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    October 1999

    Letters are posted here a week after they appear in The Iranian Times.


* Culture:
- No Disney, no communication
* Iranians:
- New generation
- Fury does not help
* Photos:
- No girls?

- World citizen
* Identity:
- Raise the bar

- Distilling an identity
- We are American
* The Iranian:
- Cutting edge

Letters index
Letters sent to The Iranian in previous months

    September index:

* Iranians:
- New generation
- Fury does not help

- Love Iran with its warts
- The truth gives us strength
- Baseh digeh

* Work habits:
- Doesn't hold water

- Beechaareh Pakistanis
- Think about our children
- Right and wrong
- Wrong, wrong, wrong

- Wrong, wrong, wrong
- Sayonara, my lazy nation

* Nostalgia:
- Miss kick ass
- Worst weakness
Book cover:
- Offensive eye and coloring
- Vee lissen too!

* Habits:
- Far from it
- We're not lazy
* Identity:
- Raise the bar

- Distilling an identity
- We are American
- No girls?

- World citizen
* Memories:
- My old neighborhood

* Relationships:
- Nothing wrong

- Enough feminist jargon
- Open your eyes
The Iranian:
- Cutting edge

- Love The Times
- Intolerance
- Tasteless defense of Islam
- Muslim first
- I'm scared

* Extremism:
- Unromantic view of politics
- I long for the day

October 29, 1999

* No Disney, no communication

I am a fan of Dr. Naficy's work, and I have admired his writings and his observations esp. on Iranian cinema over the years, but his article ["Crossing boundaries"] made assertions that were too tempting to pass up, so here is my response:

1. The globalization of American pop culture is the globalization of consumer culture, and two persons communicating through American pop culture therefore cannot communicate unless it is by way of a capitalist communicative medium (a product of some sorts, namely a movie or a doll), and in this case a Disney animated product. No Disney product, no communication. This means we are mute and completely subject to a breakdown of any discourse without a infrastructure set-up by the American/capitalist culture industry. This is loss of freedom ... FULL TEXT

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Octrober 28, 1999

* New generation

I think that if anyone would like to read the opinion of the new generation of Iranians, they should. I have lived in England for 10 years, I only lived in Iran up to the age of 4. There are many things I love about my country and many things I hate; my hate has come from the contrast I have felt from living in a country run by religion and so-called "order" and living in a country where there is a freedom of speech, of action of independence ...

I love my country; the smell, the air, the mountains, the people. But I can not "respect" my country. I hope one day me and others will be able to overcome our fear of death and stand up for our rights and others' rights! My dad's best friend was killed simply because of his beliefs and my dad was shot in the leg when he was a young man because of his communist friend! I do not believe in communism I believe in democracy and freedom to live life in the quality which the individual wishes! ... FULL TEXT


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* Fury does not help

I have been reading every article Ms. Khalili has been sending to The Iranian. When I read her furious letter in response to "Basheh digeh" by Mr. Rad, I could only go back and read it for the first time. It was an amazingly well thought-out article by Mr. Rad.

I Find Ms. Khalili's observations superficial and rather dogmatic, even though her love of Iran is obvious. It astonishes me that people like us who have left our vatan with all its problems to find a better life abroad, give ourselves an absolute right to criticize our embattled countrymen and women and their traditions.

It is like Ms. Khalili has swallowed the stigma the West attaches to Middle East (although she may not be aware of it) and now she is throwing it up in the cyberspace. I do not know just what kind of people she is dealing with in Iran, but her statements of how women supposedly behave and what is expected of them, is not my experience of Iran. No, Ms. Khalili, women where I come from do not do "eshve-gari" or any other mispresentations you have attributed to them.

By the way there is nothing wrong with having "veghaar" when you are dealing with the public, even though it is not a practiced virtue in the West. As Mr. Rad mentions, try to look for the real causes of the social ills of our country and at least try to mention them as a balance to your Iranian-culture bashing. Hiding behind a furious response to a logical and well thought-out criticism will not help.

Alireza B.

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Octrober 27, 1999

* Raise the bar

Mr. Alikhani writes an admirable piece on one's perspectives of how we impact our society.

It is worthy to mention that one has to be a good human being first and foremost. So often we try to categorize ourselves by using so many different issues. It doesn't matter if one's an Egyptian, an Icelander, a Cruzan, or an Iranian. What matters most, when reflected upon, was how this one individual impacted his/her society.

