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March 2004

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* Live your life for yourself

Natasha, [Shared values]

Stop worrying about the Iranians not accepting you as one of them! You are not an Iranian! You have an Iranian connection! Live your life for yourself and your love in your heart, no matter what others think!

I am a Tehrani-American, who has lived here for the last 28 years! I am a third generation Tehrani, and that's what I consider myself to be a "Tehrani!" However, my great-grandma was from Kangavar near Kermanshah, and my dad's ancestors were originally were forced to migrate from Bakhtiar to the state of Tehran, centuries ago by Shah Abbas! So I feel some connections to those places!

A few years ago when I visited Kangavar, they never accepted me as one of their own, since I was not born there, and didn't know anyone and spoke Persian with Tehrani accent! I never felt the connection to that place, but I am always glad that I saw where my mom's ancestors came from.

As for my father side, I'll be visiting there on my next trip to Iran. Do I expect anyone to accept me as one of their own?  Of course not! How can they? I know If I am good, the people all over Iran would be good to me regardless of my ancestral lineage! This is despite the fact that they would not accept me as one of them!

So, don't worry, be happy! And don't let the lack of acceptance by the Iranians bother you! After all, how can you be one of them when you cannot relate to them culturally and linguistically! But, they would accept you and respect you as a good person!



* Boy, do we have a problem!

Dear Mr. Madadi, [We've got a problem]

Your article makes me wonder if perhaps you are too young to remember the movie "Not Without my Daughter." There was a film--and a fact based film at that--about an American woman and her abusive Iranian husband. Lord, did we protest!

I remember my friends saying they would refuse to see it so their money would not go to the makers of that film. Many actually abandoned Sally Field movies altogether! There were praises for Behrooz Vosooghi for the rumor that he had refused to play the part.

I finally saw the film with ten of my friends, but not till it was out in Video! We figured $5 for a group of ten wasn't going to help the enemy! Two years later, they showed it in my son's school. Boy! did the Board of Education hear from us!

Remember Whoopi Goldberg's sit com. with the Iranian guy? Boy, did we show them! No, they can't poke fun at us. We are a touchy nation who love to laugh at ourselves, but will not allow others to laugh at us.

If you ask me, we--Iranians--are very good at protests. In fact, most of the time that is all we do. But do we try to show the world we are better than presumed? Do we join hands and do something constructive? No doubt there are a few who do, but exceptions aside, we prefer to blame others, complain, and nag rather than construct. I believe that's the root of our problems. We never learned to be team players. Look at it this way: Our national sport is wrestling. We like to--as the Persian saying goes-- "stand at the ringside and cheer someone else to knock'em out!"

Who knows, maybe someday, when we are all gone and forgotten, there will be a film to show all the injustice you and I have endured. But let us hope it will be faster this time. If Christ with all his "high up" connections had to wait twenty centuries for the true story of his suffering to be told, heaven knows how long Iranians will have to wait!!

Zohreh Ghahremani


* Return from the world of the dead

In response to Mahvash Shahegh's question about the origins of the black Haji Firooz:

Dear Mahvash,

The face of Haji firooz is painted black to symbolize his return from the world of the dead at the beginnig of Spring. Please read this link regarding the origins of Haji firooz. It's an article I read on BBC's persian site.

Happy Norooz,



* Yes it was for racial reasons

In response to Mahvash Shahegh's question about the origins of the black Haji Firooz:

Yes it was for racial reasons. Ancient kings of Persia used to bring slaves from Africa, and on Norouz they would make them dress up in red and dance for the king. This tradition extended until 1979, when the Islamic Republic banned" HajjiFeerouz" because it had racial connotations and had links to slavery whichwere un-Islamic.

We had a lecture the other day, where it was an African American speaking about Hajji Ferouz. He said "imagine if the Prophet Muhammmad had asked Bilal (the black ex-slave that converted to Islam) to dance for him on New Years....he wouldn't, its disrespectful, its wrong, its racist, and bigotted. However Norouz isn't, Norouz is beautiful, great, and everything that is Islamic"

We should remove this (Hajji Ferouz) from our culture, we must recognize our culture has flaws and bad pasts.

