BBC: Story of the revolution

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Shahin & Sepehr


Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Advertise with The Iranian

August 30-September 3, 1999 / Shahrivar 8-12, 1378


* Protests
- Smoke or fire?

* Religion
- Shah let people hold hands


* Relationships
- Insulting you-know-who

- Very ordinbary
- Farsi: wrong and ugly
- Can men cook rice?

* Prejudice
- Cat out of the bag
- Skin color

* Ferdowsi
- What we value

* Film
- Like father like daughter

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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.

Ramin Tabib

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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 street.

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 IRANIAN.

Maziar Shirazi,

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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 relationships.

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 (!) ways.

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 story.

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.

Vahid Pourghadiri

PS: Tell Hamid that next time I'm in Switzerland, I'll look him up!

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* Very ordinbary

The "Modern 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.

L. Matt

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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 TEXT

Mandana Kamangar

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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.

Ali Mohseni

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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 on.

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?

Yasaman Mottaghipour

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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 well.

Mahnaz Keshavarzian

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