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January 8, 2002

* Looking for my brother

I'm looking for my brother Hoshang Alaii (Alaei). If you have any information about him please contact me at this email address: sirous_alaei@yahoo.com.

Sincerely

Sirous Alaei

* Expressing love in his own language

I would just like to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to translate these beautiful poems [Zara Houshmand's Rumi] ... I am Canadian, and my boyfriend is Iranian ... He is a great lover of poems and would have to translate when he would be reading them to me, I have now surprised him on many occasions with beautiful poems that I can understand aswell ... For this, I am thankful!

Thank you for being a median to express my love to him, in his own language ... : )

Melany Lazazzera

* There are OTHER types of democracies

When you talk about indigenous solution ["All chiefs and no Indians"], what exactly do you have in mind? You admit that the above is the "modus operandi" while seeking indigenous solutions!

The problem, if I may say so without offending you, is that your view of the concept of democracy is confined to your understanding of republican democracy. For your information, there are OTHER types of democratic governments that are NOT republics.

Also your view of Shia Islam needs a bit of mending. The laws of Islam, as you purport to know, cannot be changed, but their implementation/interpretation CAN. Another error: jurisprudence is Feqh and NOT Ijtehad. Shia Islam is by far the most flexible of all shades of Isalm, and this why other Islamic sects view us as heretics! (reply below)

PK

* Shariah subject to interpretation

I am more than happy to address your objections here ["There are OTHER types of democracies"]. Whether there are other systems that purport to be democracies but involve some historical institution is irrelevent. We strive for democracy and the rule of people not some abstract word that can be manipulated to admit less than ideal forms of gevernment only because they are nominally democracies.

The indigenous solution I refer to is not what I aim to prescribe but what should evolve through debate and participation of the people. Unlike you sir, I have no claim to intellectual superiority. You scuff at the concept of Iranians coming up with their own system of government. Do you find us Iranians so incompetant and intellectually wanting that we need foreigners to decide our fate?

As for your second point, your religious education may have been interupted by your migration and I do not falt you on that. The translation of Ijtehad was added by the editor, Mr Javid and not me. There are five sources of Islamic law. The first is the Koran which is infallible. Koranic injunctions are either temporally binding or for all times. Three other sources are Sunna (tradition), Ijma (consensus) and Ghyas (comparison). All of which are guides and can be contradicted. The last source is Ijtehad (Innovation) whose 'door' is closed in Sunna but not Shia.

Although in the Sunni faith one can interpret laws as they pertain to oe of the traditionas of law, as in Hanbali, Shafei ... the muftis can not change the Shariah. In Shia the laws are not codified and though all clerics seem to follow Allameh Majlisi in matters of Fiqh, his edicts are not binding as he is dead. Except for those things that are explicitly for all time in the Koran all other parts of Shariah are not only subject to interpretation but also change.

I hope my correspondence has been adequately respectful to encourage you to respond.

Regards,

Arash

* Religious politics will breed resentment

I agree with many of the statements the writer has made ["All chiefs and no Indians"]. Democracy is the only way. I personally do not bother reading the rhetoric of a bored rich son of a murder or a religious person who thinks establishing theocracy in Iran is the way.

I consider religion a matter of personal choice and am totally against any type of religious government and its involvement in politics at all (for the record I pray, fast and observe Ramadan but strictly as a matter of personal choice.)

My heritage is Iranian and that is the only issue I care about promoting. Any type of religious brand of politics (modern or not) will breed resentment and cause unnecessary pain and truly is a waste of precious time when it is debated.

Let's leave any brand of religion and any person who wants to push religious ideas out of our politics please!!

Azam Nemati

* Comparing two evil systems

I started reading your article with interest ["Consider the facts"], but that interest faded when I realized that you have not offered any explanation for your support of constitutional monarchy. Comparing two evil systems is not good enough explanation for governing 75 million people.I am a staunch supporter of republic form of government.