We are all human. The Qur'an says:
"We created you from a single pair, male and female, into NATIONS and TRIBES, so that you may learn from each other (not despise each other), for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise"

Khodah Negah-dar,

Farshad Hemmati


* Think beyond categories

I read Najmabadi's respose [Don't straighten the queers] to Shirazi's piece [Being straight on queers]. I completely agree with Najmabadi and I think it is vital for Iranain youth to continue their discussion about queer rights. It is important to situate the debate on the grounds proposed by Najmabadi because it allows us to think beyond categories and polar distinctions. Nothing about gender roles is essential and the implications of this fact are social, political and personal at once.

elham gheytanchi


* What is she trying to say?

I think I'm a fairly literate person.I read Afsaneh Najmabadi's piece [Don't straighten the queers] today and for the life of me, I can't understand what she's trying to say. I know she's a professor (history, women's studies, yes, all that), but between you and I, she could have used a bit of an edit on this one.

(no name please)


* Quit the queer

Please stop referring to gay people as "queer."


* Straight judgement

Dear Ms. Najmabadi, [Don't straighten the queers]

I always enjoy reading your material including your recent article on "queers" and our judgements as "straights". It is also interesting to note the linguistic implications of the word "queer" as "strange" or "bizarre"!

I also wanted to add that I greatly enjoyed reading your bood "Daughters of Quchan"... a few years ago and I would recommend reading it to every one.

Leila Farjami


* Set to be gay

I wanted to thank Golnar for her sensitive words. [Being straight on queers] It is silent and unspoken between those Iranians who are gay and the millions of Iranian who have been born to our civilization through the centuries as gay men and women, just what it means to live your entire life being disingenuine to yourself and the families we love for fear of society's hatred and misunderstandings.

Less remember it took a couple of hundred years for Black people in America to be considered human (and this process still has a ways to go), a few hundred years for women in America to be allowed to vote, and how long to consider interracial marriage as being alright?????

My prayer is that I will live to know a day that the day an Iranian child is born and his genes set him to be gay, that his world will accept and love him for who he is and understand that being gay is exactly as the world and the powers of our universe have set him to be and that there is nothing wrong with this.



* Honest column

Thank you, Ms. Shirazi, for your honest and brave column on gays and lesbians! [Being straight on queers]

Ara Serjoie


* I would recommand Chateau Margaux

Dear Sanaz Salehi, [It wasn't just the whisky]

I read with great sympathy your sad story. You, a warm-blooded Middle-Eastern woman, have by some cirmumstances been forced to live in a God-forgotten cold industrial town near the North Pole for two years without friends or lover. I agree with you, that's a Gestapo kind of torture !

But, you are being punished by Almighty God for your bad taste : You have rejected the possibility of living and studying in CÙte d'Azur, south of France and for your favorite drink, you have chosen whisky. Is there any person on the earth foolish enough to say NO to a prospective of living in Cannes (CÙte d'Azur)?!!!

Even George W. Bush wouldn't do that ! You may have been spoiled in your childhood by a great wealth, but you certailny ignore even the basics of elegance... Choosing whisky as a favorite drink !! Whisky at best is a taxi driver's drink. Fortunately in our days we have great French wines everywhere in Europe with quite reasonable prices.

For you, living at the vicinty of the North Pole, I would recommand Chateau Margaux, two glasses a day ! It's good for your health and gives you a divine pleasure ! Now in two words, you should dream about living in Cannes, you should change your favorite drink, and last (but not the least) find a strong lover to give you warmth and happiness, otherwise you'll need the help of Dr Freud !

Omidvaram pishnahadat-e injaneb ra bepaziri va az zendegi bishtar lezzat bebary. Az mowgheh estefadeh mikonam va eyd-e Nowruz ra samimaneh tabrik miguyam. Lazem be tazakkor nist ke baray-e eyd-gereftan hich ashamidani behtar az Champagne (THE real one!) nist !

