BBC: Story of the revolution

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Shahin & Sepehr


Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Advertise with The Iranian

August 2-6, 1999 / Mordad 11-15, 1378


* Airline abuse
- Good approach

- No visa needed IF...
- Magical realism


* Eclipse:
- Very, very, very, very
- Allah knows best

- Yeah right
The Iranian:
- Distasteful

* Politics:
- Beravim aadam beshavim!
- Cheshemun kur

- Passionate feelings
* Jews:
- No harm in defending minorities

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August 12, 1999

* Good approach

I myself have not so suffered ["Airline abuse"], but I encourage you in this approach as I am sure many who could not speak good enough English to defend themselves, have.

Shahram Chubin

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* No visa needed IF...

Iranians don't need a transit visa if they have a Green Card or an American passport ["Airline abuse"]. Otherwise they need a transit visa.

Reza Jamshidi

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* Magical realism

I have received several very kind letters from your readers about my short story "The Boy Who Invaded my Life," some requiring an answer. However, another crash of my computer has wiped out the letters, but I remember enough of the texts to give general answers to their questions.

My story is a "story," made up of the fragments of truth about life, so no one should seek "historical" truth from that. Fiction is a work of art that reflects life as it could be, whereas history reflects it as it was (or, is). So, a writer can do a great deal to manipulate human life, the life blood of fiction, and speculate about what would happen, given a set of circumstances, and often it can be an indicator of the future, a sort of a blue print. Then, no one should assume that this story is the story of my life. But, if it has stimulated the deeper feelings of your readers (at least, seven of them!), then there must be some inherent truth behind the story, and that is the way it should be. I am well pleased! One of your readers is correct: this fiction echoes Garcia Marquez and his "magical realism."

Therefore, since the story is told as a matter of fact, the reader must supple the meaning for the closing of the passageway in the story and the mysterious boy, whose name, by the way, means, "kind and warm-hearted." Another reader correctly indicates that the story has been filtered twice from the points of views of two narrators. But, it is also filtered from the point of view of the translator, so that, if there was a "real" limited base to the story, it is expanded into a universal truth through the added points of views. I didn't want to lecture on this, but here it is.

Four people have asked about my background--shouldn't my background stand far away from the story? The artist and his art are two separate entities. Never mind that--I was born in Tabriz and my early education took place in Tehran. I came to the United States as a Fulbright fellow and finished my Ph.D. and Post-doctoral work and taught for 30 years, first here, then as a Visiting Professor in Sweden. I have created a modest amount of work, but the story published in The Iranian is my first attempt to incorporated my background in my art.

One person has asked for a hard copy of the story. I will include this story in my collection of short stories that I am preparing for regular publication. Most of these stories have a "Persian" connection. I am sure it will be reviewed in The Iranian when the book is published. Thank you for your efforts and time to write me about your feelings. I am sorry that I am unable to write directly and thank you personally; please take this as a personal expression of my gratitude .

Reza Ordoubadian
Professor of English

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August 11, 1999

* Beravim aadam beshavim!

Amin-e aziz, bahaat do kalaam harf-e hesaab daaram:

man ham mesl-e to dar saal-haaye bist-e zendegi-am hastam. az doraan-e gozasht-e ham tajrobeh-ye ziaadi nadaaram, gheyr az aan chizi keh dar ketaab-haaye taarikh khaandeh-am, aan ham saansur nashodeh, beh zabaani gheir az faarsi!

avval-e ham-e inke, gofti khaak bar sar-e maa keh enghelaab kardim". azizjaan khodat raa ghaati nakon! in to va maa naboodim keh enghelaab kardim. in pedaraan va madaraan-e maa boodand keh chenin faribi khordand va az yek mamleket-e baa aabero, baa heysiat va pishro yek chenin kharaabeh-ee saakhtand va haalaa ham daarand beh esm-e sarzamin-e maadari beh nasl-e baad tahvil midahand.

ghalat-kardam-haaye yek seri siaasatmadr-haa, haalaa keh beh hoosh aamadeh-and, digar baraay-e man va to mamlekat nemishavad -- aab-ee bud keh rikht va digar nemishavad jamesh kard.

amaa yek chiz raa bedaan! Iran maal-e maast! tasavvor nakon keh bist saal-e digeh jomhuri-ye eslaami-ee vojood khaahad daasht! maa ers-e pedari ro pas khaahim gereft. amaa na baa yek enghelaab-e shureshi balkeh baa yek enghelaab-e darooni. yani ink-e maa baayad beravim kaari raa bekonim keh naasl-e pedaraan-e maa nakard: beravim aadam beshavim!

zood-baavar nabaashim, morusi ham din va yaa hich tarz-e tafakkori raa ham bedon-e motaale-eye taarikh-e aan napazirim. kholaaseh inke:

1- farzandaan-e zahhaak beh khodiy-e khod beh zobaaledaani-ye taarikh khaahand peyvast -- dir yaa zood daareh amaa sukht-o-suz nadaareh.

