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    September 1999


Letters index
Letters sent to The Iranian in previous months

    September index:

* Relationships
- Trash should be published
- Lost hope in humanity
- Deep down: Neanderthals
Obscure fluke
- Insulting you-know-who
- Very ordinbary
* Abyaneh:
- Chic?
* Religion:
- Abusing Allah
* Identity
- I am shocked
- Don't take it personally!
- Small town in England
Rude awakening
- Only vegetables have roots
We are separate
- Subservient and self-depricating
- Can we contribute anything?
No melting pot in Germany, Sweden
* Khalili:
- Mortifying
- Head spinner
Halloween NOT Persian
- Who needs Einstein?
- Halloween is Persian
* Politics:
Why support Republicans?
* Abadan:
Memory lane
The Iranian:
- So proud
* Homosexuals:
- Right to be homophopic
- Homophobia?!
Genuine debate
- New Dark Ages
* Poetry
Enough Rumi already
* The Iranian
- Traveler of tomorrow
Big, fat happy birthday
* Religion
- Go to Afghanistan
- Shah let people hold hands
* Film
- Like father like daughter
* Language
- For brainless Iranians
- Farsi: wrong and ugly
* Politics
- Very insulting
* Prejudice
- Hold the mirror
* Protests
- Smoke or fire?

September 30, 1999

* Memory lane

What a wonderful collection from Abadan. Your photos bring back lots of memories. Only now one realizes how special Abadan and its community was. I left Abadan for England in 1972 and I haven't been back since.

Although I never lived in Tehran, I still had a shock when I returned there for few days just after the war in 1990. I can imagine it would have been even bigger shock if I was allowed to go to Abadan.

One correction to the pictures called "Deffteery" -- these are pictures of the local clinic for Braim area and the correct name is "Dispensary". Pictures that you are calling them fields, first few look like grass area opposite Hotel Abadan.

Also if you remember with the exception of the bazaar area, none of the "Sherkat e Naft" areas had official street name or numbers. There were only distinguished by their house numbers i.e. "Shesh-sadiaa" (600) or "Chaarsadiaa" (400) and so on, plus the area name.

Despite that some areas had unofficial names like "Chaarbaagh", "Falakeh Alfi" and so on.

I don't know whether you are aware that there is another site dedicated to Abadan, Khoramshahr and Ahvaz. Here is the address: //

Once again thank you for the lovely trip down memory lane.

Armen Khachaturian

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* So proud

As an Iranian who has lived most of his life away from Iran, I am so proud to see so many talents who have blossomed in my homeland that it makes me feel exceptionally proud. So many artists, writers, poets, photographers, film makers, scientists and on who have changed the cultural scene in Iran and abroad.

Their contributions to literature, music and so on has enriched our culture and the world's understanding of our heritage. I don't know of any other nation or country with such a wonderful resource.

Undoubtedly people like you should be commended for introducing most of these brilliant minds to us. Thank you for your efforts. Thank you for doing what you are doing.

Iradj Sooudi

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September 29, 1999

* Why support Republicans?

The Republican Party is an anti-immigrant political organization why do they expect us to help them to win an election [Iranian American Republican Council]? Have they forgotten the atrocities they commited against elderly immigrants?

Have they forgotten that under their leadership food stamps and welfare payments to the needy immigrants were discontinued? (meaning single mothers, childern, and the elderly). Have they forgotten the anti-immigrants hysteria they helped to create?

We as Iranians who live and raise our family in this country will not be fooled by their propaganda. Yes, Mr. Rob Sobhani is an Iranian decendant but so what? So is Googoosh, Khatami, the Shah, and Asghar Ghatel!

Where was Mr. Sobhani when all these atrocities were being commited against the Iranian immigrants in this country? Whose rights was he defending? It is not enough to say " I am Iranian give me your money; give me your support!"

And how about the destructive opposition of the Republican Party to gun control legislation? How about Republican insistance to give back $800 billion to the rich while cutting the budget for schools, teachers, housing and other important programs that affect everyone's lives? Why should we support such policies?

Iranian Americans have matured during the last twenty years, we won't be fooled again.

San Jose Ca

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* Trash should be published

I fully agree with S. Smith that Cyrus Rafaat ["Real Iranian girls?"] seems like a rotten leftover of the Stone Age, and as a woman, I find his opinions so unbelievably stupid, backwards, disgusting and hypocritical that I cannot take it seriously at all. His article is nothing but the evidence of an empty-headed blowhard and as such, I don't bother to dignify his writings with a response.

However, I disagree with you on whether The Iranian should publish this article or not. Airing one's dirty laundry helps kill the parasitic bacteria resident therein! By bringing this article to light, The Iranian does the Iranian-American community a great service: it puts a mirror in front of it and magnifies the warts that need to be burnt off.

