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Letters

 

September 1998

* Press ban:
-
Kafka meets Beckett

* Afghanistan:
-
Taleban a threat but...
- Lack of concern
-
Still paying for isolation

- Lessons from Hitler's
-
Don't be so emotional
- Khalili's reply

- What else do you expect?
- Need to speak out

* Emigrant:
- Kindled a fire within me

- Bravo!

* The Iranian:
- Comprehensive

- Best source

* Music:
- The past is still in me
- We dance

* Baskerville:
- Finally, the film

* Alphabet:
- Farsi alphabet is easy
-
Self-defeating
-
Pre-Islamic text
- Paint faces milky white
- Change it

* No contradiction:
- Religion and intellectualism

* Women/Iraj Mirza:
- Kayf kardam

- Frankly, he's wrong
- We don't call this rape
- Rape victims' double loss
- Let's not dismiss his point

- Acceptable enticement
-
Ahead of his time

* Revolution:
-
Iran is dead

* Iran/U.S.:
- Iran's frozen assets in U.S.

* Privacy:
- Obey rules

- Reply: I don't think so
- Respect Iran's laws
- Bamouthing

* Women:
-
I hope one day...

- No happier than chadoris
- Not ALL women selfish

* Men:
Not all are pigs

* Helping Clinton:
- Such hyprocrisy!

- Didn't swear he'd be a faithful
- Clinton is the best ever
- Maybe they help the poor
- Clinton was framed
- He's guilty
- I'm not proud
- Most corrupt president

 


Friday,
Sept 25, 1998

* Kafka meets Beckett

These very funny and astute cartoons ["Not funny"] reveal an absurd and hallucinatory aspect of life in the republic which can only be described as Kafka meets Beckett.

It reminds one of all those surrealist and strange works of art coming out of the Eastern bloc in the sixties and seventies which exposed regimes which were found on an illusion and did their damnedest to protect it; they claimed they lived in utopia and simply ordered everyone to close their eyes to the slim oozing out of every crack and crevice of the society.

It seems to me that questioning the veracity of the state television is the most basic principal of a democracy and banning a newspaper for this makes a mockery of the old excuse of "democracy is fine but to a certain point." It is that "certain point" that ends up shutting down newspapers and banning books.

Asghar Massombagi
amassombagi@mercury.bc.ca

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* Comprehensive

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for providing Iranians around the world with such a comprehensive site (news and data). My family and I enjoy your site very much.

Homayon J.
homayon@prodigy.net

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Thursday
Sept 24, 1998

* Not ALL Iranian women selfish

I am a 21-year-old female, half-Persian and half-American. I agree on many points of your opinion and disagree on others ["I'm NOT a rug"]. I tell people that I am Persian, not because I am ashamed of where I was born and raised for half of my life, but because I think it sounds beautiful (Iranina/Persian its all the same).

I do not know many Persians here in the U.S. All of my life I have done as I have pleased; my parents have not agreed with many of the choices that I have made, but this is my life and I am not a puppet. I have always hated biology, chemistry etc.; I have attended three different colleges and still do not know what major I would like to go into.

I do care about the way I look (by the way there is nothing wrong with that, just as long as it is not to the extreme); I care about the way I look because I feel more self confident when I am dressed well, my hair is fixed, and my makeup is just right. I do not fix myself up for others, I really do not care what people think of me. If a person does not like me for who I am inside and outside then they are not worth knowing.

I believe that it is great that you are trying make people stop to think of who they are and what they are doing. However I believe that you are also closed minded, you just labeled all Iranian females as selfish, disrespectful, degrading people with low self esteem, and I did not appreciate being labeled as such.

J.A.

 (Back to top)

* Kayf kardam

Good job ["Iraj Mirza poem"]... Kayf kardam... Dast-e shomaa dard nakoneh... Keep-up the good work...

Rod Jalali
HOMAYON@prodigy.net


Wednesday
Sept 23, 1998

* Iran's frozen assets in U.S.

On Guive Mirfendereski's "Shedding inhibitions," I see many Iranians, even in the U.S., talk of Iran's assets in the U.S. The Algerian Declarations that led to the release of the U.S. diplomats in Iran (after 444 days in captivity), contain the mechanism for the release of Iran's frozen assets in the U.S. (among other subjects).

Having worked with the special organization that continues to implement that mechanism (arbitration at The Hague, suits in the U.S., in Iran and other forums), I would like to hear what these "assets" are. What is the source for this claim. I hope it is not Mr Rafsanjani's messages to reporters.

I think one should note that the head of the organization in Iran that pursues this issue, Dr Jahromi, has not said anything about such assets. Maybe Mr. Mirfenderski can help me understand this.

Hamid N.

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* Frankly, he's wrong

Reading the Iraj Mirza poem brought up some mixed feelings for me and my friends. In some ways this poem might sound funny and cute but in some other ways harsh and arrogant. The poet simply admits that he allows himself to be manipulative, deceiving, and seductive to get to what he wants and meanwhile he's making a point!?

Oh yes, he takes advantage and trashes the woman because she's sticking to backward beliefs. Note that her beliefs are not so backward to her or any one else who has grown up with these beliefs and has never been exposed to any different ones.

Who is he blaming here? And what is he trying to suggest through his poem? Like that's going to help the woman to start thinking any differently! Like that's going to teach her a lesson! About what? That she shouldn't trust and believe any man ever again?

Frankly, Iraj Mirza didn't have to be so full of his own thoughts to the point of forcing himself (or his ideas and beliefs) on his target to make a point!

Zohreh Hosseini
s.zohreh.hosseini@us.arthurandersen.com

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Tuesday
Sept 22, 1998

* Iran is dead

Yes, I have a story about the revolution which destroyed our homeland ["Revolution: 1979- 1999"]! I remember our house being burned down by "revolutionaries. " I remember crying as loyalist soldiers took us to the airport in the middle of the night. I remember the party my parents had two weeks before; women and men in Western dress, making toasts to "Shah-e aziz....begoo taa khoon berizam!" and saying that the revolution will never be victorious.

