taught you wherever you got your degree. What is it you teach "conflict resolution"? Wow! I bet you are really qualified for that. You attack me and call me a fanatic and a Taliban-like feminist, but never go near my argument. What are you afraid of? Exposing your true politics?

So I will spell it out for you like I would for a freshman class. Here is your chance of clarifying your stance vis a vis my argument: women are oppressed under Islamist regimes. Where do you stand on the issue of forced hejab in Iran? Or on the issue of how women are treated by the Taliban or by the theocracy in Iran? Do you believe the plight of women in our country is a human rights issue?

Your arguments are all rhetorical and you use convoluted psycho babble to confuse the issue and blurt out your misogynistic stance. Why don't you come clean and say who you support? Where do you stand vis a vis the concept of the Velayate Faghih? Do you condemn Khamenei? Why don't you come clean and show who you side with? Because you may be able to talk psychology all you want without revealing your politics but to argue politics you have to reveal yours -- either that or don't play. Are you for a theocracy in Iran?

You see, if you do not answer these questions we cannot really have a political debate. And frankly I am tired of mudslinging. Shame on you that in the face of such tragedies you choose to pick like a school boy on someone whom you disagree with. I write my opinions not as a counter attack but as genuine thoughts that have been brewing for years. You seem to make a profession of disagreeing without any modicum of logic or substance.

Who are you defending? What do you think of Khamenei? Ansare Hezbollah? Should women be half-witnesses? Should they need husband's permission to travel? Should they be stoned if they commit adultery or murder?

I still would rather live under Sharon than Hamas because his government treat their own women at least better than Hamas would theirs. Why not pick on the substance of my argument: the treatment of women by Islamist regimes? Where do you stand on the question of corporal punishment?

Remember, if you do not answer my questions and attack me personally using psycho-babble, you will be deleted like you usually are by many readers. I prefer spending the five minutes reading your polemics pondering what to do about the plight of Iranian women.

Setareh Sabety

* Interrogational

In regard to Setareh Sabety's terrifying letter ["Where do YOU stand"], I will not dignify it with a direct response. She has posed many "questions". Most are rhetorical, so they are not real questions, so they do not call for answers. Some are interrogational, hence violent in nature, and I do not encourage violence by responding to them.

As to the ones that are substantial, they have all been answered in my articles (and letters) here in this very publication. I refer the interested readers specifically to my article on Feminism ["Reduced to genitals"]. Other articles in which my political stance is sketched are ["Engage"] and ["Think wider"]. In "I am tired" I describe my initial reactions to the Sept. 11 tragedy, while "Mohsen and Bono" describes my views about Afghanistan. My other article "Chairness" is devoted to a reflection of the nature of power.

After I read Ms. Sabety's most recent article in the Iranian ["We are the victims"], I wrote my response ["Soft Talibanism"] in which I described what I believe HER THINKING (not her person) has in common with that of the Taliban. Later on, I saw the below-mentioned article in the Christian Science Monitor and was reminded of her tragic sentence in regard to living in Sharon's Israel. I decided to send her a PRIVATE email (using the link at the bottom of her article) to invite her to read this article. I also included my sincerely felt prayer for her, which also reflects my sorrow and revulsion regarding the tragic influence of ideological robotification on her soul -- as an example of what happens to whoever who gets jailed in an ideology.

It is this email that she has made reference to in her letter ["We are the victims"], in which she has ironically accused ME of "mudslinging", but has failed to include the email -- perhaps not accidentally. Here is the entire text of my private email to her -- which I now have to reveal in the interest of full disclosure:

Subject: CS Monitor article

Dear Ms. Sabety, Since you are so fond of living is "Sharon's Israel" please read the article below in the Christian Science Monitor.

Wishing your conscience to wake up.


Moji Agha

This is the extent of my interaction with Ms. Sabety in private. My other discourse re her ideas (not her person) are public right here in the letters section. I leave the readers to judge for themselves, and invite them to share their perspectives, because the virus of ideology is unfortunately not an isolated phenomenon -- it is a problem that has consistently afflicted our "intellectual" discourse in the modern era, at least since the Constitutional Revolution.

But, to those who care about human rights which in my view includes women's rights, I want to say that it sure is a sad reality, but not surprising, that the proponents of ideologies would dismiss criticism of their folly by attacking the person of the critic, as opposed to paying attention to the substance of the critique.

Ms. Sabety calls me a "misogynist" because I point out the problems with Feminism as an ideology. The so-called "defenders of Jews" in Israel and elsewhere accuse anyone who dares to criticize their tribalistic survivalism of being "anti-Semitic," in exactly the same way that "religious" fundamentalists of ALL "religions" accuse those who dare to criticize the ideological jails they have built for the human spirit as being heretics of some kind.

Again, the substance is the same, only the forms vary. Sorry if Ms. Sabety perceives what I say as "psycho-bable." An old professor of mine said many years ago: With "friends like these (Ms. Sabety) who (women's rights) needs enemies?"


Moji Agha

* Don't get carried away

Dear Setareh,

We all whole heartedly agree with you ["We are the victims"] that it is much better to live in Sharon's Israel than in occupied Palestine , at least for the sake of your children. Remember the picture of the man on the bridge? Remember he was holding and trying uselessly to protect his little son from the "mistaken" bullets of the "anti-Nazi" Israeli solders?

Just because the little boy had dared to throw a few stones at the well armed occupiers?

Sure you would rather live in Israel if you can. But aren't you carrying it a little too far by claiming that "Women under Islamic fanaticism are like Jews in Nazi Germany"? Where in the world the Jews in Nazi Germany enjoyed one hundredth of the love, respect and support that we Iranian men, even "under Islamic fanaticism" have for you as our mothers, sisters , wives and daughters? Even if not at your American "standards"?