Mr. Alikhani's grandfather certainly did significant things to impact his neighbors and friends. However, everyone, in one shape or another, directly or indirectly has an impact on society. That is how U.S. has become such a melting pot with a diverse--some may argue-- socio-economic background ... FULL TEXT

Ali Shemirani

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* Distilling an identity

I keep checking out because, every once in a while, hidden among record promos and not-so-funny conversation bits, there is an article that completely brings me to tears. These unprofessional articles, often written in less than perfect English, move me more than any well-researched study or master reporting from Iran. I guess, as they say in Persian, if it comes from the heart it reaches the heart (ageh az del biyaad, beh del mishineh).

And so it was with Mr. Alikhani's recent article "Stop or go?". I think it moved me because it dealt with a subject that I have wrestled with many times since leaving Iran -- the search for one's identity when living away from the source of identification.

Here are some of my thoughts about how our generation of Iranians in America can distill an identity which is completely in tune with the values of our parents and grandparents without ending up alienated from the host society and ineffective as a result ... FULL TEXT

Ramin Abhari

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Octrober 26, 1999

* No girls?

I was pleased to see your nice photos of Iranian kids ["Moving along"]. But I had one thing on my mind: Aren't there any girls in Iran ? Why did you only take pictures of boys?

Youth make up a major percentage of our people and half of them are girls. And we should feel responsible toward their future as much as the boys. This is more important because of the way girls are treated universally and domestically.

Parham Gharagozlou

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* World citizen

I had the pleasure of viewing Bahieh Khamsi' s photographs of Ecuador ["Red orange black blue"]. As a 25-year-old, I found myself excited to see that an Iranian student had spent a year to serve humanity!

Her pictures capture the spirit and the radiance of those that she encountered. Here is an example of an Iranian who has shown herself to be a world citizen.

Jian Khodadad

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Octrober 25, 1999

* We are American

In respose to the Maryam Hosseini's "American? Yeah right":

I immigrated to the US 22 years ago. I do love our culture and most of my friends are Iranian as well. But few years ago I realized that one reason we feel so isolated and disconnected from the American society was exactly what you prescribe in your article.

The emptiness you feel inside is not because you're so far away from your homeland as you say in your article. It is because you don't realize that this great country you live in is your homeland ... FULL TEXT

Mohamad Vaezi

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* Cutting edge

I have to congradulate you guys for show casing the cutting edge Iranian arts [A. Reza Rowhani's "Reconstructing dreams"] in your web magazine. There are many great Iranian web sites but you are the best in my Explorer Favorites.

Mr. Rowhani's pictures can make a great postcards.

G.H. Massiha
Tab-edy in Louisiana

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October 22, 1999

* Intolerance

In respose to the letter, "Muslims first": You, as one who knows so much about Islam and Persia, should know that, first of all, pre-Islamic Iran had a plethora of religions and was much more tolerant of them than what is shown today... I certainly do not consider the indiscriminate persecution of Bahais in Iran "religious freedom", nor the forced exile of some one million able and smart Iranians from their country because of their political beliefs ...

I am not here to bash Islam. I may not like the religion's impact or its history, but I have no problem with anyone who chooses to follow the belief, as long as they don't impose it on others, as you and your hezbollah brothers do. You sit there and advertise Islam as some magical product that changed everything for the better. Look at Iran today. Look at all countries with Islam as their prominent religion. Most of them haven't even reached the point where you could call them "developing," much less progressive ... FULL TEXT


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* Miss kick ass

I used to be [Miss Iran finalist, 1978] Fereshteh Shirzad's student back home. As far as I remember Fereshteh was a good Karate player. Once she kicked around a few pasdars in Haft-Hoz. That is all I can say about her.

No name

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* Worst weakness

I love your Nostalgia section. But I also love this Omar Sharif line from one his movies: "The exile's worst weakness is nostalgia for what is lost..."

Majid Ghoddusi

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Octrober 21, 1999

* I'm scared

I am an Iranian girl who grew up in United States, from the age of 12. I love my Iranian heritage and culture. I met my husband four years ago and we have been happily married for three years.