We lost everything we had, our family lost its status, home, most lost their lives because they loved Iran, because they were loyal to our beloved Shahanshah. My own grandmother was murdered for refusing to wear the chador, my father's brother was beaten to death for refusing to put the picture of the Shah down in his office, my father has memories of fanatical doctors killing young wounded soldiers loyal to Iran.

I was four-years old and the images are in my mind as if it was yesterday, everything we had was lost. I lost my identity, my country. I was not a politician, only a child.. If the revolution is so glorious why did so many leave Iran? If Islamic values are so wonderful why are most Iranian girls only interested in finding a rich husband? Whatever happened to modesty? Why were innocent people killed for loving Iran? Why were we forced to leave our home because we wanted what was best for the people?

The revolution was a satanic alliance of the U.S. and the Soviet Union to overthrow a regime which revolutionized the Middle East! Under the Shah we had everything; we became human. It was the fanatics and foreigners who took us back to the dark ages.

PLEASE look at both sides of the story. History is always written by the victor whether it be right or wrong. Perhaps everyone who supports the bloody revolution should take a look at the hypocracy within themselves, claiming to support a popular uprising when so many people died for nothing but a return to the dark ages and a culture based on barbaric Arabic ideals. IRAN IS DEAD.

Reza Indra Velayati
behesht@hotmail.com

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* Taleban a threat to mankind, but...

As a non-Iranian (German) I am not in a position to give advice to what the Iranians should do or not do with the Taleban threat ["Afghan survey"]. But,

1. A war won't bring complete victory for Iran, and definitely brings only good wishes from the Western countries, but no help in that war,
2. Every war is a waste of lives and resources; it may not exactly be something that Iran needs to become more strong and satisfied (it is the same as in Germany: both countries need three things in first place: jobs, jobs and jobs),
3. aAwar means, that the Iranians would be united against an enemy, but is this enemy really trying to harm Iran itself? and
4. All the critics of Iran will love to see Iran having its Vietnam. Poor soldiers.

In my opinion the Taleban are a threat to mankind. They are the worst religious barbarians the earth has seen, since the Christians in the dark ages. But it would be wise not to launch a major war against them. Since the iranian army is a proper army and the Taleban will evade any open battle, the Iranian army can only loose.

There is no honor to gain, just dead young Iranian soldiers and the poor Afghan civilians dying. The only thing Iran can do is divert the Taleban from their backers in Pakistan, but this will be almost impossible. We will see the Taleban for quite a while.

Klaus Wichmann
MasterD@erde.westfalen.de

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Friday,
Sept 11, 1998

* Need to speak out against Taleban atrocities

I would like to thank Laleh Khalili for a beautifully written diatribe against war ["We don't need this"]. Her concern and her arguments against what appear to be impending hostilities between Iran and Afghanistan are well founded, and compassionately expressed. I am in the process of applying for Iranian citizenship on the basis of my marriage to an Iranian, and it deeply concerns me that my adopted country might go to war for any reason.

However, I take exception as a citizen of the world when she says that we should not speak out against the brand of "Islam" as practiced by the Taleban. I don't like hypocrisy and I trust others to see it when I do, but I see irony as a lesson, and when the Iranian government speaks out against the Taleban I believe there are many lessons in the making.

As a humanitarian, I believe that conscience has no boundaries. She says herself "I will be damned if I stay silent" and she speaks with commendable conviction and strength, she also writes from a position of privilege. She and I, if we lived in Afghanistan today, could not do what we do, could not be who we are, could not express ourselves this way. We would, quite literally be damned if we did not remain silent. To have rights, I must grasp my uncomfortable responsibility and bear witness for those who have none.

Where there is suffering of any kind we should speak out and do everything within our powers to alleviate it. Like Laleh Khalili, I do not believe that we can achieve our goals with aggression. Unlike her, I believe that we all (Iranian government included) have the right to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever we come across it.

The people of Afghanistan, and in particular the women, deserve our compassion and to hear our voices raised against the oppression under which they live. I was horrified at the Amnesty International report that the Iranian diplomats were murdered and left in the building without proper burial. I have also been horrified by the Amnesty

International reports where ordinary Afghanis have been shown mutilated and tortured in the name of Islam. It is our sad task to bear witness to these tragedies, and a burden of our freedom to speak out loudly against them.

By speaking out against these atrocities, we give the youth, our conscience, the opportunity to take full part in the future we insist on building for them. If their voices can be heard, they will not need to raise their fists. Only when we are denied the power of free speech, do we feel that we must we find other means to act.

The people of Iran have a tremendous gift to share with the outside world. They have been through revolution and war while in the West we have, for the most part, experienced peace and prosperity. We have become soft to the notion of war, and cynical enough to suggest it as an economic solution. But true pacifism is a hatred of war. I would relish the irony of a country thought to only solve its problems through violence, finding a solution to the current crisis through firm diplomatic dialogue and a sense of compassion. While others use more conventional weapons, we need to remember that an eye for an eye still makes the whole world blind.

I believe there is a will for peace, and a reason for peace and that should give us hope. But we must continue to bear witness and encourage others to do the same lest we are the ones who are branded privileged hypocrites. I look forward to reading more from Laleh Khalili and I do not think it is a coincidence that the first real political commentary I have read about Iran in The Iranian; (other than the news section) has been written by a woman.

Not in silence,

Galina Minou Aghamiri
bugfish@mci2000.com

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* Lessons from Hitler's Germany

There is little doubt that a war in the region would not be to the benifit of any nation particularly Iran. However it is important to put some of the movements into historical perspective. British Prime Minister Chamberlin chose diplomatic routes in dealing with Hitler's Germany. He believed sacrificing another nation's sovereignty in order to protect the peace was the most appropriate option.

Iran should not engage in full-scale military strike against the Taliban because it will engulf the region in war. However, just as the U.S., it must reserve the right to protect its citizens and support the opposition forces.

Iranian missiles could easily be used in the form of limited strikes to pound Taliban strongholds and achieve political and strategic goals as well. The primary aim should be to warn the Taliban that any future "misbehavior" would not be tolerated and to give the opposition some breathing space.