I declare - LOUDLY- that in fact, such trash needs to be published on occasion, if for no other reason to keep those of us who hope for more open minds and thoughtful ideas, forever vigilant. We cannot and should not assume that just because it is 1999, idiotic chauvinists (of whatever creed and background) are on the wane, even in the United States.

Laleh Khalili

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September 28, 1999

* Right to be homophopic
(See revised point of view)

This is in response to the article about Iranian attitudes towards homosexuals ["Acceptance"].

Just like those people made a decision to be homosexuals, the rest of us have the right to make our own decisions about our own opinions and actions. If we wish to dislike homosexuals it is our right. If we are homophobic it is our right to be. You can't tell us how to be.

I hold the opinion that homosexuals are destroying society with their actions and those who accept them and welcome them with open arms are helping them do that.

I don't believe homosexuality is right or should be accepted. However I don't believe cruelty is right either. So therefore I personally, don't ask, don't support and don't want to know if a person is homosexual.

Freedom of opinion seems to apply to everybody except those who wish to practice it these days.

Sultan Mehrabi
(See revised point of view)

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* Chic?

So, now I have seen everything! I mean every door in Abyaneh ["Doors wide shut"]. Chic? The beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Morteza Anvari

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September 27, 1999

* Lost hope in humanity

After reading the article written by Cyrus L. Raafat ["Real Iranian girls?"], I have lost all hope in humanity, dignity, decency when it comes to men and women ...

I do not pity Mr. Rafaat, nor do I feel sorry for him. I am embarrassed for him and am quite offended that your online publication would cater to the unrealistic and delusional ramblings of a man that seems to possess little if any scruples about how the world we live in works. But, alas, I am an advocate for freedom of the press. You may publish any article you desire and I trust you will keep doing thus, however, don't expect a great deal of respect from the public when you ignore objectivity, good taste and logic by publishing Rafaat's nonsensical whims and sexual appetites, then call it a legitimate article. It parallels the pulp-tabloid-drivel that we balk at upon standing in line at the supermarket. I can see the headlines now: "Iranian-American Man Will Only Marry a Virgin!" ... FULL TEXT

S. Smith

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* Abusing Allah

In response to "Allah knows best", while there is no doubt that in the 12th century Islam was a religion that governed lands from Tajikestan to Spain with tolerance, that is certainly not the case today. It is obvious that today Islam is utilized as a means to control and suppress people, thus it is not being utilized in its intended manner.

Nowhere in the Koran does it say women should not drive vehicles, should cover themselves head-to-toe in blistering weather, need special permission to travel, or get medical attention. Certainly the Koran does not oppose couples holding hands or buying some ice cream together. Sorry, those are modern, patriarchal, repressive attitudes.

A positive clean-cut reading of the Koran shows us love and acceptance, not torment and injustice. Kadijeh was a successful business woman, who obviously "drove" horses or the like, and women were merely advised to dress "modestly".

Oppressors interpret the Koran as they like to take away personal liberties and boost their own lacking self-esteem. Do not tie Allah to your dogma. Allah does know best and those who have abused his name are the ones who need to be most concerned with their after-life.

Hamila Asad

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September 24, 1999

* Homophobia?!

Yet another typical article regurgitating the same old tired leftist rhetoric about gay rights ["Acceptance"]. In this and in all the other cases, it is never quite clear what exactly the author WANTS from the Iranian community at large. He rails against this so-called "homophobia" and heterosexism among Iranians but on the other hand he never defines exactly what "homophobia" refers to, and what Iranians should do instead.

I mean, what IS homophobia anyway? Does it refer to gay bashing and violence towards gays and lesbians? If so then Iranians are definitely not guilty of this. Does it refer to a general aversion to the idea of gay sex? Well, that is of course natural when one is heterosexual, just like the idea of sex with animals is repulsive to the average heterosexual.

Or is homophobia a label placed on people who do not wish to march down the street in "gay pride" parades and who have no desire to be activists for this issue? If that's the case, the by all means yes, Iranians are homophobic. But I don't see anything wrong with that.

The point is, I don't think the average Iranian cares greatly about the issue. I think they are satisfied that what people do in private is just that -- private. And it should be kept so. Just like what heterosexuals do in private is a private matter. Beyond that, there should be no problem.

But of course there still is a problem according to gay rights activists like this author, who want to force their ideologies onto everyone else. This borders on fascism. There is absolutely NO reason why Iranians should "support the lifestyle" of Iranian gays and lesbians (as a corollary they shouldn't preach to them either). The very idea is inane and ridiculous.

