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Shahin & Sepehr

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Sept 14-18, 1998 / Shahrivar 23-27, 1377


* Afghanistan:
- Lack of concern for national interests
Still paying a price for isolation

- Lessons from Hitler's Germany
Don't be so emotional
- Khalili's reply: I do not condone injustices
- What else do you expect?

- Need to speak out against Taleban atrocities
* Emigrant:
- Kindled a fire within me

- Bravo!


* Privacy:
- Obey rules

- Reply: Obey ALL rules? I don't think so
* Women:
- I hope one day...

- No happier than chadoris
* News: Best source
* Women: No happier than chadoris
* Iraj Mirza: We don't call this rape

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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

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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

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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

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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".


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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.

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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