Rostam Farhadieh
z2139152@student.unsw.edu.au

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* Don't be so emotional

This sort of attitude is why Iran is such a screwed up place ["We don't need this"].

Laleh Khalili writes: "And my heart bleeds. I awoke in a cold sweat last night, terror drowning me, my lungs crushed by distress. I enumerated in my head all those things that would cause me that much anxiety, and among them all, the only insurmountable burden was the thought of Iran going to war. I felt utterly helpless, utterly terrified."

What?! Stop being so damn emotional and extreme on every issue. There are real geopolitical reasons why the Iranian government is acting this way toward Afghanistan (and believe it or not, the diplomats are the tip of the iceberg). Let's try to be more rational in our next attempt at a political statement.

(No name)
publicpc@library.berkeley.edu

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* Khalili's reply: I do not condone injustices

Dear Ms. Aghamiri,

Thank you infinitely for your kind words. I just wanted to clarify a small point. I do not condone the injustices committed by the Taleban in Afghanistan. But I also believe that in that war (as in many others) there are no "good" or "just" sides. Rapes, murders, massacres, mutilations, and barbarism are committed by all.

The reason I don't find the Iranian government's protests agaisnt the Taleban valid is because I think it has more to do with Shi'a-Sunni schism and geopolitics rather than any particular discomfort at the manner in which the Taleban choose to interpret the Qoran. But thanks again for your comments and I am happy to say that as Iranians we are that much richer for having someone like you among us.

Laleh Khalili
LalehK@aol.com


Friday,
Sept 18, 1998

* Lack of concern for national interests

Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi opines ["National interests come first"] that the Afghani issue should be thought of carefully and the present regime should take Iran's national intersts into consideration first. Although I agree in principle with what Amirahmadi says, but in reality, I do not believe that this regime cares about Iran and Iran's national interests including the well being of Iranian people.

This regime has shown an abject lack of concern for Iran's national interests during the past twenty years and esepcially during Iran-Iraq war. It spent billions of dollars of Iran's national wealth and human capital in order to continue a war that could be finished honorably after we defeated Iraqi army in 1982 (after the recpaturing of Abadan and Khorramshar).

As the mollas and their families were residing in Tehran and other large cities far away from the war front and in fortified castel like houses, Khomeini sent hundreds of thousands of Iranian high school kids to their futile death on the war fronts and on the mine fields so he could dream about "liberating Jerusalem through Karbala!"

Dr. Amirahmadi is one of the very few Iranian scholars who has been visiting Iran regularly at a time that Iranian political dissidents, writers, poets, journalists, college professors, artists including average Iranians were being persecuted by this regime for their reluctance to endorse Khoemini's criminal policies.

For this regime, Iran's national interest means the survival of of the regime at what ever cost. I am afraid, Professor Amirahmadi is barking at the wrong tree!

Hamid Reza Roshanravan
roshanravan@mailexcite.com

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* Kindled a fire within me

Though not a Persian, I am an Indian who lived in Kuwait for over a decade until I came to the States. The article "The little emigre" starring herself in the lead, was a candid expression of the evolution of human thought and perception throughout life, and it kindled a fire within me.

I was reminded of the time, not so long ago, when I first landed on these shores with a mind full of imaginative anticipation and a heart brimming with innocent (relative to now at least) excitement. I've had my share of losses and looking back upon them now, I thank God I made it through them without turning into an embittered and callous psycho.

I could go on, but for the sake of brevity let me pause by saying: Thanks for a great time of reminiscing and refreshment, particularly in a time where one is often inundated consistently with rather dismal and sobering news. Kudos to Rafii and The Iranian!

This being my first visit to The Iranian, I can not say enough to express my delight in discovering this sight! S

Alex Thomas
athomas@altamesa.net

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Thursday
Sept 17, 1998

* Bravo!

Wonderful ["The little emigre"]! Yasmine's story captures the essence of a budding young woman and the shock of cultural upheaval, and weaves these threads into a humorous and heartfelt story of growing up. Bravo, Yasmine.

Linda Novenski
takab@seanet.com

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* Obey rules

You sound like a man less traveled ["If you must know"]. Most countries around the world do not recognize dual citizenship - Iran's pre-revolution regime did not. In that case you must apply for a enterance visa, wich may take anywhere between one day to six months to be issued from the consulate of the country you are traveling to.

In contrast to many other countries, Iran's visa applications and informations sheets are written and organized. They may ask many questions, but do you blame a country with many enemies, to be more carefull about the background of the people who travel to that nation? You should have tried getting a visa from Israel and then you would have experienced not only difficult forms but rude and intrusive interview that follow.

Iranian officers at the Interest Section of the Islamic Repubic of Iran in Washington DC are courtious and polite. I have visited that office many times, and in the case of my military draft they even arranged for my exemption, when I did not even know about it.

I have witnessed people who became frustrated and yelled and screamed there, but it was because they would not follow the rules. In my many years of travel, one thing I have learned is that if you follow local rules, everything would follow easily. Just like mooshmooshak, "Aasteh raft, va Aasteh oomad".

Forootan
forootan@pegasus.rutgers.edu

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* Obey ALL rules? I don't think so

In reply to critics of my article, "If you must know," I agree that laws should be respected. But not all laws are good. Nor does it matter, as one letter writer suggested, that such bad laws constitute international norm. It is an interesting attribute of the Iranian psyche: When we see something in Iran we don't like, we either argue that "after all, this is Iran, not France" or, "It is even so in the U.S., or France" There is also a new excuse after the Revolution, "It wasn't like this during the Shah's time."

Thse are not necessarily the best way to think as concerned Iranian citizens. In essence, we are throwing our hands in the air and excusing our inaction. My concern is Iran and today. Respect for laws? Sure. But all laws? According to Iranian law, the punishment for adultery is getting stoned to death. Execution is also the punishment for those who convert from Islam to another religion. Shall we accept and respect these laws too? Do you accuse me of not loving my motherland as I speak out against them? The "norm" in the U.S. during the 50s and 60s was segregation between Whites and Blacks. Should we accuse those who stood against those laws as traitors and criminals who disrespected the law? I think not. I am not playing fair, as I took extremes for example. But hopefully you get the point.