Nariman Neishabouri

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* Don't take it personally

Why can't some poor slob ever write a story, an item, an article that is a "sharhe haal" without getting shafted by the readers of this web site? I don't get it. Okay, so all you people who disagree with Alemi's "I was once an Iranian", disagree with him. I don't see the guy telling you that YOU TOO, god forbid, have "sold out."

Who's threatening the lot of you or telling you to be un-Iranian? Can't anyone take it NOT PERSONALLY? He's describing HIS feelings about HIS life and times. Why does everything ALWAYS have to be about EVERYONE. Why do we all think that things are either black or white? Isn't there a happy medium, a gray area, a balance to strike in this life? Our culture centricity will be our ultimate downfall...mark my words.

Banafsheh Zand

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September 23, 1999

* Derrida wannabe

We have another Derrida wannabe [Sohrab Mahdavi in "Lamentations of Laleh Khalili"] who has decided to write by way of aphorisms ... And he is arrogant enough to construct every sentence as if it were truth as opposed to mere conjectures on his parts...

It is ... the habit of every new generation to call the fight against or for modernity its own (Gandhi seems ancient history now, doesn't he?). Let's have a little more respect for history and not force it down every little intellectual canal we find lying around ... FULL TEXT

Ramin Tabbib

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* Mortifying

The article "Lamentations of Laleh Khalili" is mortifying because it strives to be so. It perpetuates itself through gyrations from "Messianic" time to Modern, from identity to an identity-in-absence. It is very much emblematic of the writer's desire to conquer both worlds in a single sweep, to go beyond "both" and "with" at once. In fact, Mahdavi thinks himself post-everything, nationalism, modernism, tradition, capitalism, Print, King ...

There is no need for high-flown language whose sole aim is to expose foundations, only to surpass itself in the act of doing so. This is a small community. Even if there are those who appreciate the tone and language, the majority doesn't get beyond so much as the first few lines of Mahdavi's verbiage. Lets forget who we are or who we have been, as Mahdavi would have us, but let us not forget how little we are. Man has left the realm of gods to gods, but he still finds himself subject to a predicament that can, and all-too-often-does, inspire him with awe ... FULL TEXT


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September 22, 1999

* I am shocked!

I think Mr. Salaradini is a bit unkind to Mr. Alami ["I was once an Iranian"] ; I can't see Mr. Alami toasting the Queen anytime soon, nor do I see self-hatred as Mr. Alardini has implicitly suggested. I do agree that some of Alami's remarks are naïve and inaccurate...

Example of mishmash: To call into question literary exploration of the Iranian literary cannon as evidence of some kind of reactionary tendency. I am shocked! An educated person such as Mr. Alami is surly aware of mountains of work annually amassed on such medieval stalwarts as Chaucer, Boccacio, Marlow and so forth. Entire cultural industries are erected in Western universities around obscure literary figures in Twelfth century Wales. So what is then Mr. Alami that is wrong with study of Hafez? ... FULL TEXT

Asghar Massombagi

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* Deep down: Neanderthals

This is an old article ["Real Iranian girls?"]. I found it just as repulsive then as I find it now. It saddens me that it is being re-circulated again. It makes me wonder that no matter how sophisticated, or intellectual some of us pretend to be, deep down we are just the bigoted, sexiest, Neanderthals which our sick backward religious or otherwise beliefs have so well created ... FULL TEXT

Mehrdad Erfani

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September 21, 1999

* Genuine debate

After reading Mr. Tavakoli's letter about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran, I felt so sad being an Iranian. How can this government of so-called holy men be so cruel upon our people? : - (

I think the issue of Iranian gays and lesbians most definitely is one that will grow. This is mainly due to the openness of the cultures where the Iranian diaspora live. In addition, the increasing mass-popularity and availability of the internet has opened up many possibilities among all people, even within Iran.

Gay and lesbian Iranians living in Iran now, are starting to realize that they are not alone and so-called freaks of nature and that there is a whole world of people like themselves. This was not possible a few years ago.

I think that a genuine debate on this issue is needed especially since many Iranians think they are progressive and open-minded until they are faced with gay and lesbian issues.

I have many gay and lesbian friends, and they are great people who have done no harm to anyone. Most of them tell me that they did not choose their homosexuality. In the face of such hatred and cruelty, why would they?


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* Head spinner

My head is spinning. I just got done reading another one of Laleh Khalili's rambling reviews; her ostensible critique of fast paced modernization in her article "New is good". Wieuuuuh!

What is it about her writing? Reading it has the same effect as popping high-powered speed pills. No introduction. No main theme or body. No conclusion. Just an endless, rapid fired, breakneck speed stream of harsh, ideologically laced opinions and observations. Like a diesel locomotive raging ahead with no breaks.

And to what end this stringing together of multisylabic sixteen inch words? Hard to say! But then again, modern writing is often characterized by its schizophrenic qualities!