I encourage you to read COMMON SENSE by Thomas Paine. It was applicable over two hundred years ago as the British colonies were trying to bread away and it is very much applicable for Iran and why we should not chose monarchy.

Simply, Iran needs a republic form of government(exactly what we have here in the U.S.A) with its checks and balances its term limits and two congressional houses and most of the time independent judiciary.

This will prevent tyrannical rulers and absolute power.we have tried monarch for over 2,500 years and we have tried religious tyranny for 22 years. please give a true democracy a try. A system that all will have a voice(voting). And where there is a separation of mosque and state. (reply below)

Mahmood Moradi

* Mistaking one for the other

Dear Mr. Moradi, ["Comparing two evil systems"]

Thank you for your e-mail below. Two points: One, I am talking about constitutional monarchy, not absolute monarchy ["Consider the facts"]. Two, the framework of the speech I gave did not permit for a longer consideration of the reasons for constitutional monarchy.

You are not alone in mistaking one for the other. Most people cannot distinguish between constitutional monarchy, which is a democratic form of government with all the things you have mentioned below, and absolute monarchy which is neither democratic nor displays any of the things you mention. I do not argue for absolute monarchy. Your criticism would be appropriate if I were defending absolute monarchy. As I do not, your criticism is ill placed.

Now, you may ask how is constitutional monarchy different from absolute monarchy. It is different in every way, and in the very ways which you favor. It is better than a mere republic, however, since it also provides for a continuity of tradition that republics do not but desperately want to.

Finally, as to Tom Paine's Common Sense. As I am a professor of political science and political theory in particular, I have not only read but teach this material to my students regularly. Tom Paine's argument is with monarchy of the absolute kind. He also favors the achievements of the French Revolution. His arguments have no bearing on my preferred form of government, constitutional monarchy, with one exception: he is against the notion of heredity in general, for any position in government. On that he and I disagree, but that would take too long to expound here.

Thank you for your interest.

With all good wishes,

Manoutchehr M. Eskandari-Qajar

* Important to remember the circumstances

Ehsan Ghorani,

Indeed, your comments are little more than thinly veiled rationalizations of revolutionary propaganda fetish ['tFailing to consider facts't]. In other words a plethora of pseudo-intellectual assertions exploiting grievance flavored themes of the oppressed, which are simply unfounded, both due to lack of adequate research on the subject matter and, more strikingly, in failing to carry out internal assessment (as opposed to finding blame, which is always easier).

Irrespective of my preferred system of government, Mr. Eskandari-Qajar's contentions were valid, and far from ironical, as you suggest. I believe everyone is aware that both the current regime and the one that preceded it carried their flaws; there is no utopia. And, as Mr. Eskandari-Qajar made it quite clear, when juxtaposed only a modicum of reasoning is required to realize that economically, politically, and socially- life in Iran was simply better during the pre-79 Pahlavi regime. This, of course, goes for those whose lives were not lost in any wars!

Meaningless sentimental assertions, such as 'tbowing down to the West't, in your context, remind me of the rhetoric that mislead people into embracing the ideals that the 79 Revolution. Standing up against the Great Satan, dissuading the West from forcefully imposing its institutions, values, and practices, which are, at best, corrupt, and returning to the ideals of Islamic life, are fruitful efforts I still yearn to discern now in Iran. Its couterproductive efforts have affected the country, and the people, more significantly than anyone else.

Of course, I would love for my country to free itself from any detrimental entanglement, whether social or political, to make its own decisions, to provide what is best for the people. Yet, utter rejection is no solution. A cursory study of Middle Eastern history focusing on the Islamic empire will illuminate the following: whereas the West was eager to adopt Islamic advancements in sciences, providing the foundation for their Renaissance, the Muslims complacently did so with less enthusiasm, making themselves, in a sense, obsurantists.

Of course, the causes of that stagnation and decline cannot be solely ascribed to this one point, as many factors were involved; however, this filter did play a role. This has happened under the IRI. You have to admit to yourself that the West is now spearheading the movement for progress. We must embrace the goods, learn from them, and adapt, all while keeping our traditions and our beautiful religion.