A citizen has three basic choices in dealing with her country: (1) To not care what goes on, put her head down and follow only her best interest. (2) To take arms and create terror and violence against injustices or perceived injustices. (3) To engage in discussion and critique against what she thinks is not just. I have chosen the third option. That is a reflection of my love for Iran and the gheyrat I have for my motherland.

Siamak Namazi
siamak@erols.com

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Wednesday
Sept 16, 1998

* Still paying a price for isolation

While the Iranian government may have viewed the Taleban primarily as a threat to the Shia population, one must also recognize Tehran's efforts to bring on board other regional countries to help safeguard the interests of all Afghan minorities ["National interests come first"].

However, Russia's attention has been focused elsewhere and the former Soviet republics directly affected by events in Afghanistan could contribute little to stem the onslaught of the Taleban -- self-styled religious "scholars" with seemingly limitless funds to buy missiles, tanks and warplanes in an otherwise impoverished land.

Until recently, Iran believed it could persuade Pakistan to deliver the Taleban as partners in a coalition with Afghanistan's religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities. The folly of the Iranian foreign ministry's Afghan specialists, now much-maligned in the Iranian press, was to place too much trust in Islamabad. Pakistan's military and political leaders look to the U.S. and Saudi Arabia not merely as supporters of the Taleban but as their own benefactors as well. Moreover, Pakistan could offer its territory as a credible transit route for Central Asian oil and gas only on the back of a total Taleban victory.

After standing alone for nearly 20 years in a volatile region, Iran is still paying a price as it emerges from isolation. Few sovereign states share frontiers with so many countries -- seven land borders and twice that if the littoral states of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf are included. Most of her neighbors are grappling with varying degrees of instability, sometimes inspired by outside forces. But nearly all of them are bound by agreement to allies who would help thwart an uncompromising aggressor, if not on the battlefield, then at least in the diplomatic arena.

Iran needs to re-assess its relations with Pakistan and the Taleban must not easily be let off the hook for their atrocities. But to divert precious resources in a protracted Afghan campaign would only delight Iran's foes.

Kewmars Bozorgmehr
Kewbridge@compuserve.com

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* I hope one day...

[Regarding "Open Air"] how hard it is for the world's people to understand one another, and most of all to be tolerant of each other's beliefs and cultures. I only hope one day we will care for each other and respect one another no matter where we live or who we are.

William J. Herman
texasbill@bigpond.com

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Tuesday
Sept 15, 1998

* Lessons from Hitler's Germany

There is little doubt that a war in the region would not be to the benifit of any nation particularly Iran. However it is important to put some of the movements into historical perspective. British Prime Minister Chamberlin chose diplomatic routes in dealing with Hitler's Germany. He believed sacrificing another nation's sovereignty in order to protect the peace was the most appropriate option.

Iran should not engage in full-scale military strike against the Taliban because it will engulf the region in war. However, just as the U.S., it must reserve the right to protect its citizens and support the opposition forces.

Iranian missiles could easily be used in the form of limited strikes to pound Taliban strongholds and achieve political and strategic goals as well. The primary aim should be to warn the Taliban that any future "misbehavior" would not be tolerated and to give the opposition some breathing space.

Rostam Farhadieh
z2139152@student.unsw.edu.au

(Back to top)

* Don't be so emotional

This sort of attitude is why Iran is such a screwed up place ["We don't need this"].

Laleh Khalili writes: "And my heart bleeds. I awoke in a cold sweat last night, terror drowning me, my lungs crushed by distress. I enumerated in my head all those things that would cause me that much anxiety, and among them all, the only insurmountable burden was the thought of Iran going to war. I felt utterly helpless, utterly terrified."

What?! Stop being so damn emotional and extreme on every issue. There are real geopolitical reasons why the Iranian government is acting this way toward Afghanistan (and believe it or not, the diplomats are the tip of the iceberg). Let's try to be more rational in our next attempt at a political statement.

(No name)
publicpc@library.berkeley.edu

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* Khalili's reply: I do not condone injustices

Dear Ms. Aghamiri,

Thank you infinitely for your kind words. I just wanted to clarify a small point. I do not condone the injustices committed by the Taleban in Afghanistan. But I also believe that in that war (as in many others) there are no "good" or "just" sides. Rapes, murders, massacres, mutilations, and barbarism are committed by all.

The reason I don't find the Iranian government's protests agaisnt the Taleban valid is because I think it has more to do with Shi'a-Sunni schism and geopolitics rather than any particular discomfort at the manner in which the Taleban choose to interpret the Qoran. But thanks again for your comments and I am happy to say that as Iranians we are that much richer for having someone like you among us.

Laleh Khalili
LalehK@aol.com

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* Best news source

Your website is VERY impressive. I have been to several different sites offering news from the Middle East and I must admit, your site is by far the best.

Timothy Nite
Ohio, U.S.
Tenite2020@aol.com

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Monday
Sept 14, 1998

* No happier than chadoris

"Open Air" had a saddening effect on me. I think Ms Darznik has eloquently portrayed the plight of the typical confused Iranian girl in her little piece of "fiction."

The fact of the matter is, these supposedly happy (khosh-bakht) Iranian young females who have made it to the land of freedom and "golden" opportunities, no matter where they view themselves standing on the ladder of happiness, and whether they deny or confess to the fact that they finally need (in a broad sense of the word) a "shoowar," are no happier than their chador-clad sisters they have left behind in Iran.

Actually, in a sense, they are even less lucky than their Iran-laid sisters, who never had the chance to choose between opposing cultures. Confused Iranian men, can return and start over, even if they're past 50; at least in principle. No such luck for poor girls.

A.T.
userid@gwu.edu

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* We don't call this rape

I think the fact that her hijab was more important than her fidelity shows how these mollas and fanatic men have been brain-washing women who don't have a lot of education to understand the differeance covering yourself properly and the hijab [Iraj Mirza's poem].