Amir Sadri

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September 20, 1999

* New Dark Ages

This is a letter in response to YekIrani's recent article "Acceptance". Same-sex relationships are currently outlawed in 26 Islamic countries... Of the Islamic states that ban lesbian and gay sex, Iran is the most zealously homophobic. Since 1980, when the fundamentalists came to power under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed, according to estimates by the exiled Iranian homosexual rights group, Homan.... FULL TEXT

H. Tavakoli,

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September 17, 1999

* Small town in England

Sitting here reading your excellent piece ["I was once an Iranian"] in a small town library in England, has made my eyes swell with tears.

I am partly ashamed to say so, but even though you writing is cool and sufficiently distant (seeming that you have had much time to reflect on these issues) it still resonated with a certain emotion much familiar to me.

However your experience is infinitely more broader and cross-cultural and therefore must be worthy of a larger non-ethnically specific audience. A current affairs periodical me thinks.

Anyway I wrote to regeister my appreciation and admiration

Chekavak Jallaei

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* Rude awakening

While surfing the Net, I came across your website. I just wish to make the following point about "I was once an Iranian":

You consider yourself as an ex-Iranian who is now a naturalized Amercian. Maybe so, as far as your identity papers are concerned, but is this true as far as your adopted country is concerned? How deep are your roots in your adopted country? How much did your parents (not to mention your grand- or great grand-parents) have participated in making your adopted country what it is now?

You may wish, understandably, to close your eyes on these facts but your adopted country is most unlikely to do so. If you don't believe me, read about the story of the Japanese-Americans who were interned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In brief, when it comes to the national interests of your adopted country against the interests of your country of origin, you will experience a rude awakening. Would it not be easier if you accepted your true identity and left the question of Iranianness to be debated your second, third and nth generations?

N. BaghaYaz

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September 16, 1999

* Enough Rumi already

I enjoy reading The IranianTimes every day but those Rumi poems are starting toget on my nerves! Is it possible to get a poem from different poets , even modern ones, like Sepehri or Farokhzad, once in a while?

And anyway, what is this new craze among Iranians out-side of Iran, about Rumi? I know he was a great poet, but why do we elevate him to a kind of prophet-like status? Can't we live without these mythical beings? Thanks for your great work.

S Jalili

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* Go to Afghanistan

In response to the letter "Allah knows best", if Iran is such a "modern theocracy" where Allah knows best, may I ask what you are doing in the moral decay known as the United States which you described as "borderline anarchy"?

I suggest you relocate to Afghanistan where you may be one with the Taleban and there, you may continue on your way of being an ignorant and hypocritical individual who shames all Iranians with your backward beliefs and uneducated commentary.

And for the sake of all Iranian women, we really have no need of you telling us how to protect our dignity when you obviously have none yourself.

Massi Behbahani

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September 15, 1999

* Only vegetables have roots

First of all,let me congratulate you on your piece in The Iranian ["I was once an Iranian"]. I think that you have brought up some very important questions. As a kid raised in Beirut in the thirties, I had some similar experiences.

I also have felt tensions about my "multiculturality" but I think that all Iranians have some kind of ambiguity in their inner personalities. This is perhaps due to the fact that since the 7th century we have been living on a kind of "double" cultural background: Our Persian-Zoroastrian-Aryan culture and the Arab-Islamic that was added .

But I want to point out that Iranians, as well as others, are mistaken in searching for roots. I have coined the following phrase which I often use in my writings and lectures : "Only vegetables have roots"!

I agree with your distinction between migrants and immigrants. But let me tell you that the U.S. is not a melting pot. It is rather becoming a keleidoscope in which, as time goes by, all the nations of the world will be represented. (A kind of United Nations of the people of the world, not of the governments! I am preparing a piece about this idea of mine) ... FULL TEXT

Fereydoun Hoveyda

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* We are separate

I very much agree with the opinions of the gentleman who lives in Australia regarding Mr. Alemi's article ["I was once an Iranian"].

I have seen Iranians in the U.S. with similar beliefs who eventually feel emptiness and regress 180 degrees.

I would simply like to say "more power to you!" I think that we should not become part of the homogenous "blob" called Americans.

We are a seperate entity and should be proud of it.


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September 14, 1999

* Obscure fluke

I would like to comment on this matter ["Modern khaastegaari"]. Most of the people who read my article ["Real Iranian girls?"] were allowed to effectively use the most insulting and derogatory language in regards to my motives, life-style, mentality, and so forth.

It seems that there is some bias either with the readers which have shown overwhelming support for the this copy-cat story from a woman's perspective, or my many attempts to respond to the accusatory-insinuations by others commentators simply did not warrant -- in the eyes of the staff -- my effective retort, because of subjectivity. We won't know?

