Mehdi Khalaji: Friend or Foe? That seems to be the real question.


by bahmani

MK was clearly outraged over HODER's childish comments, reacting to them in a seemingly knee-jerk reaction, articulated in the form of a very normal Cease and Desist letter. Effectively shutting down one of the most vocal anti-government blogs, one can see this latest round of debate and discussion as mere publicity stunts designed to raise general PR awareness of both sides.

I'm not saying that this is what is happening. It just appears that way. If you step back from it a bit, put your emotions and ego down, and watch the shadowy shapes drift in and out of focus.

I disagree with the general chaotic direction our discourse seems to be taking these past 10 years. Nothing against the tag line of this esteemed publication, but some things, chiefly the adult civilized way to express opinions, ARE Sacred. The results of the many rants we have thrown at each other over the past years, have yielded often ridiculous actions like marching in NY city against the film 300, but when Ahamdinejad arrives to speak his ridiculous hurtful words at the UN, not a single "patriot" has the guts to stand up and say we disagree with this vocalized ongoing damage to our national name.

I don't advocate overthrowing any government. Frankly having witnessed how easy it was to do so in the last revolution, it's really not even necessary anymore. More though, I advocate simple, mature, well thought out, and argued, vocal opposition and simple opinion offering the merest but firmest statements of calm civilized practical disagreement with "policies". Each and every policy that deserves it.

The reason that speaking out is enough, is that eventually words do in fact sink in. Especially of not heeding them has implications.

The government of Iran needs to hear our words. Repeatedly.

For that reason, I think shutting down HODER is ultimately wrong. What MK should have done instead is confront HODER head on. Because that would have ultimately provided more words to hear.

I believe you can very easily post a comment on HODER after each piece that attacks you. Addressing each accusation with a well thought out public disclaimer. I know for a fact that this publication would have very widely distributed the rebuttals. Very widely. Wider than HODER. I mean all the way to the top. Both tops. If you catch my drift.

At this time in the evolutionary stage of our development towards becoming a free culture, capable of having a civilized public discussion, taking the "heat" in this "kitchen" includes talking back to your detractors. No matter how ridiculous or immature the claims made against you. When someone calls you out, you come back at them with your position. So people know the truth. It might seem like the law of the jungle a times. Especially where we are as a culture today.

I've looked at MK's long list of published work and each tries to point out a misstep or misbehavior by the government, often but not always, offering in-depth analysis from a religious scholarly standpoint. Simply put, MK's ideas are well thought out and stated. Easily defended. Especially by MK himself.

However, it appears that at least one person has a real problem with MK. That the immense immersion and investment in religious thought and formal education, that MK has made in himself, frankly makes some people very nervous, that MK may be sneakily advocating the same "rule by religion" ploy, that many are legitimately turned off to, at this time in our history.

I personally don't know yet. If MK's lawyers would OK it, I'd love to hear more on this, directly from MK.

My personal feeling is that there is always room for religion to moderate itself, and that the Islam we see in practice today needs a serious reformation period, just like the Western religions before it. We appear to be in the Spanish Inquisition phase, where any non-believer (disbeliever) is subject to some serious consternation. That the many fundamental and obvious modernity flaws in Islam needs some intelligent internal debate and before Islam can govern me at least, I need at least a few more answers that are not based on the usual response "You must have faith".

Since I secretly know that religion can never answer all my questions (because God told me himself), I look forward to the process in which Islam eventually debates and argues itself out of it's current overly domineering governing role, and slips quietly back into being just another "personal guide on living a good life". A much needed tool and handbook for the suffering many, who apparently need ongoing moral maintenance, finding themselves continually and habitually succumbing to the world's many evils and temptations.

The rest of us are doing just fine thanks.


more from bahmani

AMERICA the real devil?

by Visitor to Iran (not verified) on

I recently spend a few months in Iran…. And you guys (and girls) don't know what a wonderful country you have!! There is history and historical sites to rival Egypt!!
But I did notice a lot of whinging about how America is the cause of ALL your problems.. from an incompetent fanatical government to blocked toilets.
Really guys (and girls) that was a LONG time ago … what have you been doing in the meantime???

I loved your country and the wonderful hospitality I received there… but don't complain about what happened a LONG time ago…. You have to focus on the present and what you are going to do about it (Don't wait for America to fix all you problems … you have political know-how , and plumbers, there already).

No offence please.. But it looks like APATHY is the real devil!


Actually, War happens to be obsolete

by bahmani on

Don't get me wrong and read the piece. By suggesting that dialog and answering his detractors, K could better address the issues than the legal route, I don't see how you could take away that somehow I am his supporter. In fact, I am calling him out from the shadow of his lawyers. So don't imagine something and then write it like it's fact. The issue is not about Israel or the West, the issue is whether we can behave like CIVILized, meaning part of a CIVIL society and air and address our grievances and concerns in a CIVIL manner. Screaming out insults, then responding to them with a lawyer letter is further from where I had hoped we would be. Clearly your mind is made up, and maybe even mine is too. But let's call out the detractors, and let them explain it in their own words instead of judge and jury trying them on a blog. That is unCIVILized.


