When you flip through the Iranian satellite channels you eventually get to MA TV. You will see the figure of a middle-aged man with a slick hair style and flashy clothes often matching the colors of the Iranian flag. Last week his followers stunned the world by refusing to deplane a Lufthansa flight bound to Brussels unless they talk to high level European officials and brief them about the dismal situation of their country. This is one of only a few operations that Fouladvand and his followers have thought of with the intention to free Iran. [See: satire]
In Fouladvand's TV station you won't see Persian singers with Mexican back-up dancers or ads about buying condos in Dubai. You only see the face of one man up to 10 hours a day in front of what seems like an out of focus camera. His mission is to educate Iranians about their history and more importantly their religion, Islam. His weapon is a good knowledge of Islamic history and more importantly fluency in the Arabic language.
At times Fouladvand will focus his camera on the words from the Koran and spends hours translating the sentences word by word. The translation is at times worrisome, making one think whether this is the very book that so many Iranians swear by when it speaks of beheadings and killings, especially of those who choose to oppose Islam (the evidence of which is visible these days in Iraq). Unless someone else with strong Arabic language skills disputes these translations, they seem pretty darn believable.
Iranians are Muslims not by choice but tradition. None of us are capable of having read the Koran in its original Arabic. Of course, in the Persian translations we see how easily words and phrases can be taken out of context and manipulated.
Many Iranians pray five times a day in Arabic without really knowing what these words mean, yet many swear by them. We have made gods from figures like Mohammad, Ali and Hossein without knowing about their past, who these people were and what type of lives they lived.
Even our young educated elite (see Sanaz Fotouhi's “Your loss“) believe in old and crooked traditions of spending valuable time and effort in mourning the death of these foreign figures without really knowing what good this useless act is suppose to achieve. They believe traditions must be kept no matter how empty they may seem.
Where would the Europeans be today if they continued the Medieval practice of burning those who spoke against Christianity? Ignorance is one major reason why our country is gone back to the dark ages when the rest of the world is light years ahead.
Fouldavand's words have generated some questions of my own that no one has been able to answer:
— When we seek medical advice, we see a doctor who knows about the most recent advances in medicine. But when it comes to religion, we are somehow satisfied with the contents of a book written ages ago for a society where women were buried alive. Why?
— When want to hire someone for work, we check their credentials and look into their background to make sure they are able to carry out the task satisfactorily and at a fair price. But when it comes to historic Islamic figures, we all like to think of them as heroes or wise, spiritual men, even though our knowledge of them is based on word of mouth or accounts that can not really be validated. Why?
— Finally, do we really have to have a religion in order to be good human beings? Is it necessary to open up a book in order to know that one has to be good to others, be productive and be active in the society?
These are questions that Fouldavand has raised and has made many think twice about a religion that was imposed on them. Fouladvand's mission is to bring back our identity and give us back the pride that once we enjoyed. He tells stories about Persian heroes like babake khoramdin and Cyrus the great. He tells us to wake up and not mourn the deaths of people who attacked our land 1,400 hundred years ago, raped our women and decimated our beloved land.
Although I agree with almost all of Fouladvand's sayings, I wish he uses fewer profanities when he's making a point. It's hard to change beliefs especially if the beliefs have strong roots. He must tone down his rhetoric and yet strengthen his logic and reasoning. All in all, Mr. Fouladvand, you have chosen the right path and we hope that through you and your soldiers we can all go back to a free Iran.