Let me point out that while Halima's article was interesting to a point, it does not show any of the depth and serious condition of the male population or the normalcy for khaastegaari, in my opinion, with the expatriate Iranians. The reason being is that NO MAN in Iran, legitimately, from my observation, seriously considers girls in the West to be equals morally, or conversly monitarily.

So cases of Iranian men inside Iran marrying girls from overseas are very rare proportionally to that of expatriate Iranian guys getting nice-girls from Iran. This is expected because the value is not in the mundane issues, but in the ability for the future spouse to truly satisfy the wishes of the future family.

So in all honesty, Halima's article, is of no credible value in whether it is "modern khaastegaari" or not, because it can never be considered a trend or norm. In my case, I have now added nine Iranian-American guy-friends who have since gone to Iran and gotten engaged or married girls. Her case is an obscure fluke!

Cyrus Raafat

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* Halloween NOT Persian

Just a line to explain: the word Halloween is a Gaelic derivation of the middle English expression "All Hallow's Eve", which conotes the night before November 1st which in itself is the druidic day of the dead or in other word, all saints day. Just so you know.

Banafsheh Zand

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September 13, 1999

* Subservient and self-depricating

My intention is by no means to insult Mr Alemi ["I was once an Iranian"]. I am sure he is an intelligent man who will appreciate honest criticism albeit criticism in a rather robust tone. Mr Alemi has written a self-indulgent piece in the worst tradition of orientalism. He reminds me of the line " Goftaa ze cheh naaleem keh az maast keh bar maast!"

He wants to be American. What is that exactly? Sure, there are flowery slogans like "the American Dream" and "the American Way of Life", but these are merely verbose masks for a migrant country's inability to define herself. Unless you are a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) , preferably one whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, you can not be "American" only. You are an Italian American, a Jewish American, a Black American, an Irish American.... So why does one's Iranian ethnicity in conflict with being American?...

Mr Alemi reminds me of the Indians and Pakistanis who go to GPS schools in Sydney. They try so hard to be more British than the British. They are all obsessed with cricket, they are staunch monarchists (Last night I was nauseated when one toasted "Gentlemen, the Queen!"), they glorify the Westminster system and all the while they speak of how their respective countries were better off under British rule. The only time they acknowledge their Indian heritage is to impress someone who is fashionably into eastern mysticism or the like. Yet they are rediculed by all. Afforded no more than the vilest contempt. I hate to think that our most educated will similarly end up subservient and self-depricating ... FULL TEXT

Arash Salardini

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* Who needs Einstein?

Could you please expand further on your research [Halloween is Persian]? Particularly on the "tunneling technique" used to link Anglo-Saxon traditions through the satanic/pagan undertones of Halloween to Kadoo Halvaee? Could the candle in the pumpkin be attributed to the Zoroastrian tradition of reverence for fire?

Through the ground-breaking "lexicography" of Masoumeh Haqshenas and Kaveh Bayat [Khiyaar chambar] - we are witnessing the dawn of a new science: "Cultural Tunneling"! Although they missed another scientifically well-established parable: Hitler was Iranian and from Kerman - Hitler Germani aka Hitler Kermani!! Most effectively explained as a "genetic remnant" of Timur's famed invasion and slaughter of Kerman!

Recently another publication from Iran claimed that Molavi's usage of the term "Zarineh" alludes to his understanding of "quanta" - i.e. quantum mechanics and the physics of elementary particles. This is quite interesting, since the Sufist non-deterministic interpretation of life and nature relates well to the dualities of modern Physics.

Perhaps Cultural Tunneling can be classified as a subcategory to the "Certainty Principle", the counterpart to "uncertainty principle" - the cornerstone of modern physics explaining the tunneling of particles through insurmountable barriers! The Certainty Principle proves that most (if not all) scientific, cultural and folk traditions "tunnel back to" Iran. Honar Nazdeh Iranian Hasto Bass!!

Who needs Einstein?

Nader Pakdaman

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September 10, 1999

* Halloween is Persian

Not only words but entire Western traditions are derived from Persian customs ["Khiyaar chambar"]. Take for example Halloween, it is in fact taken from the old Persian feast of "halvaeen" celeberated around the harvest time of "kadoo halvaee". Even today the pumkin is a symbol of the Halloween celeberations.

Farhad Ayrom

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* For brainless Iranians

I was checking your website & on your home page and under the heading Latest Features....Letters..., there was a chap called Amin who had written his disgusting & shameful opinion using very bad language (cheshmemoon koor, koonemoon besooze, ...khaak bar sar ...).

He may be an idiot (and I am sure he is), but should you not think twice about putting these stupid letters & suggestions on your site? A lot of people will be looking at your site, searching for useful & interesting material.