2- nasle jadid beh pedar va maadaresh negaah mikoneh va sa'y khaahad kard keh aan chizi keh aan-haa budand nabaash-e.

3- maa Iran ro khaahim saakht, baa inkeh chiz-e ziaadi az on baaqi namaandeh, vali khob behar jahat in mamlekat ers-e ajdaadi-ye maast nah maal-e a'raab.

4- Iran naabood nashodani ast!


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* Very, very, very, very

These clippings were very, very, very, very interesting ["Oh, the life of a rock star"]. There are few things I enjoy more than reading first-person accounts of foreigners' (especially Americans') experiences in Iran. It's like the Lonely Planet series on the Discovery Channel.

Nariman Neyshapouri

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August 10, 1999

* Allah knows best

After reading the article "Who are we kidding?" I realized the lack of understanding towards Islam that was expressed. The Islamic system, in its ideal form, was the form of government that ruled from Spain to China for hundreds of years.

Spain's Islamic government lasted a good 700 years before the Christian invasion. During this period, Spain entered its golden age. Europeans and Jews flocked to take advantage of the freedoms, tolerance, and education available no where else in Europe.Islamic Spain is also the seed where the Renassaince blossomed from. When students went home to the dark Europian societies after graduating from the advanced Islamic universities, they wore the long Islamic garb. That is how the west recieved the idea for the gown and tassled cap tradition for our graduation ceremonies.

Islam is a religion of tolerence, learning, freedom and above all, the religion ordained by Allah. Iran, in its attempt at a modern theocracy, should be given a chance to grow into fruition. Political upheaval is healthy for the country, not the other way around. Islamic government has already outlasted any other system of government with human doctrains and laws. We look at democracy as the ideal system, yet understand it still as a human concept, not a divine one. And Allah knows best.

Democracy and "freedom" in the West are borderline anarchy. We see the complete moral collapse of human beings, and as Muslims, are we supposed to see that as the "best way"? How is holding hands with one's "girlfriend" on a street in Tehran freedom? Is getting her pregnant a freedom too? How about the freedom of expression? Is badmouthing an Imam or slandering Islam a freedom? No, no and no. These are paths to moral decay, the same kind we see in the West. In these cases, freedom is slavery.

In working with the Islamic government in Iran, one has to be able to speak the language of the mollas. Rioting in student demonstrations is not an effective way.

For women to play sports in public is going to be hard when you have protect your dignity (keeping the hijab on). But Rafsanjani's daughter realized the importance of womens health. She approached the mollas with the idea of the first Islamic Games for Women in Iran. She cited the hadith that all "Muslims should have strong bodies", male and female. In the end she found a true freedom that is in accordinance with the law of Allah. And Allah knows best.

How many of these students actually picked up a book on Islamic Law and seriously tried to compare it to democracy? Look at Islamic Spain and compare it to the moral collapse of the U.S. After living in the U.S. for so long, one can only see the backwardness of that country compared to the dignity Allah wants us to have in his Islamic Law.

Kazem Mansouri

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* Yeah right

To answer the letter "Women in Islam", Farina you are a retarded girl if in the 20th century you think about the hijab. How could you say Islam gives rights to women? I can say those rights were good enough for their time -- 1400 years ago -- but not now.

In Islam does one woman equal one man? In my country a mother doesn't have the right to bring up her own child after divorce. (Yeah right! Heaven is beneath her feet!). Women don't have the right to divorce but men can divorce any time they want and so on. Is that equality? Good for your religion!

By the way if you really like Islamic countries why don't you go back to your country and enjoy your freedom there? please read some books and try to think instead of repeating stuff that your grandparents told you.


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August 9, 1999

* No harm in defending minorities

Mr. Ali Akbar Mahdi's piece ["Harmful favoritism"] on the response of Western governments and media to the arrest of 13 Iranian Jews was well researched, yet a bit naïve in its arguments. Mr. Mahdi complains and asks: "Why do the Western media and Jewish groups fail to mention the others among this group [of arrested Iranians]?" What he fails to realize is that the only reason anyone is talking about the arrest of Jews in Iran--or any other country in the world for that matter--is the well organized lobby of the Jewish people. Due to the centuries-long anti-Semitism and genocide experienced by the Jews, they have developed a highly united front in defending their people worldwide.

The Jews and Israel have gone through amazing lengths to free their cohorts in the past. Who could forget the deal Israel made with the Marxist government of Ethiopia in the 1980s, when they literally traded weapons for Jews? Cargo planes would fly weapons from Tel Aviv to Addis Ababa, and the same planes would in turn transport thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. If the followers of any other religion or ethnicity in Iran (or any other country) had one-tenth of the concern, unity and organization that the Jews have in favor of their people, you can be sure that we would hear about the rest of the folks persecuted and in jail in Iran more often.