Eyd-e Sanaz khanum mobarak.



* Respect Iranians not insult them

Today, I read the article "Shabah-e naamatboo" written by "Alborz" in your website and I am sorry to say that I wasted my time reading it.

In that article, despite of the author's earlier claim in believing that the religion is a personal believe, he went beyond every limitation and attitude by insulting all Iranian and non-Iranian women who wear head scarf or CHADOR. In his exact words, he called them "VAHSHI" and animal.

I have nothing to say to Alborz because he's clearly showed how rude and impolite and he is by his obnoxious article. What makes me wonder is how you could allow someone like Alborz insult a majority of Iranian women by calling them "animal". Dear people at, Wake up! Your website is supposed to respect Iranians not insult them.

Forget about Alborz and his atrocity towards Moslem women and God's religion. Your website should have some rules. You should NOT allow someone to insult a million of people easily.

What Alborz and people like him wish and dream about, is to have a bunch of nude clubs till he could feel good about women right. Alborz likes western democracy but just that piece of it which allows women to be nude in sex clubs or beaches. Whenever a Moslem woman demands her right for wearing a headscarf, Alborz gets all angry and calls them "VAHSHI" and wishes for Reza Shah's dictatorship.

I urge you to post my Email as a response to Alborz's

A Moslem


* Insulting to all women

I can't believe such bigotry! [Shabah-e naamatboo] This person is both racist and sexist. He despises Arabs and he has no shame in letting us no. But he also insults women -- not just women who wear the vail [by calling them animals], but all women: "France is a country where the value of a woman is in her witt and beauty"! implying that a worthy woman is smart and pretty just like a good horse or dog.

Bahar Sharafi


* So where did the money come from?

Dear Ms. Farah Diba,

I saw your letter on yahoo news, "After 25 years in exile widow (Farah Diba) tells her story" [Yahoo News 03/16/2004]. I have many unanswered questions for you since I read the letter. 

1. You say that you and your husband didn't steal any money from Iran in order to relocate as refugees in the Egypt, the United States and France. So where did the money come that you purchased 2 houses one in France and one in Massachussetts? Did Allah, your Muslim God send you dollars from the sky?

2. You say that your husband tried to stop the SAVAK's abuses. Ms. Diba, I am neither Rashti nor Turk. Please explain. Your husband from my knowledge accepted the creation of SAVAK. Your husband was the final word in Iran during that time. How different was you dear husband from Ayatollah Khamenei? Maybe they dress differently. The Ayatollah wears a turban and your husband wore a crown. It is my belief they were very similar. The Shah has a thrown and the Mullahs have a "mambar". What is the difference between your husband and the Ayatollahs?

3. Your daughter's overdose on perscription drugs had nothing to do with the Iranian Revolution. Life was just probably unbearable in a country where you can't get "Akbar Mashti" icecream.

4. I hope you stop talking. It makes you look like a bafoon. You were an architectural student. You seem smart. But you want to put a spin on history that I don't believe.

5. Queen Soraya was better looking than you and was ethnicly Iranian. You are ethnicly Turk. Are you envious of her?

New York City


* They are so nice

It's a joy to look at the pictures taken by Nader Davoodi [Faces of Molavi]. They are so nice. Finally some original faces apart from those upper middle class pseudos!

Thank you Mr. Davoodi.

Shirin Vazin


* They are real

Thanks for showing us the photos in "Faces of Lalehzar". They may not be the prettiest faces of Iranian people, but who are we to judge them only buy their appearance. To the lady who didn‚t like those pictures and addressed them as "disgusting looking people" you have no right to call them by such names.

These are our people, that are the way they look whether you like it or not, and I think its time we see these faces other than seeing Eye brow plucked, nose reshaped and hair dyed young men of our new generation.

These faces might not be as pretty or as cool as you might like them to be, but at lease they are real. They are also Iranians like you and me and have as much right to be on the cover of as anyone else. Get used to it!