In the next few months, I'll be meeting my mother in law for the first time. So far we have had great phone conversations, but other sources (not my husband of course) tell me she is EVIL! Call me insecure, but I am scared. I have seen way too many Iranian marriages suffering from inlaw interferences in their lives. So many marriages break up or turn sour because of the mother-in-laws. This has been an awful tradition of ours for many years.

As an Iranian woman, I understand the root of this mother-in-law complex. But for now, I can not resolve this deep social defeciency of ours. I come from a very peaceful family and hate senseless conflicts. What disturbes me the most is the double standardness of this issue. By that I mean; it's always the aroos (the bride) that has to endure the mother-in-law's difficulties. From inaws' precpectives, rearly have I heard a son-in-law being in trouble unless if he killed someone in an accident or did something else alike.

Although some arooses have the upper-hand due to their degree of income or degree of education (like MDs and such). Not that I don't consider myself intelligent, it's the superficiality of it. Has anyone ever been able to prevent the inevitable problems with their mother in law? Is there a quick fix? Please help!

Azita B.

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* Love The Times

I really love your newsletter. I spend three years in Iran (1995 to 1998) and I had a wonderful time over there. Right now I live in the Republic of Korea but I truly miss the friendly people, the beautiful country and the never-stopping life in Tehran. Wish I could go back soon again!

In the meantime I really love scrolling through The Iranian Times and absorbing whatever I can from your daily offer. Many thanks!

Brunold Peter

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Octrober 20, 1999

* Doesn't hold water

In his recent article "Disillusioned", Moghadam sails through the uncharted waters of the Iranian social psychology. He has decided, though arbitrarily, that the Iranian work ethic lacks substance, and in need of serious evaluation. He, skillfully, has taken time to take a look at the historic aspects of the Iranian behavior, declaring that centuries of invasions, and living under different rulers has impacted the content of our character, and thus social normalcy.

Although, I support his empirical analysis of Iranian history, however, I must say that part of his critique does not hold water. Here is a case in point. He says: "We know that merits and personal efforts plays little in our advancement in the society, and its the link and networks to which one belongs that determines one's progress". Well, making a blanket statement like this, is incorrect, and inappropriate. Additionally, this is not something new. Is it?

Despite this strong assertion, I do know hundreds of friends who came from disadvantaged families, and had nobody in the hierarchy of the political, educational, or financial establishment, and due to personal resiliency, boot strap, hard work, and honesty have achieved the highest level of personal, social,spiritual, and economic prosperity.

However, I do agree that there were, and there will be people who get to places with the help of connections. For instance go to any American institution and you will find plenty of examples of people working in various positions due to the fact that they knew someone in the organization. So, it is not necessarily an Iranian phenomenon.

I work and live in the heart of Silicon Valley, and I do know individuals who got their jobs not just because they were the cream of crop, or graduated from Stanford, but they got it because they knew someone inside.

Moghadam, to an extent is right for his critical views regarding our social behavior, but we need to stop bashing ourselves in the head. We need to embark on a new identity. As Americans, we are here to work hard, live,and enjoy life. Yes, as an Iranian American we will help our people to get to their highest human potential. We have no choice. I am sorounded by great numbers of diverse ethnicities. I see that they elevate their people to important jobs in their organization. Why not us?

Reza Azarmi

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* Tasteless defense of Islam

Your letter "Moslem first" is based on so many fallacies which I don't know how and why one wanted to bother to comment. All your thoughts regarding Arabic language and its distinguished miraculous features are just as nonsense, as is your bad reading of the Quran. The Quran has never mentioned any superiority of Arabic or any other languages to reveal the message of God. In fact the Quran says God could have revealed messages in any other language as good and effective as Arabic. The only reason the Quran was revealed and then written in Arabic was that Mohammad was an Arab...

Your tasteless defense of Islam is worse than Communists attacking religions as a source of all human misery. Islam or any other religion have been indispensable for the quality of life we have today. But they are not without their tradeoffs; mankind paid dearly for it. Again all humans paid a great price for religions -- no doubt about that; a point often keep being ignored or covered under the carpet by over zealous religious agents like you. How many people lost their rights, belongings and lives in the name of religion? ... FULL TEXT

Saeed Derhami

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Octrober 19, 1999

* All you need is free speech

I think the article by our Iranian friend is wonderful ["Persian work ethics"]. While the criticism is just and the analysis well supported by facts presented, one must also take the next step and think of a resolution that will remedy the problem. While the article is very candid, it is also true that not all Iranians are lazy. On the contrary, once the opportunity is given, they can work as hard as others.