How can you display such lavatorial opinions on your first page? Would you print a letter from some sick people who make fun of others? What kind of editorial are you running? It's a shame to call your site The Iranian paper. Better change it to brain-less paper for brain-less Iranians.


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September 9, 1999

* Ten years from now

Your piece was amazing ["I was once an Iranian"]. It was as though you articulated everything that I suspect I will be thinking ten years from now, or something like that. I too, am a product of two cultures. I am Iranian, but was raised in the U.S.-- we came here beofre the revolution, but stayed here through it as a consequence of it.

I grew up sort of on the other side of you, where I always wondered why, in America, they hated Iran so much. So, I took it upon myself in the midst of my American eduation to discover my roots and decide for myself.

I think you are right in that you don't need roots in America, but because of my "dream-like memory of the past" I wanted to undnerstand so badly that I sought out my roots. I think this saved me, and today helps me define who I am. Even if that is a juxtposition of many things.

Your article was very thought-provoking and made me reflect on similar things. But, you know, not all Iranian-Americans seem to think this deeply about bi-culturalism or take the tinme to define who they are. They seem to stick to one culture or the other, or rather they take the bad parts of American culture and exploit them, merely because they can.

I have a hard time finidng Iranians I can relate to in all levels. As a result, it was promising to read your piece.

Lobat Asadi

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* So true

I was going through The Iranian and I read the article "After all, I am Iranian". It was writen so nicely and so true. Even though I have only been here for five years I have grown a lot here. Still, I don't dare call myself Iranian-American cuz I am still an Iranian. I feel the same pride.

This was so obvious that my roommate this past year called me a complete Iranian nationalist. He was telling me how excited I got about every news or event about iran. I guess we all have that pride and invaders have not had the power to take it away.

I was also moved by the couple of articles you had of Hadi Farahani and very simple yet so pleasant Sadaf Abbassian. Really awesome.

Behnam Farahpour

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September 8, 1999

* Can we contribute anything?

I very much enjoyed reading your article, on "I was once an Iranian". It's interesting to see that we all suffer from the same internal conflicts. It's funny though, life here in the U.S. brings me closer and closer to home, yet it distances some people like you.

Maybe my experiences have been different from yours. I am definitely not your literary equivalent. I went to an international school until sixth grade, somewhat like you, albeit less rigorous of a curriculum. And, I am a born citizen of the U.S.

I think part of where our difference may lie is in the fact that my parents never secretly had any lust for the Western world. They have always been Mossadeghi and nationalistic. I do also, as you beautifully described, see how many people like my parents or Iranians in general are so stuck on our greatness that we have failed to excel and advcance with the rest of the world.

What is a hybrid? Where does the problem begin? Is it from the West? Is it our own doing? How do we fix it? Do we contribute to the lack of progress in our country by turning our back on it, and adopting America's ideals? Can we contribute anything at all to the growth of Iran? Does "ghatreh ghatreh jam shavad, vaangahi daryaa shavad" hold true for our individual efforts?

I do not have the answers, and don't claim to be an expert. However, you raise real issues and questions, and that is both inspirational, and mind boggling. I haven't been able to grasp what the best of both worlds is, and I fear that my quest and yours may not provide answers in this life time.

Your article was the most enjoyable I have read in a long time.

Varshasb Broumand, MD
Nashville, TN

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* No melting pot in Germany, Sweden

Guive Mirfendereski, in his article "Cucumbers & tomatoes" raises interesting points about immigration and assimilation. As he rightly pointed out, the reason behind the move to exile is highly reflective in the assimilation process. But so is the geographical/cultural location of the host country.

For example, immigrants in Germany (using the example of Iranian refugees rather than the Turks) have not joined that salad bowl for a variety of reasons possibly outside their control. Germany has geographically (intentionally) located refugees in housing projects outside cities. The isolation has had an alienating influence on the second generation as well.

Sweden's examples are even worse, whereas England has had a successful rate of assimilation as has France (to a lesser degree). The U.S. being historically a migration pot, is a different case and has had the most democratic and successful case study so far (& possibly Australia). But one thing is for sure, the more varied the cultures, the more tasty the salad!

It's good to have access to such a range of opinions published in The Iranian.

Nargess Shahmanesh

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September 7, 1999

NOTE: I have received several emails congratulating the 4th anniversary of The Iranian. I am offering two of them; one from Dr. Esmail Nooriala and another from dAyi Hamid because they include a bit of history. My sincere thanks to all for being so kind and generous. JJ

* Traveler of tomorrow

Dear JJ (Jahanshah Javid),

To be honest with you, I see a reflection of my younger days in what you do. I am now 57 years old. (I cannot believe it but it is true.) And you remind me of my days when I was 22. When was that? A good 35 years ago. How old are you? Were you born then?