* Oh my how little has changed!

I always look forward to seeing pictures by this talented photographer [Nader Davoodi] that uses subject matters reflecting a unique aspect of our social or cultural heritage. I truly enjoy his attention in presenting images that are actually stories without words.

Although I vehemently oppose the concept of Nazri and have always considered it an ultimate hypocrisy spread by Shia tradition which makes God really mad for feeding bunch of "well to do" people in his name and charity's name! These images [At least a plate] show bunch of well dressed savages with their big pots that need anything but charity. I hope non-Iranians do not see these pictures. Oh my how little has changed!

I wish the pictures showed bowls the size of a cup to convey the message that people were only interested to take a few tablespoon for blessing. God must be shaking his head in amazement that a population with so many educated people claiming to be religious do not know the most simple rule of charity in Islam which is absolute anonymity in act of charity.

But then again we Iranians interpret everything the way, it suits us. Any pictures of preparation of Nowrouz? How about Big buckets of Narcissi flowers (better yet just the flowers), gold fish in clear bowls and decoration for the celebration of new year?

Azam Nemati

More letters (March 2004)
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All past letters

By subject
March 2004

* Community of peace
* Islamic Norooz
* IRI's Haft-Seen
* New Seen: Sirish
* Return the dead
* Racial reasons
* Chateau Margaux
* 8th Seen: Condom
9/11 reaction
* Free Javid Naghani!
Sheikh Yassin
* Clerical nazis
* Clear message
Iranian of the year
* Loser of the year
* For better or worse
Nelson Mandela
* Mind own business

* We fudged up
* We WEREN'T better off
* No alternative course
* Pleasures of freedom
* Dismayed -- alarmed!
* Most share sentiments
* Regret  irrelevant
* Only ourselves to blame
* Why hate Pahlavis?
* Great idea
* Ring in our finger
* Deserves a meeting
* Maybe he had a point
* Chained dogs
* If only a crystal ball

* You filthy bullies!

* Loser of the year
* The money. From?
* Gut feelings
* I still agree
"Guys are stupid"
* He's not stupid|
* Not all so "bisharm"
* Aussie education
* Sexy garbage
* Deserved dickhead
* This is what happens
* Grow up first
* It aint right
* Complete opposite
* Lots in common
* Acting dumb
Women of the year
* Forgot Shadi Sadr
Tissa Hami
* Surprisingly bothered
* Live your life
* We have a problem
* Only one race
* Pride kept Iranians
* Not center of universe
* Only problem we have
* Life without a country
Fereydoun Hoveyda
* Too premature
* Enjoyable

* Read with enthusiasm
* Beyond categories
* ... trying to say?
* Quit the queer
* Straight judgement
* Set to be gay
* Honest column
Goli Ameri
* Fascinating and...
* To Ameri's opponent
* More redneck than...
* I do not have to...
* Priority: Iranians
Majlis elections
* Made up stats
Letter to Powell
* Help me understand...
* Piled high & deep
* Your letter is a shame
Inner donkey
* ... with Jamalzadeh
* Still smiling
Hamid Boroumand
* Esfehooni Boroumands

"Amazing history"
* Bee-hadaf
* Coolest since...

* Too much charand

* Observation

Simple pleasures

* Afghan singer


* They are so nice
* They are real
* Truly amazing
* Little has changed!
* Zar, zoor, tazvir

* Little has changed!
* We have to undo...
* See the big picture
* "... khiz" is Chilean
* Revolutionary song?
* Missing Zoya
* Listened every afternoon
* Moved with Yahaghi
* You are my favorite

Child bride
* I'd like to help
* aka Shirin Neshat
* You get the point
* Islamic Norooz
Foreign or...?
* I know of some cases

* From Iran?

* Insulting to all women
* Respect Iranians
* What I should expect
* Mr. "Fitile Peech"
* I speak Al-Arabiyah?

* Respect Iranians
* Chained dogs
* Thank you!


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