Just because I don't wear hijab doesn't mean I am a bad person or a whore as the poem says, and she was not raped. She gave herself away while protecting her face from being seen by a naamahram.

Having sex is different. We don't call this rape. Rape is when you put up a fight with the one who is assaulting you but losing to his strength or his threat.

There was the time when I used to play tennis at the Taj tennis club in Vanak and this prostitute was there at least three days a week with her pimp. Right after the revolution the only thing that changed was her white outfit which was replaced with a black chador.

Nana Farshad
nana_farshad@hud.gov

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* What else do you expect?

Dear Ms. Khalili,

What we really don't need is an Islamic government in Iran ["We don't need this"]. This is what you and other good Iranians must spend the time to argue with a nation trapped in the hands of reckless and dangerous "clergymen". You should not bleed and be surprised by the actions of a government which takes pride in promotion of domestic and international terrorism. This Islamic Republic is a type of government in the history of humanity which holds a record for violations of basic human rights. What else do you expect from such government?

Arash Parsi
IRANEHMAN@aol.com

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Friday,
Sept 11, 1998

* Need to speak out against Taleban atrocities

I would like to thank Laleh Khalili for a beautifully written diatribe against war ["We don't need this"]. Her concern and her arguments against what appear to be impending hostilities between Iran and Afghanistan are well founded, and compassionately expressed. I am in the process of applying for Iranian citizenship on the basis of my marriage to an Iranian, and it deeply concerns me that my adopted country might go to war for any reason.

However, I take exception as a citizen of the world when she says that we should not speak out against the brand of "Islam" as practiced by the Taleban. I don't like hypocrisy and I trust others to see it when I do, but I see irony as a lesson, and when the Iranian government speaks out against the Taleban I believe there are many lessons in the making.

As a humanitarian, I believe that conscience has no boundaries. She says herself "I will be damned if I stay silent" and she speaks with commendable conviction and strength, she also writes from a position of privilege. She and I, if we lived in Afghanistan today, could not do what we do, could not be who we are, could not express ourselves this way. We would, quite literally be damned if we did not remain silent. To have rights, I must grasp my uncomfortable responsibility and bear witness for those who have none.

Where there is suffering of any kind we should speak out and do everything within our powers to alleviate it. Like Laleh Khalili, I do not believe that we can achieve our goals with aggression. Unlike her, I believe that we all (Iranian government included) have the right to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever we come across it.

The people of Afghanistan, and in particular the women, deserve our compassion and to hear our voices raised against the oppression under which they live. I was horrified at the Amnesty International report that the Iranian diplomats were murdered and left in the building without proper burial. I have also been horrified by the Amnesty

International reports where ordinary Afghanis have been shown mutilated and tortured in the name of Islam. It is our sad task to bear witness to these tragedies, and a burden of our freedom to speak out loudly against them.

By speaking out against these atrocities, we give the youth, our conscience, the opportunity to take full part in the future we insist on building for them. If their voices can be heard, they will not need to raise their fists. Only when we are denied the power of free speech, do we feel that we must we find other means to act.

The people of Iran have a tremendous gift to share with the outside world. They have been through revolution and war while in the West we have, for the most part, experienced peace and prosperity. We have become soft to the notion of war, and cynical enough to suggest it as an economic solution. But true pacifism is a hatred of war. I would relish the irony of a country thought to only solve its problems through violence, finding a solution to the current crisis through firm diplomatic dialogue and a sense of compassion. While others use more conventional weapons, we need to remember that an eye for an eye still makes the whole world blind.

I believe there is a will for peace, and a reason for peace and that should give us hope. But we must continue to bear witness and encourage others to do the same lest we are the ones who are branded privileged hypocrites. I look forward to reading more from Laleh Khalili and I do not think it is a coincidence that the first real political commentary I have read about Iran in The Iranian; (other than the news section) has been written by a woman.

Not in silence,

Galina Minou Aghamiri
bugfish@mci2000.com

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Thursday
Sept 10, 1998

* The past is still in me

I was just listening to the song "Aayeneh haa" by Farhad off the net. I was at his concert in San Francisco when I lived in the San Francisco's Bay Area. I cried then and I cried now. I am not sure why, but tears sometimes find their own way down.

It is 6:30 pm in a gloomy night in San Diego. I listened to the song while looking outside our office window which overlooks rolling hills and some other commercial buildings. It is a strange feeling listenting to certain songs that take you back; songs that are more than songs, they are deep, you are almost lost, perhaps lost in emothis which you just do not know how to define. I wonder if I am making any sense.

These songs sometimes bring out such strong feelings in me, feelings that I had forgotten I even had in me. Life's day to day rat race in America gets you away from so much that lies within you. The question is what do you gain by resurfacing these emotions? I am not sure, but along with sorrow, it also feels good. It feels good that I have so much within me, so much from the past that is still there.

Thanks to your efforts for making such moments possible.

Reza Mirkhani
reza.mirkhani@rss.rockwell.com

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* Such hyprocrisy!

And this is supposed to be a good thing ["Iranian-Americans donate to Clinton defense fuind"]? Bill Clinton, the liar, murderer, adultrer? What an honor to be associated with him! The same guy who calls Iran a terrorist nation? And you are proud of Iranians who suck up to this son of a bitch? Such hyprocrisy!

In your futile attempts to overthrow the Islamic Republic, you've decided to befriend your own enemy. Seriously, how DO you plan to overthrow the government? You can talk shit over the Net all you want and send all types of hate email but you know in your heart you will never succeed.

This revolution will be protected always by Allah (SWT) and Imam Mehdi (AS), so get over it. if you don't like the government fine but we don't need to see crap like this. you praise people who are puppets of this government and the goddamn Jews who run it.

Ali
a1i@hotmail.com

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Wednesday
Sept 9, 1998

* Rape victims' double loss

One can argue that the woman in [Iraj Mirza's poem] did not scream for help. But one must look at the time this poem is based on. Even in today's Iran, a rape victim is not simply looked at as a victim. The actual rape is looked as an effect and the rape victim as the cause. As a result, a rape victim loses in two ways. First is the fact that she is raped, and second she is punished if the word gets out.