True, "the US would love for there to exist an obedient monarch in Iran"; what other hegemony outside of Iran wouldn't? That's international relations for you. The only way to rise above this paranoia is to become strong, politically, socially, and economically. Until a country is in a situation do so then the people will continue starve, population will mutliply unsustainably, people will be think twice before taking walks outside their house for fear of being questioned on conjugal matters, movies produced will have to disguise their themes with simplistic notions in order to avoid persecution or death (the latter, prevalent in our beloved land), real journalism and reporting will remain a hoax and any attempt to claim the truth will, once again, lead to the persecution or death, the history of our great nation will remain in the dark instead of being praised, etc.

To better the situation does not mean that the country will re-shuffle its ideologies and perspectives. It will not require us to bow down to Western pressure and take a subservient role. That, is not in our nature (for the most part). For instance, we can continue to support the Palestinian cause and work towards achieving a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Pal conflict, and still remain on good terms with the West, namely America. (I live in American and I support the Palestinian cause).

Characteric of too many Iranians, in particular those who have an affinity for the clerics in Iran, and who happened to skim Edward Said's Orientalism, further exacerbating their anger, you take an position that will not work well for the people. Concurrently, neither will the adoption of all that is Western (neo-colonialist submission). I wonder, are you against the system of monarchy in general, the Pahlavi monarchy in particular, or are you a victim of the ease by which the marked apex of a monarchist regime attracts accusation?

You mention the word puppet when referring to the monarch. Characters from the current regime could also be substituted into that mold the masters would only be different. Allegiance and supreme authority lies in the hands of the Ayatollah. I still anxiously await tangible reforms.

When you say "that of bowing to pressure from the US and letting the US decide our future". There are ideological issues that you glaze over and misaddress. You should be aware that the U.S. supported Khomeini at first. In fact, if you think that it was simply the will of the people of Iran that was the sole impetus of Khomeini's entrance into Iran than you are large mistaken. There exists a diversity of plausible perspectives on the downfall of that regime, unlike what is professed most of the time. It the magic of mass media: a simple and easy to follow theme to engender collective opinion.

You laudably declare: "However, history has proven that this situation is intolerable, and the Mollahs - for all their faults - have at least denied the US any further influence." As intolerable as it is, is it not paradoxical that so many Iranians, living in Iran now, are vehement about the prospects of moving to the US? I take it that the people of Iran hold a different outlook of America than the government. Are you not a student in England? In referring to history, she has had a much greater hold on us than any other country from the occident.

Because of our oil, or blood, as some people deservedly call it, not only were we -and many others, subsequently- subjected to the highest level of inhumane exploitation and robbery, which is also a form of terrorism, but we were the victims of many Imperial Games, namely the Great Game (Russian vs. England). Yet, with regards to petroleum, these disparities are what led to the birth of OPEC, which Iran took a leading role in, not complete rejection.

Besides, as many anti-monarchists eagerly stand up to point out the meekness of the "puppets", it is important to remember that given the circumstances in Iran in the early to mid 20th century, the "puppets" did not have much resource to work with in combating imperial efforts. We were in a position of relative weakness in a world that housed a number of powerful, narcissistic, and contending parties seeking to extend authority.

At this time there is no other person that has stepped up, to such a degree, in opposition to the current regime, as Reza Pahlavi has. If there are other prospects do let me know; I have seen none. Furthermore, when asked in the media about his role in a new Iran, R. Pahlavi repeatedly states that he wishes the people of Iran to decide (referendum). As long as people will elect democratically, all will be well.

To be honest, I understand your views. I could tell that you are concerned of the plight of the Palestinians; you believe that Israeli life is promoted as more valuable than of Palestinian or Iraqi life with regards to the latter, over 500,000 have died since the Gulf war; that hezbollah was a freedom fighting organization and now a legitimate movement. To adopt Western ideals is not to reject these opinions.