New York City is full of Jews. The majority is educated, and if some even don't believe in God, they never the less care about their fellow Jews in trouble in any part of the world--whether it be Ethiopia, Russia or Iran. Can we say the same thing about the Iranian community? Much of the Iranian diaspora is either totally apathetic to events in Iran or hates this group or that group of Iranians (as can be discerned from occasional hate letters to the The Iranian) and would not come to the defense of an individual or group who may not share their peculiar political or religious affiliation. In the majority of cases, however, Jews will help each other no matter what their extent of political differences. (Its interesting to note that Jews have been helping others as well. During the Civil Rights era in the 1960s in the United States, a very large proportion of the white Americans marching alongside Martin Luther King's followers were Jews. And during the Kosovo crisis of 1999, Israel accepted some Muslim Kosovar families as refugees and currently at least one American Jewish organization has set up medical clinics for Muslims and Christians in the Balkans.)

A more important mistaken stance held by Mr. Mahdi is his complaint about the Western governments and media in what he writes as their "overblown reaction to a case that is not yet determined (as if all these 13 Jews [currently jailed in Iran] are already convicted and about to be put to execution) " If I may say so, that is such a lame criticism! What does Mr. Mahdi expect the Jewish diaspora and their friends to do? Wait until the dead bodies of their Iranian colleagues are delivered to their relatives (as has been done many-a-time by the Iranian regime with other "counter-revolutionaries"), and then publicize and complain about their arrests AND executions?! As most human rights organizations would concur, the more publicity is shed on cases of presumed prisoners of conscience, the more likely is for the regime holding such prisoners to treat them better and at the minimum not execute them. However, it goes without saying that the appeals to the governments have to be polite and void of name-calling.

Mr. Mahdi should not get me wrong. I too wish that the Western press and governments would publicize the cases of all people arrested on unsubstantiated charges in Iran whether they be Jewish, Muslim, Bahai, Christian, Zoroastrian, Kurd, communist, agnostic or atheist. But let's not forget that the media and governments react to their constituents. In the real politik world, it is safe to posit that the amount of concern shown by the western media and governments to such injustices worldwide is directly proportional to the existence of active grass root efforts urging them to do so. Having learnt from history, the Jews have such organized lobby and grass-roots advocacy groups, united in favor of their people. Our reaction should not be to criticize the effort of the Jews or the media and governments they influence. We should rather commend them, befriend them, and emulate the unity and organization they hold, and try to implement our new-found knowledge in defending the Iranian community as a whole.


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* Passionate feelings

The article by Reza Razavi ["Who are we kidding?"] was actually an article I could read and understand very clearly. He is an excellent writer. I'm a journalist myself, and I always look for stories that can have the passionate feelings in the writings and can directly hit me through my mind and heart, simultaneosly. Rezavi did just that! Hope to read more of his articles soon.

Asally Adib

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August 6, 1999

* Cheshemun kur

goftegoo-ye shomaa raa dar The Iranian khoundam ["It's the civil society, stupid"]. khodam raa dar har do nafar shenaakham. man chand ruz pish az tehraan aamadam va jelo-ye khaabgaah-e daaneshgaah budam ["The spark"], do ruz ba'd az hamleh-ye ansaar-e hezb-e sheytaan -- beh qol-e khod-e daaneshju-haa.

man do taa nazar daaram:

1 - mardom digeh hoseley-e enghelaab nadaarand vali agar ozaay-e eqtesaadi avaz nashavad shuresh-haaee anjaam khaahad gereft. goftam shuresh nah enghelaab.

2- khaak bar sar-e maa keh enghelaab kardim cheshemun kur , chubesh ra baayad bokhorim taa dasteh va kunemunam besuzeh keh digeh az in ghalataa nakonim. albateh man 22 saalameh va 10 saaleh keh faraanseh hastam va faqat een aakhund-haa raa didam.

hezbolaahi-haa va basiji-haa hanuz chehreyeh vaghe-eeye khodeshun ra neshun nadaadan. khaahim did keh inhaa cheqadr heyvaan hastan. dar ayande shuresh khaye andjam khanad ghereft va een heyvaan-haa baa komak-e rohaniyun-e qom shuresh-haa raa betor-e vahshiyaaneh sarkub khaahand kard. pas khatami raast amal mikoneh cheraa keh midun-e inhaa cheqadr vahshi hastand.


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* Distasteful

I find your welcome page very distasteful. Also a moving eyeball is not a very pleasing and tasteful sight to behold.

Ali Abrishami

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