August 30-September 3, 1999 / Shahrivar 8-12,
- Smoke or fire?
- Shah let people hold hands
- Insulting you-know-who
- Very ordinbary
- Farsi: wrong and ugly
- Can men cook rice?
- Cat out of the bag
- Skin color
- What we value
- Like father like daughter
August 27, 1999
* Smoke or fire?
I think the conclusions of the author ["Culture
of Karbala"] are rather one dimensional and overly generalizing.
1- In respect to culture of martyrdom, we Iranians or shi'ites are not
alone in our praise of martyrs, by any standard. Every culture has its
own martyrs upheld as archetypes. Christianity's praise of martyrdom starts
with Jesus and continues with St. Peter. African Americans revel in martyrdom
of ML King and Malcolm X. Even JFK is considered by some to be a martyr,
and his disciples are not shi'ites! And furthermore, how is praising archetypes/martyrs
a sign of rejecting modernism?
2- The recent student movement in Iran did not represent Shi'ites vs.
others (i.e. Sunnis, Moguls, Arabs, etc.) as Hossein's odyssey across Karbala
did. It was political in-fighting brought onto streets by supporters of
each side. This was not a revolution. This was actually closer to the fight
of Ali vs. Omar over leadership of Islam which led to the rise of Abu-Bakr,
but let's not get into that!
The first step leading to a revolution is the deterioration of legitimacy
of a state in the perception of the people it rules. IRI is still considered
the legitimate heir to a legacy set in motion by Ayatollah Khomeini. The
only attack against the legitimacy of the IRI from within the Iranian people
(the 97% that don't live in affluent suburbs) came when the concept of
Velayat-e-faqih was openly challenged by some of the demonstrators. This
challenge was quickly hushed even by opponents of the hard-liners in Iran,
further enforcing the legitimacy of the regime.
Let's not confuse smoke with fire.
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* Shah let people hold hands
In response to Kazem Mansouri's letter "Allah
knows best", I suppose getting a girl pregnant when you aren't
ready is certainly not a good idea. But preventing one from being able
to do such a simple thing as hold hands to express love is certainly an
invasion of one's deepest, most sacred rights.
You speak of freedom as if it was something that has boundaries. And
who are you to decide what is "divine" and what is "human?"
Where do you get your information from? The mollas who pound ideals of
Islam-e aziz into every Iranians head, everyday?
You seem to forget that before the revolution, these same mollas were
living in abject poverty and giving a sermon to whoever threw a few rials
at their feet. Today, they are taking the hard earned money of the Iranian
people and putting into their Swiss bank accounts, like the Shah of old.
At least that scumbag of a Shah let people hold hands and walk down the
Iranians are living in a society that is against free speech, freedom
of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of sex, and in short, freedom
of LIFE. You harbor no ideas derived from yourself, but borrow morals,
ideals, and even a borrowed God taken from the Arabs, sit and type out
what freedom should mean to the people. We cannot let these complete idiots
decide what is best for US anymore.
We used to be the most progressive, innovative people on earth under
the Achaimenids and Sassanians. These laughable, ignorant peoples who still
believe that you have no right to think and do freely are trying to drag
Iranians down to the pits of blind faith, where anything a Muslim says
goes, and everything else is heretical. They are trying to put MUSLIM before
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September 2, 1999
* Insulting you-know-who
First of all I must commend you on the quality of your work. It is truly
refreshing to see writing of quality and content within a liberal framework
where everyone gets the opportunity to contribute. However, dAyi Hamid's
article on Iranian women ["Loving
an Iranian girl"] is demeaning and insulting to all of us. Even
though I love satire and have enjoyed his sometimes controversial quotes,
I believe he has gone too far in his generalisations.
His comments may be a reflection of himself more than the subjects he
calls Iranian women. As a man who was married to an Iranian woman and subsequently
divorced because she was a pain in the you-know-what, and has had plenty
of other relationships, I still would never allow myself to generalise
as Hamid did, especially in the context of a satirical column.
Writing and getting published is a privilege and a writer of any stance
has a duty toward the society. But to be judgemental the way Hamid has
been is very immature and his comments reveal a man of many shortcomings,
to compensate for which he has chosen Iranian women and his many (!!) superficial
I was in Switzerland only last week and I met many Iranian girls. they
were coping as well as they could in their new country. Just like all of
us, they were not perfect. And it would be futile to expect them to have
maintained their chastity in the traditional and highly questionable old
Hypocrisy has always exsisted in our society, but that covers men as
equal, if not more than, women. the Iranian girls residing overseas are
subject to the same social forces and influences that the average non-Iranian
girls. They should not be expected to behave much differently. But they
actually do. I believe they can maintain their head way up high if compared
to the average Iranian man. I still would never marry one again, since
I still consider most of them a pain in the you-know-what. But that's another
I therefore hope that as a very well-read publication, you are more
selective in your choice of articles. The implications with which Hamid's
article is riddled with is not much different to other insulting and socially
unacceptable behaviour as anti-Semitism, anti-Bahai or racial prejudice
which are not allowed easy publication in any democracy.