I believe that it is the loss of hope that kills the desire to work hard and excel. If people believe that their government is corrupt, they will have no reason to be good, or to play good guy. I think the secret to success is freedom of speech. If people have complete freedom of speech and expression, things will fall into their right places.

By nature, we all want good things in life. Only in societies where there is freedom of speech and expression, you will see that people control their government and make the government work for them. So the people will police the government and the government will govern the society with guidelines handed by the people. In such societies, workers will be heard, they know that they are counted on and accounted for. Thus there will be hope and incentive to work. So we all need to push for freedom of speech, expression and press.

This also means that we will need to be more tolerant, because reasonable people can have different opinions. I don't think there is anything wrong with our Iranian friends in Iran. It is just that they need leadership and guidance toward democracy. Iranians have a lot to offer to the world; you just need to free them.

Al Mohajerian

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* Blow below the gut

In response to the author of "Khodeti", I believe the derogatory remarks about successful, independent, women stem mostly from jealousy. Since the person making the remark would find it a challenge to attack the woman (women) at an intellectual or intelligent level, (s)he decides to go for a blow below the gut so to speak (Excuse the double entendre). It is much easier to make speculations on a woman's social life than it is to question her qualification and career.

Regarding men opting for marriageable women from Iran, each to his own. As the English saying goes: "You can take the boy out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the boy." I believe the Persian equivalent is: "Aaghebat gorg zadeh gorg shavad, gar cheh baa aadami bozorg shavad'!

Nasim Bagheri

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Octrober 18, 1999

* Muslim first

In response to M's "Shah let people hold hands," the foremost thing that is completely wrong is the notion that Arabs gave "their God" to Iranians... ISLAM WAS NEVER AN ARAB RELIGION. IT IS A UNIVERSAL ONE ...

There is an abudance of evidence that Islam DID NOT flatten cities and force conversions, yet the people who claim that it did happen present absolutely NO evidence that it did. Islam ENRICHES Iran. Despite the political and idiologial differences in Iran today, look at our education. The CIA has named Iran as being in the top 40 educational systems in the world in 2 categories: math and science. No other modern Muslim country has done this.

And why shouldn't I be a Muslim first and a Persian second? All of us will face and I. I will tell Allah I am Muslim. Why? Because when death befalls me my nationality, money, weapons, and friends will not help me when I stand before Allah. Only my deeds matter. Iran can't help me them ... FULL TEXT

Kazem Mansouri

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* Beechaareh Pakistanis

In response to Shar Zori's "We're not lazy", first of all, beechaareh Pakistanis and Indians. And I hope your words don't reach their ears because they are notorious for getting back!

Secondly, here are some of the English equivalents of Persian words you thought did not exist:

mohabat: kindness, compassion, sympathy
vafaa: faithfulness, loyalty, devotion
doosti: friendship, camaraderie
erfaan: transcendentalism
mardaanegi: altruism, selflessness

Ramin Tabib

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* Nothing wrong

In response to Saghie Zarinkalk "Khodeti", even though you are totally entitled to your opinions, you can not say that Iranian men who go back to get married in Iran are doing anything wrong. They have the right to choose who they want to get married to just like you do.

I have seen many Iranian women who marry White, Black, etc. and even though I wouldn't personally do that, it is none of my business. I will never judge them because of who they decided to marry. You cannot say every Iranian man getting married in Iran will end up paying for it, just like I don't say every Iranian woman marrying an African American male will end up the same.

UC Berkeley

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October 15, 1999


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Octrober 14, 1999


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Octrober 13, 1999

* Vee lissen too!

The poem "Rain" by Mr. Shah Zendegi is a sad and pathetic plagiarism of Simon and Garfunkel's "Kathy's Song" with the word "Iran" substituted for "England". Please let Mr. Zendegi know that VEE IRANIAN LISSEN TO AMERICAN MOOSIC TOO!!!

Sean Radan

Editor: Correction has been made. Thanks for pointing this out.

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* Think about our children

Read your article and enjoyed it. I could not agree with you more ["Persian work ethics". The funny thing is I see a parallel in other countries like Egypt. Zerangi is worse in that country than it is in ours! Also Greece is the same way.