Abbas Soltani
abbas@globalserve.net

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* Let's not dismiss his point

I had read [Iraj Mirza's poem] both as a teenager in Iran and as an adult after having lived in the U.S. for 15 years. And I must confess that in both instances "rape" was the last thing I would've thought of.

I won't try to argue whether this is or is not a rape case. Though I agree that technically speaking, and based on today's definition of rape in the U.S., this could very well qualify as rape: The girl did say "no", and intercourse did take place.

But I think Iraj Mirza was trying to make a different point, so let's not dismiss his point by simply rejecting him for the "rape." Before I get to his point however, let me bring up an example: Take the nude paintings of the renaissance era. Nudity in those paintings is supposed to portray purity and innocence, which is a good reason why they are all over the cathedral walls and ceilings in Europe. However, I bet in today's Iran those pictures are prohibited simply because of their nudity. Aren't they missing the point?

The "rape" interpretation of Iraj Mirza's poem is a very similar situation. The point he's trying to make is that the girl believed that being "najeeb" is having "chador & roobandeh" on at all times, regardless of her other actions. Iraj Mirza could've made the same point by describing a Haajee that prays five times a day and then "kolah sareh mardom mizareh." But since hejab was a hot topic in those days, his poem would've been more accepted through the hejab topic.

In any case, I'm glad poor Iraj Mirza is not alive today, or they would've given him life sentence for "rape"!

Babak Nabili
Irvine, California
babak.nabili@rss.rockwell.com

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Tuesday
Sept 8, 1998

* Acceptable form of enticement

The circumstance described in Iraj Mirza's poem about "The Veil" speaks to the nuances of courtship. In his day and age and, incidentally, not so many years ago, either, the woman's demeanor in the poem would have been viewed as a part of an acceptable form of enticement, a sort of a compromise between drive and refrain, wanting and not, attracting and repelling, tradition and free-wheeling abandon.

On the part of the male, the cajoling was expected to result ideally in an explosion of desire for him. On the part of the female, more often than not, the ideal of being wanted, chased, hunted, and loved would have ended in a hazy, vague memory of an encounter crowded with reminders of physical pain, shame, trauma, and psychological scars -- a wholly un- satisfying experience in retrospect, to say the least, even between to consenting parties -- much less between a brute and a struggling and misunderstood prey!

The poem may be about rape, or it may not. Regardless, when read from the point of view of Iraj Mirza's socio-political times and perspective, the poem is about hypocrisy -- not necessarily one driven by conflicting personal mores but by the ever so irreconcilable difference between the person's elan and the tribal or societal demand for decorum and restraint. In this tension, resides the poem's contemporary appeal. In the dark of the night thither, under the lights hither, what lies, I ask thee, under the drape of virtue? Hair long as the lasso? Lips colored red of shame? Brows plucked? Upper lips freed of shade? Hems above the ankle? Digits painted? Tired thighs? Aching end? Caved cheeks? Heels longing to pray? Burnt knees? Desire, but no will at all?

The veil, then and now, is the metaphor for discretion. And discretion should be negotiable between consenting adults. At some level, Iraj Mirza's poem is about negotiations, too.

Iraj Mirza was also an aficionado of the un-negotiated desire, the unresolved want, the tease. Here is my rough translation of Iraj Mirza's couplet about the virtue of auto-eroticism:

A needle's eye, I cannot thread,
A gate agape, I must dread,
Thank goodness for my hand,
Whose grip only I command.

Nobody asked, just this one person's opinion.

Guive Mirfendereski
Guive@aol.com

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* Ahead of his time

Iraj Mirza seems to have been ahead of his time. One can say that he looked at women as a sex object, but that would be a rather simplistic view of him.

I liked and appreciate his poem and his sarcastic remarks regarding the hijab. His view of human sexuality is more modern than his contemporaries and that makes him a very special person in our history.

Ozhang H. Karimi
ozhangk@redrose.net

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Friday,
August 28, 1998

* Clinton didn't swear he'd be a faithful husband

I would like to voice my support for President Clinton. I, also think he's the best U.S. president in recent history. He's the only one who is truly on the side of the less fortunate and minorities and has actually accomplished a lot in helping the neglected classes of this society. His work has caused a major shift in the job market from the defense industry to science and technology.

He's been a vocal supporter of gun control and has campaigned vigorously against assault weapons. He's worked very hard against tobacco companies and has hurt the tobacco industry in irreparable ways . He was the true pioneer of bringing welfare reform up to congressional debate which finally resulted in major changes in the way money was being dispensed to the recipients.

His presidency has also been very fruitful for Blacks as their standard of living has improved quite noticeably. Economy is great, employment is up, inflation is down, interest rates are down. The strong gun lobbyist and tobacco lobbyist are infuriated with this guy's success. They were recently joined by a powerful pro-Israel lobbyist since Clinton committed his most unforgivable sin (his recent tough stance against Israel for not relinquishing territories to the Palestinians). On top of all that his wife recently said in a speech that she also believes that Palestinians need a homeland.

Clinton has much more respect in the rest of world than Reagan and Bush ever did. My friends how many more reasons do Republicans need to hate a Democrat?

Well, he has had an affair. I don't think this was his first time and probably won't be the last either. First of all many other people in power have committed adultery and other forms of perversion. Secondly, this is between him and his family. He should not be obligated in any way to explain his personal behavior to the public.

When he swore to run this country, he never swore that he would be a faithful husband. Nobody ever said the president should be a perfect husband . I think he should only be judged by his achievements as a president. After all this I have to say my favorite president of all time, is President Khatami for whom I have the utmost respect.

Mehrdad Koohian
Mehrdad@softrepair.com

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* Religion & intellectualism: No contradiction

While I enjoyed the photographs ["In spite of"], I take offense to a comment in the accompanying text. The Iranian people were described as "religious but intellectual." It may suprise you to know that many people find no contradiction in these characteristics.

W. Cullen
cullenw@washpost.com

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* Change the alphabet

The question of usage of Arabic or Latin alphabet is not about politics or we Iranians being slaves to another culture ["Eenjoori Beneveeseem?"]. The issue is about two different parts, first what we Iranians outside Iran should do and second part is what Iran and other Persian-speaking countries should do.