PS: Tell Hamid that next time I'm in Switzerland, I'll look him up!
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* Very ordinbary
khaastegaari" story was very flat; nothing special happened, in
my opinion. The writer does not have a purpose or conclusion except other
than sharing her experience which was very oridinary.
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September 1, 1999
* Like father like daughter
Personally, I would like to thank you for writing this article ["A bitter
bite"]. I must admit that not unlike some friends you have mentioned,
I have also become somewhat accustomed to, or numbed by, these breaches
of ethical boundaries in Iranian cinema. But your article did remind me
of the strong pangs of unease I felt during Salaam Cinema. This is a tall
tale, and I find that ethical concerns are usually the most troublesome
to convey ...
The technique of blurring the line between fiction and documentary which,
if I am correct, Kiarostami first used in his films, and was then taken
on by Mohsen Makhmalbaaf to newer, more creative heights, has managed to
blur another parallel line - between what is ethical and un-ethical ...
Mohsen Makhmalbaaf has evolved in many ways during the years. But ethical
evolution takes much more time than the ideological one. In Samira Makhmalbaf's
Apple I sensed the strong presence of her father throughout the film. This
influence can of course be both positive and negative in the work of the
daughter. She is all too young for it to be otherwise. But it would seem
that it takes if not a complete, but at least a serious break from the
ways of the previous generation, to set one on an independent path of growth
and discovery, and perhaps, more evolution ... FULL
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* Farsi: wrong and ugly
Please change all the words "Farsi"'s in your English text
to "Persian". According to Encyclopaedia Iranica scholors and
also those at University of Tehran, it is wrong to use "Farsi"
in English. In my opinion it is also ugly since it is an Arabic word replacing
the pretty word of Persian. Please promote this recommendation to all the
media that unknowingly use Farsi instead of Persian.
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August 31, 1999
* Can men cook rice?
I enjoyed reading your article in The Iranian ["Rice,
Iranian style"], even though I was warned (feminist?) not to read
I found a lot of similarities in my own life. Every night straight to
the kitchen after work and most of the time cooking rice. Here in my home
everybody thinks preparing rice with a rice cooker is just fine (under
cover work has been done!). Also my friend calls when it is time to wash
dishes, so I get away from it (organized feminism?!).
The main difference between us is that when I was twenty, surprisingly,
I did not want to change the world. Now, my only concern is your son. When
he grows up you could call him and ask him what he is cooking for dinner.
Is it realistic to expect this from a man?
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* Cat out of the bag
Just wanted to tell you that I liked the piece you wrote in defense
of the Jews ["I
must be a Jew"]. Its about time the cat come out the bag!
How can we Iranians claim we deserve a democracy back in our motherland
when even overseas we have our prejudices against this group or that group!?
When people like you shed light on anti-Semitism and prejudice, in time,
it helps the whole Iranian community to think about this issue and hopefully,
someday, do away with prejudice all togeter.
So, keep up the good work!
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August 30, 1999
* Skin color
I'm a 16-year-old Native American, from South Dakota, U.S.A, and I just
wanted to say you have a great site.
I also wanted to tell you that I read the story ["Oil,
mean people, dark skin, terrorism"] on the kids that were asked
to write down, or say out loud, what came to their minds when they thought
of the Middle East. When the kids described the Arabs, Muslims, and Iranians
they described them as "dark skinned" as a Native American.
I can relate to that, so can all Native Americans in the U.S., because
when we are portrayed in films and TV and books too, we are referred to
as the "enemy of the White man" and we are also referred to as
the "Red man" while the White man is always the hero and the
innocent victim of the Native American. Also, our culture is always made
fun of in cartoons and old movies.
Another thing is that I just wanted to say is that the White Americans
may see the people of the Middle East as threatening and your culture "primitive,"
but that is not the case with me or many other Native Americans and maybe
some White Americans.
Marie Yellow boy
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* What we value
Thank you for "Unwanted
battle". It is good to read short history of what we value, with
the hope that the third generation Iranians, away from Iran, may benefit
from what we have enjoyed (and have taken it for granted).
As we grow older, we forget the details of history which we knew so
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