I and a few friends of mine -- a bunch of students at Tehran University, people like Bahram Beizaie, Mohammad Ali Sepanlou, Ahmad Reza Ahmadi, Nader Ebrahimi, Nasser Shahinpar, Akbar Radi, Dariush Ashuri -- had decided to publish our own periodical. Like yours, it was a self-imposed crusade. We had decided that our periodical should be called "Torfeh" meaning "new". Selecting a name reflects the necessities of the time as you conceive them.

And what came out of that venture a few years later? The "New Wave Poetry" (Mowj e No) was born, the new cinema of Iran was established, the modern Iranian theatre was enhanced and the new ways of Farsi novel-writing was experienced ...

I write this to make you aware of a future that is not far from us. What will you and your readers think about these present days? Who will remember you and appreciate what you did? I am sure your endeavors will be a part of the history of our life in exile.

You live in today but you are a traveler of tomorrow. That is why what you do in every hour of your present life will be weighed by the people of another day, when you are turning into an old man and your computers are no more considered to be the most advanced means of communication ... FULL TEXT

Esmail Nooriala

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* Big fat hairy happy birthday

I used to be a regular subscriber to Soc.Culture.Iranian (SCI), the most visited Iranian usenet newsgroup. Sometime in mid 1995 there was a strange message from an unknown silent reader called Jahanshah Javid who announced plans to start a new Iranian magazine and asked SCIers to contribute articles.

Ah, I thought, another single-page magazine with articles talking about how the Iranian government is blah blah and how America is tati tata. Not everybody thought the same way. There were some flamers who started belittling the guy's magazine and calling him a "mozdur" of the regime: "He used to work for them, he must be a spy or something." ...

Like everything else in life, The Iranian has changed over the past four years. It has transformed from a shy, careful magazine to a taboo-breaking, freedom-fighting frontier, and I'm proud to be one of its first contributors ... FULL TEXT

dAyi Hamid

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September 6, 1999

* Very insulting

I believe that this "work" of pseudo-Iranian Western cooking is very insulting ["Rice, Iranian style"].

It has been twenty years since the successful changing and reshaping of our society, and there are still reactionaries who believe that the British caused a revolution in which two million common people (not 10,000 college students) poured out into the streets demanding rights and liberties of man.

Being an Iranian of the non-LA community, I find it interesting how the Iranian and Western society has molded into this comical mess of customs and everyday living.

A. Abedin

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* Hold the mirror

You are right on the money when you say Iranians do not like Jews ["I must be a Jew"]. But you should remember most of this nonesense has religious roots which is being fed by hard-core Hezbollahis and repeated by brainless stupid people who really don't mean it.

Iranians as a people have never been bigots or hate-mongers. But religious intolerance is basically driven by the mollas and their supporters who unfortunately these days rule Iran and carry on their self-declared religious war all around the world.

Keep up the good work and continue to hold the mirror in the face of all Iranian Jew-haters and let them see how ugly and criminal their thinking is.

Kambiz B

September 3, 1999

* Smoke or fire?

I think the conclusions of the author ["Culture of Karbala"] are rather one dimensional and overly generalizing.

1- In respect to culture of martyrdom, we Iranians or shi'ites are not alone in our praise of martyrs, by any standard. Every culture has its own martyrs upheld as archetypes. Christianity's praise of martyrdom starts with Jesus and continues with St. Peter. African Americans revel in martyrdom of ML King and Malcolm X. Even JFK is considered by some to be a martyr, and his disciples are not shi'ites! And furthermore, how is praising archetypes/martyrs a sign of rejecting modernism?

2- The recent student movement in Iran did not represent Shi'ites vs. others (i.e. Sunnis, Moguls, Arabs, etc.) as Hossein's odyssey across Karbala did. It was political in-fighting brought onto streets by supporters of each side. This was not a revolution. This was actually closer to the fight of Ali vs. Omar over leadership of Islam which led to the rise of Abu-Bakr, but let's not get into that!

The first step leading to a revolution is the deterioration of legitimacy of a state in the perception of the people it rules. IRI is still considered the legitimate heir to a legacy set in motion by Ayatollah Khomeini. The only attack against the legitimacy of the IRI from within the Iranian people (the 97% that don't live in affluent suburbs) came when the concept of Velayat-e-faqih was openly challenged by some of the demonstrators. This challenge was quickly hushed even by opponents of the hard-liners in Iran, further enforcing the legitimacy of the regime.

Let's not confuse smoke with fire.

Ramin Tabib

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* Shah let people hold hands

In response to Kazem Mansouri's letter "Allah knows best", I suppose getting a girl pregnant when you aren't ready is certainly not a good idea. But preventing one from being able to do such a simple thing as hold hands to express love is certainly an invasion of one's deepest, most sacred rights.