As long as we only care about our past -- which has become the focal point of our lives -- we are going to miss the future. Instead of thinking about our parents we need to think about our children. May be that will help us do away with zerangi and start being a example for our children.

Mohammad Talaee

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* Offensive eye and coloring

In my view the eye and coloring of your cover story picture "Her eyes" resembles the contreversial art exhibit portarying christ in New York City. It can be extremly offensive. May be I am misreading it?

Hamid Shahandeh

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Octrober 12, 1999

* Right and wrong

The Iranian letter's section, which I stumbled upon serendipitously not long ago, is one of the most interesting discussion fora with regards to Iran. I read Mr Khachaturian's nostalgic words which were unpretentious yet lyrical, like one of the symphonies of his composer namesake. I also read dAyi Hamid's confused confabulations ["Persian work ethics"]. One can not take the man seriously after seeing his picture and many have eloquently and strongly rebuked him. However I like to write a few words in support as well as refutation of dAyi Hamid ...

Although I object to Hamid's tone he raises some points that we all know to be true. Zerangi is a badge of honour amongst Iranians. This is due to our history. Since the fall of the Safavids and the attack of Ashraf-i Afghan, the instability inherent in the Iranian life and politics has been a hinderance to the establishment of any semblance of a meritocracy. People rarely innovated to get ahead. Instead they merely redistributed the existing wealth by devious or violent means. No legal protection meant that long term investment was a folly and the surest way to wealth was dishonesty. So three atitudes developed in the Iranian psyche that still persist but I see them disappearing in my generation ... FULL TEXT

Arash Salardini

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* My old neighborhood

I can picture all the places xAle has talked about ["Yakhie"]. I'm from Ahvaz too.

Although my times are a bit more recent than hers, I can remember her neighborhood as well as Falakeye Raah Aahan, Beeseem housing complex, Doctor Hooshyaar elementary (all boys), Karim-Faatemee high school, Omeed elementary (all girls, and maybe xAle went to that school?! like my older sister...), Pepsi Cola bottling company and a lot more around that neighborhood. Maybe xAle remembers my dad's pharmacy on the corner of Seeroos and Sa'di streets (Daarookhaaneye Paastor Noe).

Anyway her article borught back a lot good memories since I went to school around her old neighborhood. xAle is one of few people on the net that I can totally relate to. Thanks for bringing back some of my Ahvaz memories. My best to xAle.

Mehran Jazayeri-Moghaddas

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* Enough feminist jargon

I have followed the train of thought and argument of the articles regarding relationships in this magazine since it first started and am one of the original readers of it.

The extensive criticism of Mr.Raafat's article ["Real Iranian girls?"] is appalling to be honest! It is completely hypocritical for Smith and Khalili and all the rest to feel carte blanche to demoralize or justify censoring his opinion and first hand experience simply because they don't agree with his idea!? Frankly their attempt to deride and ridicule him or people with different ideas than their's like his is completely insensitive and not worthy of much attention by this magazine! This is reverse-chauvanism by women if anything at all!

I think we already get our over saturation of feminist jargon from the mainstream media and to censor someone in perhaps the only outlet he may have is completely unfair!

While as an Iranian man whose lived in the U.S. for twenty some years now, I was really partly inspired by his article to take my American wife and kids to Iran this summer which was my first time since I came here! I don't think what he has characterised as odd in any way and certainly to criticise him for _not_ mentioning "love, friendship" and the like doesn't do justice for the apparent fact that the reason for him going to Iran in search of a "virgin girl" was because he could not find love or friendship with opinionated girls in this country!

I love my American wife and that is my choice, and perhaps if I listened to many Iranians I wouldn't have married her and had lovely kids and a lovely life! And perhaps this maybe the same for this chap who is doing the _unusual_ by not being part of the norm!

Bijan Shahrokhpour

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Octrober 11, 1999


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October 8, 1999

* Love Iran with its warts

Regarding your letter, "Baseh digeh", I just want to write you a few words to clarify a couple of things. I don't much care to respond to your personal attacks. They say nothing about me; they say volumes about you ...

