* 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
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
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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
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
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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.
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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
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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"!
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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
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.
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* Ahead of his time
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
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
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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.
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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
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