For instance, it is important to keep in mind that the number of Middle Easterners in America is growing. Moreoever, these people are moving up socially, economically, and politically. They are becoming prominent businessmen, politicians, doctors, etc. In time, this strenghtening will be conducive to desired change in US Foreign policy in the Middle East, which happens to be the most influential one in the Middle East.

Everything happens for a reason, including the 79 Revolution. I think one of the most important results of this revolution were the benefits of education. Many Iranians now living in the world over have had the opportunity of receiving some of the best education available. They have learnt new ideologies and methodologies; they have worked with different institutions and organizations; and they have learnt a great deal that could be implemented in Iran once they return.

A new form of government must accommodate the benefits of such education. This is what R. Pahlavi is proposing. You may believe and argue that nothing is a 100% guarantee, but unless you have alternatives to work with than you have to follow the best proposition. I think too many of us have gone through too much hardship to decide on an Iran whose new regime and constitution will become an instrument of injustice and oppression.

Best,

Amir Ali Boogh

* This monarchy would allow political diversity

I am a fellow Iranian also. I enjoyed your editorial, "Citizen Pahlavi", and found it brave of you to express your true feelings.

Both you and I can relate, but in my case - I long for the monarchy that we once had. Of course, this monarchy would allow political diversity. I would love to go on about this all day - but I am pressed for time, so I will leave it at this.

Thank You,

Arman

* There is still hope

Jamshid, thank you for the wonderful essay ["Killing history"]. It was certainly enjoyable to know that there are those who are passionate about their Iranian heritage.

For a long time, I thought that a country that so cheaply sells its cultural heritage and religion to a foreign conqueror, replaces light with darkness and promotes lies and hypocrisy as the key ingredients for survival, does not deserve any better.

Today, I understand that there is still hope.

Bijan Aria

* Indeed at war with Arabs

Many thanks to Jamshid Charmchi, for his wonderful article ["Killing history"]. Indeed the process of colonization, cultural destruction and ethnic cleansing by the Arabs, to the non Arab (Persian, Kurds, Jews, Christians, cops, etc) inhabitant of the middle east and Central Asia is still on going and far from being over!

Ironically it was Prophet Mohammed's whose first act of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Jews of Arabia, was an initial catalyst for the rest of this process. We are indeed at war with Arabs, both territorial and cultural.

It's about time for our die-hard liberal and leftists Iranian to wake up and smell the coffee (reality check). In particular those Iranians that whine right and left about a Palestenian cause (Kaaseh daaghtar az aash!) .

I have yet to see any Arab whine and yell about youe right as an Iranians to live in peace, democracy, freedom and respect. I am just wondering when will we learn?

Mr. Irani

* A good poem resembles a melody

I always enjoy reading the pieces you publish in your website - whether they are shallow and nonprofessional or scholarly and informative, but may I ask in what way Leila Farjami's ["Papa Noele Marhoom"] fits into the category of "poetry"? I am not questioning Ms. Farjami's talents, but isn't the art of poetry similar to "plastic surgery" or "architectural design"? You not only have to know what you are doing, but you also have to be creative.

The word we use for poetry is "Nazm" and as we all know "Nazm" is another word for order. A good poem not only has order, meaning and rhythm, but above all, upon reading, it resembles a melody. That's why I enjoy reading Shakespeare, Shelley, Goethe, Pushkin, Lamartine, Dante, Hafez, Molavi, Iraj Mirza, Bahar and Moshiri.

A good poem creates a sense of weightlessness in the reader. The reader experiences a sense of physical and spiritual freedom. Of course, sometimes you have to sacrifice rhythm and melody for meaning, but that's okay. The qualities that I just mentioned can be superbly integrated into both classical and "modern" poetry. Therefore, I am not degrading the value and importance of modern poetry, but my argument goes beyond such notions.