Khalaji: Pro war on Iran. Are you?

by pivotoftheuniverse on


You ask the pertinent question in your title - everyone just sees this as a cause to attack Derakhshan. Forget Derakhshan. The real point is what the proper response is to those like Khalaji who emulate Iraqi "dissidents" like Chalabi and Makiya who turned out to be parrots for neocon aims only interested in promoting themselves. Look at the facts. Khalaji has taken a prominent post in an organization widely recognized as an important pro-Israeli think-tank. The Washington Institute has historically done very little other than promote a right-wing or neoconservative, Likudnik agenda, which has included sanctions and now war on Iran. Is this what you -- as Iranian-Americans -- support? If you do, then Khalaji's your man. You have someone on the inside. I don't, and most Iranian-Americans seem to also not support this, the war-on-Iran approach. If so then we need to speak out loudly against Khalaji for associating with and giving legitimacy to the pro-war agenda... War on Iran would be a huge disaster for Iran, America and the region. We need to stop it and those like Khalaji who have done nothing but promote this war.


I wish he would change his harsh approach!

by farrad02 on

Please see Hoder's latest post (today) in which he is accusing Ahmad Zeid Abadi of being on Rafsanjani's payroll just because this person has written an article on BBC Persian, reviewing Rafsanjani's recently published book. I have no issue with Hoder criticizing the review or challenging it, but Hoder's going too far with his accusations again! I read the review and I don't think it is written in praise or support of Rafsanjani. If Zeid Abadi is describing Rafsanjani as a moderate, it is in comparison with the hard liners in the regime and not a stretch in my view. But Hoder's approach is that the reviewer must either have no honor at all or be on Raf's payroll!


God Help Hoder

by bahmani on

I think HODER needs to be given the freedom to express his opinion regardless of whether you and I may or may not agree. The point is an honest debate. We all need to discuss the issues intelligently without bias and obsession. Everything is subject to debate an consideration. Discussion rules the day.


Hoder's blog not shut down

by goali12 on

Dear Bruce,

While I do agree with some of what you've said here, I just wanted to point out that Hoder's blog has not been "effectively shut down" as you put it. He has been in the process of moving his blog to a new server and has continued to post.



Give HODER and MK Credit...

by bahmani on

Thanks for adding your clarifications to my post. It makes it a better discussion. I appreciate your honest assessment and editorial opinion of HODER's blog. My guess is he has had to capitulate in order to survive, and be able to visit Iran once in a while. Since this intimidation and rather sudden turnaround is painfully obvious, I am glad it comes out.

My whole point is that these important dialogues with the subterfuges that surround them, desperately need to be played out in plain sight and not behind the doors of governments, or lawyer's offices.

Ultimately the debate held openly is more healthier and safer for all sides. What's funny is that both sides of this now contentious issue have simultaneously contributed to the cause of freedom, and are somewhat complicit in their deeds. Which again, is good for us to see.

Thanks for your addition to this posting!


Correction of your stated facts - Hoder's change of heart!

by farrad02 on

Bruce John,

I won't comment on the full contents of your post one way or another, but just wanted to do a fact-checking/correction. You wrote: "Effectively shutting down one of the most vocal anti-government blogs"

Whose blog are you talking about? Hoder's blog? Have you read Hoder's blog in the past...say...ohhh...16 months?

It is a well-documented and established fact that regardless of his beginnings and early-on-established reputation as a freedom seeking blogger and the champion of free blogging, etc., Hossein Derakhshan made a 180 degree turn over a year and a half ago and has since been a staunch opposer of anyone who opposes The IRI.

Here's Hoder's reasoning: Basically since America and Bush are the Imperialists (very, very recent realization on Hoder's part, I must add) then any attempts to criticize and undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran (in form of an article, a speech, a blog post or an academic exchange with many NGO's) is treason and must be exposed and confronted. For example, it is no seccret that Hoder has criticized or even in some cases hailed the capture and sacking of Iranian-American academics such as Haleh Esfandiari and Ramin Jahanbeglo and researched their past work to show that they are aligned with neo-cons, etc.

Hoder went so far as to stop his own English language criticisms of the IRI and pulled off the web the website he had once created to champion freedom of expression for Iranian bloggers ( Again, he has stated that any criticism of IRI in the international forum is treason against IRAN!!! This is the guy who once wrote (and I'm paraphrasing here but it's almost a direct quote: We must all write our articles in English language for the world to read....if it is written in Farsi, it is like it was never written!

Popular opinion (based on the timing and other facts from his own writings) is that his COMPLETE and swift change of heart could possibly be related to one or both of these two events. (1) His trip to Iran in 2005 (during the election in which Ahmadinejad was elected) during which he was briefly arrested and "spoken" to by the security services in Tehran (ouch!) and (2) Hoder's barring from ever entering USA again. Hoder moved to New York with much enthiusiasm in 2005 apparently and tried to live and work in the Big Apple! But apparently on one of his trips out of the USA, he was not allowed to get back in!

I really don't know if the allegations about the reasons behind his change of heart is true or not. And I don't subscribe to any of the accusations against him since I don't have proof either way. Hoder may be an honest to goodness supporter of the IRI for the best of intentions and believer in what he says!

All I'm doing is to correct your statement about Hoder's current self-expressed political stance (and not his affiliations, since I don't know what they are). I wish Hoder and others would do the same and not jump to conclusions and accuse each other of affiliations with this and that organization or country or even "treason"!

Thanks again for your great contributions to Iranian culture and arts (my sons love your Rostam comics).

Farhad Radmehhrian