I don't have an inferiority complex about Iran. I don't have to sweep its realities under the carpet, hide its dirty laundry to love its people. I don't sentimentalize the country, I love it with all its warts. Can you say the same thing? I am proud enough of my heritage, of my memories, of my extended 66 million-strong family there that I don't feel insulted or diminished when a farangi asks me whether Iranians burp after their meal to show it is good. That shows their ignorance about Iran; it says nothing about Iran. Nor do I have some warped notion of nationalism, which considers sitting silently and singing Iran's praises, ignoring the destruction, the death, the constant degradation there, just because it is or was "my vatan." Finally, Mr. Fathi-Rad, if I wanted to do "khod-shirni in front of the foreigner at the expense of our culture", I would have found another forum to do it in. I wouldn't have written in a place called "The Iranian."... FULL TEXT

Laleh Khalili

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* The truth gives us strength

In reference to the letter "Baseh digeh", I feel compelled to state a few words. Let me start by saying that I received a lot of feedback supporting my article ["Khodeti"]. While it may be a trivial matter to some, stigmatizing Iranian single girls is a problem that exists in our communities abroad.

I feel that Ali's opinion about my article is biased for several reasons. Here's a brief explanation: I am sorry if my article offended some, especially my fellow, hamshahris from Tabriz. I admire Ali's patriotic feelings toward Iran and its rich history. But please keep in mind that we all care for Iran one way or another. I wrote the article because I care for the image of Iranian girls abroad (they are Iranians after all!). Is it not so Iranian of me to defend fellow Iranians?

Like Ali, I am also very proud of my mother. But unfortunately your family and mine do not represent the attitude that exists in our communities abroad. My family life does not represent my article or my way of thinking about our social issues. Like many people, my writings are based on my personal observations, knowledge and experience based on varied sources. Why should we always bring up our families? In my opinion, that's small thinking. Let's look at the "big picture" instead.

I am sorry if some of us feel that CNN and others have ruined what's left of our damaged reputation. That's a different story all by itself. I believe in revealing the truth no matter how unpleasant it may seem. In the U.S., it is not forbidden to state the truth; I see it on the news every day: The truth about political games, violence in the cities, family issues, drug abuse and much more. The truth does not weaken a nation, but covering it up will!

Saghie Zarinkalk

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Octrober 7, 1999

* Unromantic view of politics

After a rather lengthy break from The Iranian, I was able to create the time and have a good brows through its recent issues. I was not disappointed to find a collection of diverse and interesting material. But what affected me most was the note from the young girl from Hamadan about Haj Abbas ["Hamadan's Brad Pitt"]. I was moved, lifted and saddened by the content of the note and its description of life when one's most basic rights are so continuously ignored and infringed upon.

This is not new nor out of norm. The events of recent months at Tehran University and other higher education institutes and the treatment of students by the forces of the conservative alliance depict a grim picture. However, I, like so many of my compatriots, take heart from the resilience and resolve of the young Iranians who are determined to receive recognition for their basic rights. This is a new generation of Iranian who does not wish to march under the banner of this or that political organization in order to attain a political identity. Nor does this generation have a romantic view of political activism ... FULL TEXT

M. Emadi-Moghadam

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* I long for the day

Fury overwhelms me at such stories ["Hamadan's Brad Pitt"]. I am a 21- year-old Iranian male living in the U.S. My uncle forwarded the Haj Abbas story to me, and frankly I found it quite offensive. I find offence in my self for being an Iranian, and letting such atrocities go unchallenged in my country.

It has been 20 years since the revolution destroyed what hope we had to gain our independence from the world. Like young fools the poor voted with there lives, the rich ran, and the dogs stayed. I swear on my great grandfathers grave, if I ever get the chance I will personally dispose of ever last ravenous dog that walks the streets of my homeland.

I use to get very angry when I listened to the Prince of Iran [Reza Pahlavi]. I could not understand how this young man with such vitality could be such a cowered. They destroyed his father, and he makes speeches. They finally killed Dr. Bakhtiar, and he still makes speeches. We here stories of grave injustices an carelessness for life, HE STILL MAKES SPEECHES.

I am a poor programmer. struggling to make something of myself. But as of late I see myself struggling with what I love (programming) and what I must do (help my people). I can only hope that some day God will give me the means to fight these ignorant fools who call then selves followers of God. They know nothing of God. They know not his passion, love and care, for life, for freedom, for choice of will.

Some day I will find a way to rid my country of ever last one of them, and on that day vengeance will belong to the Lord All Mighty. Tears rip my young heart apart, so I long for the day I can return.