I read Ms. Farjami's "[Papa Noele Marhoom]" several times and each time I had difficulty fitting it into the category of "poetry". I showed it to a number of other people and they had the same problem. Of course, Ms. Farjami is not alone and she ranks among other Iranian (Nooriala, Kalbasi, Shamlou, Khalili, Farrokhzad,...) and Pulitzer or Nobel Prize winning American and Spanish poets.

Is it the job of a poet to stack a number of bricks and create a dry, rigid and senseless form that he/she alone knows its hidden meaning OR to design a beautiful structure that is meaningful and appeals to all sorts of mentalities?

Is it the job of a poet to write about cockroaches, soup, hamburgers, barber shops and steak and cheese with mushrooms OR to debunk hypocrisy, describe the majesty of nature, and promote the high ideals of human freedom, ultimate meaning, man's place in cosmos, delicacy of human spirit and feminine beauty and class (the two distinguishing characteristics of Iranian women)?

Now, take the following politically correct poem, which I happened to write instantly, as an example:

Women

always inferior

in the sight of God.

They

are His maidens.

Men

are His pride.

No education,

no future.

Perceived

as objects

of pleasure.

You women,

don't shed tears for men

who oppress you.

Now, the essence of the above poem can be expressed in a more creative way:

Of God and the pride of His creation called man,

Of that enticing creature He favors, but less than a man

Don't shed tears at the foot of a man who runs for someone else,

Don't seek the warmth of a body whose heart beats for someone else.

I believe the good, old days of Kahlil Jibran, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Parvin Etesami are gone, but we should always be hopeful.

Hamed Vahidi

* Congratulations

Congratulations for your photos ["Signs of life"]. Please go on with your photo job about Afeganistan and continue to clarify the ideas of many people around the world.

Regards

Guilherme Morgado

* Jihad Johnny

Sir,

Our prisons contain thousands of men whose parents would claim were good boys who did not really mean any harm.

The fact is that Jihad Johnny ["Let him go home"] from Fairfax went half way around the world seemingly trying to study Arabic and Islam but ultimately was caught carrying a Kalishnikov. He did say that he wanted to be a martyr for Islam supposedly by taking the lives of others he considers as infidels.

The best justice is to bring some reality to Jihad Johnny's world by applying consequences such as prison. If he suffers then that is reality and it should raise his stature in the eyes of the God he imagines. He can also continue his studies of Arabic and Islam in prison as did Richard Reid without the distractions of Kalishnikovs, etc.

Mr.M.

* Liz Taylor in Iran

I was happily surprised with the picture of Liz Taylor in Iran where did you find it. My father saw her in Shiraz and given the Qashqaie's in the background I believe the picture was taken in Shiraz not Tehran. In anycase what great and rare documents you find.

Regards,

Darius Kadivar

* Iranian ambassadors to Sweden

Hello,

I am doing some academic research and request your assistance.

I am trying to find a list of Iranian ambassadors to Sweden from 1964 to present, including the name of the ambassador and the years that he served as ambassador. Do you know where I can find this information?

Thank you,

Gary Kussman

* In Iran in World WAR II

Dear sir,

I have lots of things from my wife's great uncle who was in Iran in World War II. I would love some more info on the mission in Iran ["Bridge to victory"]. The man in our family that was there was named Ernest J Mack svs # 33835032.

If you can find more info on him when he was in Iran our family would love to hear from you. Because he never talked about his time there but I do understand; I to am a vet. Enerst J Mack died the year 2000 and took those stories to the grave along with him...

Very truely your,

David Nugant

* I lived in Bereim

Hi Reza, ["I did not see it as you did"]

My parents and I lived in Bereim up to 34 years ago, when we left for Ahvaz (I was only 3 then) - My father worked for Sherkat-e Naft for 31 years to 1351.

His name was Abbas Nikkhah and he was a senior manger in Abadan and later Managing Director of "Looleh Sazi" in Ahvaz. He passed away 5.5 years ago aged 75 - in Tehran.

I left Iran in 1355 (1976) and have been living in England since. I did visit Abadan & Ahvaz 8-9 years ago - the devestation was sad.