We Iranians outside the country have the opportunity to improve our language without the barriers that exist in our country. This means that by careful planing we are able to make it easier for ourselves and our children by changing the alphabetic system. Every book can be "translated" to the new system and it makes it very easy and economical for us.

The only "bad side" of this is that the next generation of Iranians abroad will be unable to read and write Arabic alphabet, which will be the case anyway because most of them will never learn it anyway.

By improving the language I mean changing from a consonant alphabet that "only" puts down the consonants and its right to left letters and left to right numbers, to a more logical and easier way of doing things. The only arguments that have stopped us from doing that is:

1. Our ancestors have done and therefore it MUST be right

2. We have a treasury of literature that will be lost this way

3. We will not be able to read the Koran

I personally find the above unacceptable. We still can have the old alphabet left for artistic and cultural reasons. Changing the alphabet in Iran is nearly impossible. They would surly say that it would be pro-Western and anti-Islamic, whatever that means.

I think by changing the alphabet we even make the Persian closer to its family, the indoeuropean.

Keyhan Hadjari
Stockholm, Sweden
edtkhad@al.etx.ericsson.se

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Thursday
August 27, 1998

* Latinized Persian self-defeating

I read the letter sent to The Iranian Times promoting the idea of changing our alphabet, with incredulity and dismay. It seems that the person proposing this change has not taken much time to consider the ramifications of his idea, even just for the expatriate community. Language and alphabet are to a large extent symbiotic, and nowhere is this most visible than in an Iranian bookstore, where the most cherished volumes are books of poetry written by famous calligraphers whose writing enhances the beauty of the spoken word.

If language is to be a means of communication, and of "staying in touch" with our culture, changing the alphabet defeats that purpose. Our children, in the expatriate community, will be utterly handicapped either in accessing the wealth of 1400 years of prior literary achievement, or in accessing current literature. Those who have taken the time to learn the language will be unable to read a menu or a street sign if they ever actually venture to Iran, and will therefore feel even more foreign in the land of their forefathers.

Before considering such a radical move, maybe we should look at Turkey, and see how we would like going to our mosques/libraries/historical places or to look at an exhibition of old manuscripts and master pieces of our ancestors without having a clue as to what is written there. As an expatriate community, we will naturally slowly lose our connections to Iran and especially current developments of Iranian culture. We should hesitate to accelerate that process, or to make it more difficult for those of our children who take the challenge of developing a connection to their roots.

Ali Shaibani.
shaibani@hotmail.com

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* Clinton is the best ever

I am writing this to let you know President Clinton is the greatest of all presidents this country [U.S.] has ever had. He is the only one who is on the side of poor and working class  people.

If he made a mistake, that is his private life and should be no one's business. I support him 100% and I would have voted for him if it was possible for him to run again. We Iranians must stand by him and defuse Republican plots to trash him so they can control the Congress for another two years.

Joe B.
pars34@earthlink.net

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Wednesday
August 26, 1998

* Pre-Islamic text

I am an Anglo-American who is fond of Persian culture and history, especially pre-Islamic Iran. I was interested in the comments regarding the Persian alphabet.

It is undeniable that the reason the Perso/Arabic script is used in Iran for the last 1300 years is because of the Arab conquest of the 7th Century. I can understand how Iranians would feel about replacing the Arabic script with the Latin (probably the way the Turks felt in the 1920's). This has historical, cultural and religious elements to it.

However, I was wondering about the pre-Islamic script used in Iran, which I believe was of Aramaic origin. I would like to know if anyone can give me any information on that script, especially Pahlavi, and if the Zoroastrians still use it for religious purposes.

Perhaps Iranians trying to get in touch with their pre-Islamic past, might consider at the very least resurrecting the ancient script, if for no other reason, then at least to feel that there was indeed a glorious written history for Iran long before there was an Arab invasion of Iran.

Steven B. Simpson
stevenbsimpson@yahoo.com

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* Let's paint our faces milky white, too

My eyes could not believe what they see. I do not get shocked easily but well done, you managed it rather well. Changing our ancestors' language, what next?

You are trying to justify your remarks by saying "I think by changing the alphabet we even make the Persian closer to its family, the indoeuropean." Do you really think we will ever become European? Oh I have got a suggestion too, in order to chievie the goal of being indo-EUROPEAN faster, why not change our names, paint our faces with milky dyes? And why not take another step closer, let us to dye our hair as well. Then we will truly be closer to indo-EUROPEAN family.

Dear sir, I have two children too, but they know how to read and write FARSI. Yes it is FARSI not PERSIAN. After all, PERSIAN is the result of GREEK influence, and IRAN was not formed after World War II. As FERDOWSI says, "Cho Iran nabashad .........".

Dear hamvatan, let us not to be dominated by the culture of believing that everything WESTERN is GOOD. Iran has a great culture, which is the envy of many nations, and I strongly believe she will soon find her true status in the world.

Ebrahim Naderali
E.K.Naderali@liverpool.ac.uk

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* We dance

A favorite stop on my frequent stroll through The Iranian Times is your music page. And when my little girl (all of two-and-a-half years old) is watching over my shoulder, she can't wait till I get to Aghassi. We dance as he sings his bandari songs.

Reza Shadmehr
reza@bme.jhu.edu

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Tuesday
August 25, 1998

* Maybe they give to the poor, too

Maryam Gharavi and Sharare Soleymani may not agree with the wisdom of contributing to the Clinton legal defense fund by the five prominent Iranian-Americans, but in their rush to judgement they display a glaring lack of reasoning and logic.

Gharavi and Soleymani say that these donors should have given the money to the hungry and the poor instead. The question is how do the ladies know that these people do not also contribute to all sorts of charitable causes? Isn't it possible for at least one of these Iranian-Americans to be a generous benefactor to the poor and the dispossessed, in this country or in Iran? Or, are the ladies arguing that nobody should make any kind of donation but to charity?