Shaheen M. Bakhtiar

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Octrober 6, 1999

* Work is a curse

Soooooooooooo well put! Seems like you took the words right out of our mouths ["Persian work ethics"]. And it's not that before the revolution it was significantly better... some people (like your father) were hard working but most others were not. Working in Iran is not an honor, it is a curse. Thanks for putting it all so well.

Goli Ameri

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* Bad breath

I really liked the letter by Mr. Fathi-Rad. Sometimes I think the caliber of letters to The Iranian in response to the articles surpass that of the stories themselves.

And for the record, I intend to marry the girl I date. Yeah, she is Iranian. And she is well-adjusted enough not to blame her own problems and shortcomings on Iranian men. That kind of attitude drives any self-respecting man away, quicker than does bad breath on a first date.

N. Behzad Fazel
New York

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* Looking for Fereshteh

Having seen your inquiries on the Miss Iran (1978) finalists, I remembered that I used to know one of them: Fereshteh Shirzad. I would very much like to know where she is. I would very much appreciate it if you ran the same inquiry on her so that someone might update me.

Kasra Ebrahimi

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Octrober 5, 1999

* Wrong, wrong, wrong

I just read your front page article in The Iranian Times called "Persian work ethics" and frankly it just hits me the wrong way:

The writer apparently in an extended period of bad mood, decides to write a two-page article and attack every Iranian characteristic or behavior he can come up with. He tangles issues ranging from our cultural interpretation of zerangi, to politics, work habits, oil (of all things), productivity and women's role in our society. Of course in every case, the so-called Iranian way of dealing with these issues is wrong. Let's talk about some of these issues:

Zerangi: I have tried to come up with a translation of this word in English and the closest I can come with is "opportunistic". I think everybody agrees that the masters of this technique are Americans; not that there is anything wrong with it. After all, America is known as the land of opportunity and they are proud of it. Majority of Americans don't believe that by being Mr. Nice Guy and waiting for your turn in every situation, one will be successful. I think if we look back at our cultural history, we will discover that the concept of zerangi didn't really flourish in Iran until we became more familiar with Western culture. So let's not give all the credit to Iranians; this is just a sign of our times ... FULL TEXT

Mohamad Dilmagani

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* Open your eyes

I just finished reading your article ["Khodeti"] and I feel so moved. What you said is so true. I am the girl you are writing about. I'm single, 28, and living on my own. My parents live in Germany and for the past seven years, I have put myself through school. I have a great job, support myself and live my own life.

Sad part is, nobody seems to recognize me for what I have achieved; they only see me as a single girl, living without her parents. I have to constantly worry about what people (who don't mean anything to me by the way), are saying about me. God forbid, if I decide to go to an Iranian function with someone. All of a sudden I am that "dokhtareh tanhaa".

When I meet someone I like and want to get to know better, I want to see how he acts around people I know. But I can't do that unless we are engaged or the whole family in Iran, Europe and U.S. are involved. It is so frustrating. Why are we like that? Why can't we give people the benefit of the doubt? Why can't we have a "saalem" life style and still be single? Is that so hard to believe?

I like to get married too one day and I won't accept anything but an Iranian man, but I have to prove so much sometimes that it is easier to just give up and stay single. I wished Iranians, specially Iranian women, wouldn't be so judgmental about single women. WE do like to have a family and settle down but our options are so limited, because we don't have the luxury of living with our parents.

Please try to open your eyes. You don't have to live at home to be "najib"; that should be in your blood. Thanks for bringing up this very important issue.

Golboo Matinkhou

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Octrober 4, 1999

* Baseh digeh

As if it is not bad enough hearing people put down your culture and ethnicity all day long on the CNN, BBC, CBS, NBC; as if it is not enough to see Diane Sawyer willfully try to misrepresent the facts and portray the Middle Easterners as a bunch of wife beating savages; as if movies like Not Without My Daughter are not enough; as if the whole of Western propaganda machinery is not geared towards demonizing the Middle East, and Iran in particular; I have to bear these stabs in the back from the likes of Laleh Khalili ["To live or to be alive"] and this taazeh beh doraan resideh Saghie Zarinkalk ["Khodeti"] ...