Ghorbanat,

Farhad Nikkhah

* Noruz time

I would like to know the exact time of Noruuz this year, 2002. My calendar doesn't have it written, and I live in Colorado. Can you please help?

Merci,

Janvieh

* Proficiency testing in Farsi

I am looking for assistance for a high school IB student for proficiency testing in Farsi. Can you help?

Thank you,

Debbie Wilke

* Just wants to see pictures

My boyfriend Navid is so homesick for his country, he just wants to see pictures of the streets. I can not wait for him to get home to see your pictures. Do you have any more pictures of everyday life happening on the streets of Tehran? Somewhere that a young guy would have hung out with his friends?

He walked to work and the picture he showed me of the place he walked by is called Tajrish Square. I know I may sound silly, but I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be so far away from all his loved ones.

If you don't have any pictures; do you know where these types of pictures may be online? Thanks for your beautiful pictures.

Sincerely,

Ashley

REPLY: Go here

* Fill out survey

Dear All ,

As most of you know i am studying for my International Baccalaureate diploma. One of the subjects which i am studying is ITGS (Information technology in a global society) and as my main project i have chosen to gather information about Youth in Iran and create a website.

As part of the testing and refinment phase of its development, I have created an survey through which you can assess various factors of the website. Please take a moment or two to fill out the survey, as it'll help me to judge what I'm doing right or wrong.

The url to the website is:
http://www.southbank.net/itgs_users/dehkordy

For more information please contact me on lilzow@mac.com

All best,

Lily Raissi-Dehkordy

* Maryam Jamshidi

Hi,

My name is Ziba and I am looking for a long lost friend from Tehran. Her name is Maryam Jamshidi and her dad used to work for the oil company in Tehran, we used to play at Baashgaahe Naft in Tehran. She has 2 sisters and 4 brothers.

Please if anybody knows about her contact me,

Thanks,

Ziba

* Hossein Mohammadi

Hi !!!

My name is Saeid Firouzabadi. I am looking for Mr Hossein Mohammadi who was the principal in Kharazmi #1 in Tehran during 1972-1980 or maybe later. I finished high school 1976.

If anyone has info about him please contact me at : saeidfb@yahoo.se

Best Regards,

Saeid Firouzabadi

* History of Jask

Hello..

I am originally an Iranian person who was born in Dubai in 1976. I believe that my parents came from a small city called "Jask" in the South East of Iran. I've been looking in some websites for information about the city's history and it's people, but it seems that they arent many.

I would be grateful if you can tell me of websites or even books or publications which has information about this city "Jask" and its history and its people. I am actually more interested in the origins of its people as i'm trying to find out more about my family tree.

Thank you for your time and i'll look forword to hear from you soon.

Salah AL-Hashimi

* Parsi calling

I am a 48-year-old Parsi Zoroastrian journalist with a long-standing attachment to and passion for my madar vatan Iran. Besides, I am also passionate about Western Classical music and English literature. I have been striving to learn Farsi for years, but in the absence of suitable conversational opportunities with native Iranians have not been too successful so far.

I would like to contact, through your via media, other Iranians of a suitable age group, preferably Iranian Zoroastrian women. Hope to see this used in your letters column.

Sincerely,

Arda Kaikhushroo Batha

* Poor family

Dear Sir,

Asalam Alakum

My Name is Kashif Hussain Soomro I am belonging to Pakistan a poor Muslim family I have cleared my Fsc II Pre Eng in Grade C because there are many big problem of my family but sir you can see my previous career you will find my hard working in Ninth class I got First position and in Matric in my class and also in District Shikarpur.

Sir, I am writing this mail to you for a request as now I am able for study in University But due to my poorness I can't afford University expenses would you please help me in this

Sir, I have six sisters and four brothers my father is shop keeper he can't afford my education so I am expecting from your organization if you grant my scholarship.

Sir, even I can't afford my TOEFL and SAT fees. I am looking forward to hearing from you Sir.

Allah bless you

Your Brother

Kashif Hussain Soomro

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