Please when you sit at the desk, dear Setareh , don't let your pen and emotion carry you beyond realities.



* Your Fatwa

In response to "You are a kaafer",

It must be exhilarating to have the divine authority to brand a whole nation "kaafer" on top of having an "international company owning", "Makkah and Madina vacationing", "covered mother" who has not only surpassed but physically "overpassed [sic]" many men.

In your next Fatwa, could you please expand on the correlation between "showing legs" and the "killing of civilians in Palestine". A tip from the "uncomplaining" covered mom on her metamorphosis techniques to other company owning women, who need to double-up or switch gender to testify in a business dispute, could be enlightening as well.

Shahriar Zangeneh

* People like you

This is response to the letter sent by SJ titled "You are a kaafer". There is really one thing that I can say to you, and that is, what is happening -- the pain and misery caused in the world today -- is because of people like you!

Religion is supposed to be a personal thing, not something that is forced onto others. You think just because you cover yourself, men respect you more? That they treat you differently? I think not. It's not what you wear that makes you a better person, but it's who you are.

I'm not saying to get anywhere in this word, you should show off your breasts, or use your sexuality as a woman to get anywhere. But for goodness sake, covering your hair and and looking like a black crow certainly won't get you any respect either!

I'm an Iranian, and proud to be one too. I'm not religious, and too tell you the truth , every time, I hear or read things like your letter, it makes me want to stay far away from religion as much as possible. What I do believe in is that God has given us brains to think, and make correct judgments. I don't need a book that was written thousands of years ago, which is not even relevant to today, to tell me what to do.

I respect your mom for running her own business, and being able to overcome a lot of obstacles. But in regards to spending vacations in Mecca or Medina, I'd rather go somewhere to learn something new about other people, cultures, and yes, even their religion!

Sharareh Shirazi

* More compassionate

Since 11 Sep we have heard a lot about what is wrong with American foreign policy. As an Iranian married to an Irish man, I've been aware of the impact of American foreign policy on Iran, and the ignorance of American people on Ireland.

Historically, Irish terrorists (IRA) have received huge funding from the Irish-American community in the States. Most of these people have never set foot in Ireland, but have contributed to the continued suffering of people in Ireland and England through a misguided romantic notion of "liberating" Ireland.

On 15 August 1998 when the IRA planted a huge bomb in the Irish town of Omagh resulting in the death of many women and childeren, voices of condemnation from the US were very muted.

This is an event that is very vivid for me because amongst the dead was the 20 month old daughter of one of my friends. Nearly three years on, the Irish people have been unconditional in their support for the American people following the WTC tragedy.

I hope that if there's anything positive that can come out of this tragedy, it is for the American people to emerge as a more compassionate nation with some understanding of others' suffering.


* Other news

I'm an Iranian who happens to live in Canada. I am equally appalled by the Sept. 11 tragedy. However I think we should remember that terrorism against the United States is not the only news in the world. There are people who are still homeless living on the streets, the hungry still exists, and local crime still continues.

By giving our undivided attention to the U.S. we are forgetting about everyone else. What's been done has been done, all we can do is move forward. The fight against terrorism should continue, but we should remember that the fight for a human, just and equal world must forever continue. Let's not forget yesterday's issues.

I believe as a reputable news agent it is your responsibility to maintain a diverse number of articles that focus on various world issues.

Thank you,

Ayda Lak

* Who cares?

This is in reply to Craig Moreschini's "Will you stand for this?" :

I agree with you on one point that the loss of any civilian life is a tragedy. I am so saddened by what happened in New York and the loss of so many innocent lives. However, I have a strong disagreement with you as I do not find your words sincere enough.

You fail to mention the innocent lives that are lost due to the America's double standard policy. How is that no one is concerned about those who are butchered in Palestine by the Zionist army? How come no one talks about state executions carried by the Zionist regime. How come no one was concerned when all these Western countries equipped Saddam with the state of art chemical weapons that caused the lives of so many young Iranian men.

Have you ever seen how it looks like to die of chemical weapons? I am sure you have not. But I have seen my own people persih in scores. How about 500,000 children who have died in Iraq due to the sanctions? Who gave a damn? No one, not even you or your government, becuase it is in the interest of America, the so-called land of freedom and Isreal.

In America's dictionary, terrorism does not mean killing of civilians. Terrorism means opposing the interests of United States and its illegitimate son, Isreal. Most of the 600 people who have been butchered by that war criminal Ariel Sharon are rock throwing teenage boys. Then again, who cares? No one!



* Like soup

Baa Salaam,

It's very nice to realize that this community, iranian.com, is the meeting place for so many different ideas. The problem is that when you look from a bird's eye the whole thing is like a soup without direction or solution. This may be one of our national characteristics: we discuss for hours and hours, then we forget what we were talking about.

A good approach would be to link articles, letters with the same subjects, in order to follow-up towards some direction, to reach a conclusion. A good example of this is the discussion forums where you see an original letter and those related under it as a hierarchical tree. Every writing will have a score panel so that those with less readers are eliminated after a while on a FIFO baseis.

Another issue is that should give more place to translations of our original literature for those who are researching our culture or the new generation growing up abroad that can not read Farsi. An example would be a structure like: Literature>Poetry>Classic>Hafez>English. There are zillions of sites hosting huge amount of such material that can have links on the appropriate pages.

After all this would look at a lot of time and money but we all want the best for the iranian.com which has become our 'patogh' where we search for our lost identities. Improved or not we love it anyway.

Kind Regards,

M. Hosseini

* Thank you

Audio here

Steve Mitchell

Comment for The Iranian letters section


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