For you, Laleh Khalili, Iran has become something which you abuse to gain self esteem. And interestingly enough, this is quite obvious from your tone: "I am something else, perhaps unbecomingly unfeminine, dangerous perhaps, unknowingly so". How you make me laugh. Romanticizing that you are different from these barbarians, a "dangerous" revolutionary to their backward ways. A female Che Guevara, are you? Yes, you ARE "something else". Good for you. It takes no genius to point out Iran's social ills, or those of the Third World, for that matter... FULL TEXT

Ali Fathi-Rad

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* Sayonara, my lazy nation

I enjoyed reading ["Persian work ethics"]. To be honest I think as a nation we are sick to our stomach. The very few symptoms that you have mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.

Unless we Iranians abroad -- of course after adopting the current modern life style and its related civilization (modernism, democracy and pluralism) -- do something for our nation and support its REAL REFORMS then nothing -- absolutely nothing -- will stop the destructive evolutionary force of history against our Persian tamddon. There is no guarantee or special privilege attached to our backward civilization to protect it from the thunder of fast CHANGES.

There are tens of other civilizations and nations that have been forced off the stage of history to make room for more deserving ones. I'm not talking about marhoom-e USSR. But look at today's Russia! My prediction for Iran as a nation-state is this: DOOOOOOOM...!!! I hope I'll be proven wrong in the near future but as you follow current world trends and Iran's awful and stupid current regime there seems to be NO way out of our eternal misery.

By all accounts, Iran has failed many tests in modernization in nearly 200 years. It's time to say: " SAYONARA my LAZY NATION ...!" You did not deserve the chances of institutional evolution; you are not selected to be a symbol of anything but backwardness.

I'd just love to hear from all those short-tempered, gheirati, Iranians who are screaming and shouting at my comments now. I have an arsenal of sound and historical arguments in my possession to silence them all; well almost! To put it in Farsi: aaghaayaan maa keh balaanesbat az kooneh aasemoon nayoftaadim, aakheh khod-faribi taa chand bharn!?

Saeed Derhami
Chiba, Japan

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October 1, 1999

* Far from it

What dAyi Hamid fails to realize ["Persian work ethics"] is the real reason why the office clerk loses his stamp and tells you to come back next week. The reason for this is not that clerks are "lazy". Far from it. The real reason is that they are being paid very little for carrying out the job (average office salary 30,000 tomans per month), and with the high prices for necessities, they are left with no choices but to supplement their incomes with bribes.

The documentary you mentioned ("Divorce Iranian style") was notable as it showed how people not familiar with the pay-off system were sent running around and told to come back later. The moment you take out a couple of "Greenies" (Hezari's), the lost stamp suddenly appears, and the file, which could not be located in three weeks, has suddenly turned up.

You go on to state, "Do you think any program of any politician could lift an economy where any tohfe-ye natanz gets the title of doctor, engineer, or architect just because his brother is dead? ". Unfortunately, you fail to realize that there is a difference between getting into university and graduating. Just because you have conned your way in it does not mean that you are automatically going to pass the exams and qualify as a professional.

Many of the people killed in the war were not there as a matter of choice and if the system tries to compensate them in some way, then the families can not be blamed for accepting. Having read your article may I suggest you devote more time towards looking after the "dead animal", which you call a hair style.

Sadri M.

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* We're not lazy

I just finished reading dAyi Hamid's article about zerangi ["Persian work ethics"] which I think deserves a response. Let me first congragulate your staff on your online magazine. dAyi Hamid's article brings out another characteristic which he may have already treated: The Iranian habit of ridiculing ourselves. I think this comes from our habit of hiding personal means and wealth.

We are not so lazy after all. Iranians in America are usually hard working, and they need not be so, and the unproductive work in Iran is due to our bad management which is another cultural problem. We should face the fact that our culture has signifanct structural ills. This was apparent in works such as Sadeq Hedayat's Tup-e Murvarid or by Ali Shariati (he said half our people are sleep and the other half are running away).

We all remember the growth of our economy and standard of living when the late Shah (I am not a royalist) brought Western reform by this useless oil. The sickness in our culture is not unique, It is far worse in India and Pakistan. Things like zerangi, chaaploosi and bazle guie are our historical baggage. Lets not forget mohabat, vafaa, doosti, erfaan mardaanegi ... do these have translations in English or japanese?

Shar Zori

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