Ms. Gharavi and Ms. Soleymani may not like what these five Iranian-Americans have done in this particular instance, but they should not criticize nor find fault with the five for exercising their constitutional right.

Kourosh 'Cyrus' Homayounpour
cyrus@nucea.edu

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* Clinton was framed

I am writing this letter to comment on Ms. Maryam Gharavi, Ms. Sharare Soleymani and Mr. Jim Bower: I don't think president [Clinton] is corrupt. I think he was framed. He had a weakness and the Republicans took advantage of it and framed him.

I think all the politicians are corrupt, except this one [President Clinton] got caught. Look back at history. Every powerful figure had some dirty laundry, but this one was displayed.

This is embarrassing for him and for the country, but his personal life has nothing to do with how he has been running the country and as they say, look at the big picture: The economy hasn't been any better and I think that's what the American people are looking at. 

People also have the right to do what ever they want with their money and I think the people who donated money did it for a good cause.

Roya Sadat
royas@neopath.com

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Monday
August 24, 1998

* Helping a guilty president

I was disappointed to read about the five "prominent" Iranian-Americans who donated thousands of dollars to a fund set up to help President Clinton's legal defense. It saddens me to think that our countrymen would donate such a large sum of money to a man they know is guilty of the charges against him.

Of course, it is their money and they can spend it freely on whatever they like. But to think that there are children starving in our own country and countries around the world who could have had their lives changed by just a fraction of this sum is frightening.

Maryam Gharavi
marghar@hotmail.com

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* I'm not proud

Doesn't the president of the United States have enough money to take care of his mess himself?

Those Iranians who donated thousands of dollars to Mr.Clinton, should have made a smarter choice and donated this money to the hungry people of Iran or other parts of the world.

This should not be top news in The Iranian Times. I'm certainly not proud of what they've done!

Sharare Soleymani
SSOLEYMANI@BICS.BWH.HARVARD.EDU

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* Most corrupt president

Gotta wonder why you people are supporting the most corrupt president in American history.

Jim Bower
jimbower@sprintmail.com

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Friday,
Sept 4, 1998

* Farsi alphabet is easy

I noticed several letters in your magazine regarding the question of using transliteration rather than Arabic script for the benefit of those learning Farsi.

In my opinion, it does not take much effort to master the Arabic/Persian characters for the purposes of reading Farsi. The hard part is learning the language and building vocabulary. As the Arabic/Persian characters are inherently phonetic there is no benefit to using the contrived transliteration schemes except for ease of printing documents.

The excellent "Elementary Persian Grammar" by L.P. Elwell-Sutton (Cambridge University Press) pounds the alphabet into the student from the get go.

Brad Hernlem, Ph.D.
alihernlem@hotmail.com

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* Not all men are pigs

I was really moved by reading this very emotional article ["Mommy's Boy"]. If Shahin claims he is not a writer, may be he should become one. It was very refreshing to hear an Iranian male admitting to be a "mommy's boy." But the fact is no matter what age we are or who we are deep inside, we all are "mommy's boy" or in my case "daddy's girl." That is if their characters had a big influence in our mind or soul and we have learned things from them all through of our lives.

It is obvious that Shahin's mom had a very strong character and she is going to live in Shahin forever and probably even in Shahin's future children. I am so glad men like Shahin exist. He appreciates her mother's important role in the family and admits even though she was a simple woman, she was able to give him the support and love he needed and taught him the art of living.

If I were Shahin I would leave everything and would rush to Iran too. Because I think nothing is worth more than the time you spend with your loved ones.

I always thought all men are pigs and I thanked god for not having any sons, but today after I read your true and honest emotions about your mother I think differently. May be I shouldn't be so pessimistic about all men. Thanks for your wonderful article.

Fariba
FARIBijan@aol.com

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Thursday
Sept 3, 1998

* Finally, Baskerville the film

I am very happy to see that someone finally is considering a film on Howard Baskerville ["Iran's American Martyr"]. I have been pleading for years with filmmakers and have found no takers.

I published a book on the Constitutional period two years ago, "The Iranian Constitutional Revolution" (Columbia University Press, 1996) and the book includes a chapter on the Civil War of Azerbaijan which you might want to read.

Your piece had one problem: the conspiracy theory. Baskerville was an officer of a group of elite young men in Tabriz, while Sattar Khan and Baqir Khan were commanders of the whole resistance army.

No one, to my knowledge (including M. A. Moore) has ever suggested that Sattar Khan and his men deliberately shot Baskerville to get Western attention. This is contrary to all he and others stood for and it is a grave injustice to the memory of these men and women who steadfastly protected the lives of the Westerners among them to the end.

The controversy is that in one of the last battles, when the city of Tabriz was starved, many were dying from hunger, and Russian forces were about to invade, Sattar Khan did not send a second back up force to protect Baskerville and his men and some have blamed him for that.

Janet Afary
Associate Professor of History
Purdue University
afary@purdue.edu

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Monday
August 31, 1998

* Respect the laws of your motherland

I'm writting to you regarding Mr. Namazi's article titled "If you must know". It does make it easier to travel with a U.S. passport. Therefore you have a valid point. Personal experience: I visited Iran after close to 20 years in the U.S. All I can say is that going through immigration and customs was much easeir and friendlier at Mehrabad airport than it was at J.F.K (i.e. New York airport).

The forms that are required by the Interests Section of Iran in Washington are very well justified and appropriate. Didn't you have to fill out any forms to obtain your Green Card? Don't we all have to tell our life story to the Internal Revenue Service every April 15th?

Conclusion: If you consider yourself Iranian and love your motherland you should have no problem respecting the laws of that land. I'm sure there are improvements to be made. But we should be fair and objective rather than complaining all the time.

Amir Wagheei
AWAGHEEI@aol.com

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* Bamouthing

Dear Mr. Namazi, bravo on your article regarding the Iranian Interests Section in Washington DC ["If you must know"]. I'm sure you, like many other Iranians who are ashamed of being Iranian, have once again succeeded to badmouth your own people, your own land, and your own government (whether good or bad) in front of people who really don't give a hoot about you or I.

Joe
Ocmike1@aol.com

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