You speak of freedom as if it was something that has boundaries. And who are you to decide what is "divine" and what is "human?" Where do you get your information from? The mollas who pound ideals of Islam-e aziz into every Iranians head, everyday?

You seem to forget that before the revolution, these same mollas were living in abject poverty and giving a sermon to whoever threw a few rials at their feet. Today, they are taking the hard earned money of the Iranian people and putting into their Swiss bank accounts, like the Shah of old. At least that scumbag of a Shah let people hold hands and walk down the street.

Iranians are living in a society that is against free speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of sex, and in short, freedom of LIFE. You harbor no ideas derived from yourself, but borrow morals, ideals, and even a borrowed God taken from the Arabs, sit and type out what freedom should mean to the people. We cannot let these complete idiots decide what is best for US anymore.

We used to be the most progressive, innovative people on earth under the Achaimenids and Sassanians. These laughable, ignorant peoples who still believe that you have no right to think and do freely are trying to drag Iranians down to the pits of blind faith, where anything a Muslim says goes, and everything else is heretical. They are trying to put MUSLIM before IRANIAN.


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September 2, 1999

* Insulting you-know-who

First of all I must commend you on the quality of your work. It is truly refreshing to see writing of quality and content within a liberal framework where everyone gets the opportunity to contribute. However, dAyi Hamid's article on Iranian women ["Loving an Iranian girl"] is demeaning and insulting to all of us. Even though I love satire and have enjoyed his sometimes controversial quotes, I believe he has gone too far in his generalisations.

His comments may be a reflection of himself more than the subjects he calls Iranian women. As a man who was married to an Iranian woman and subsequently divorced because she was a pain in the you-know-what, and has had plenty of other relationships, I still would never allow myself to generalise as Hamid did, especially in the context of a satirical column.

Writing and getting published is a privilege and a writer of any stance has a duty toward the society. But to be judgemental the way Hamid has been is very immature and his comments reveal a man of many shortcomings, to compensate for which he has chosen Iranian women and his many (!!) superficial relationships.

I was in Switzerland only last week and I met many Iranian girls. they were coping as well as they could in their new country. Just like all of us, they were not perfect. And it would be futile to expect them to have maintained their chastity in the traditional and highly questionable old (!) ways.

Hypocrisy has always exsisted in our society, but that covers men as equal, if not more than, women. the Iranian girls residing overseas are subject to the same social forces and influences that the average non-Iranian girls. They should not be expected to behave much differently. But they actually do. I believe they can maintain their head way up high if compared to the average Iranian man. I still would never marry one again, since I still consider most of them a pain in the you-know-what. But that's another story.

I therefore hope that as a very well-read publication, you are more selective in your choice of articles. The implications with which Hamid's article is riddled with is not much different to other insulting and socially unacceptable behaviour as anti-Semitism, anti-Bahai or racial prejudice which are not allowed easy publication in any democracy.

Vahid Pourghadiri

PS: Tell Hamid that next time I'm in Switzerland, I'll look him up!

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* Very ordinbary

The "Modern khaastegaari" story was very flat; nothing special happened, in my opinion. The writer does not have a purpose or conclusion except other than sharing her experience which was very oridinary.

L. Matt

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September 1, 1999

* Like father like daughter

Personally, I would like to thank you for writing this article ["A bitter bite"]. I must admit that not unlike some friends you have mentioned, I have also become somewhat accustomed to, or numbed by, these breaches of ethical boundaries in Iranian cinema. But your article did remind me of the strong pangs of unease I felt during Salaam Cinema. This is a tall tale, and I find that ethical concerns are usually the most troublesome to convey ...

The technique of blurring the line between fiction and documentary which, if I am correct, Kiarostami first used in his films, and was then taken on by Mohsen Makhmalbaaf to newer, more creative heights, has managed to blur another parallel line - between what is ethical and un-ethical ...

Mohsen Makhmalbaaf has evolved in many ways during the years. But ethical evolution takes much more time than the ideological one. In Samira Makhmalbaf's Apple I sensed the strong presence of her father throughout the film. This influence can of course be both positive and negative in the work of the daughter. She is all too young for it to be otherwise. But it would seem that it takes if not a complete, but at least a serious break from the ways of the previous generation, to set one on an independent path of growth and discovery, and perhaps, more evolution ... FULL TEXT

Mandana Kamangar

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* Farsi: wrong and ugly

Please change all the words "Farsi"'s in your English text to "Persian". According to Encyclopaedia Iranica scholors and also those at University of Tehran, it is wrong to use "Farsi" in English. In my opinion it is also ugly since it is an Arabic word replacing the pretty word of Persian. Please promote this recommendation to all the media that unknowingly use Farsi instead of Persian.

Ali Mohseni

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