July 27, 2000
Iran not armpit of universe
you wrote and I'm sorry that you were exposed to the harshness of "Not
Without My Daughter"!
I saw the movie with my (then) girlfriend, Susan, back when it first
came out! We didn't know what type of message or image it contained about
Iran but I literally held my head down and ran out of the theater.
Susan and I got married in 1996 and she (who is a blonde native of Texas,
USA) went to Iran with me for a visit in the Summer of 1997. Susan loved
her treatment in Iran by my family and everyone else who came in contact
with her, but she can comment to you directly about that.
We now have an adorable 7 month old baby boy who proudly carries the
"Iranian-American" ethnic designation and we fully intend to
make sure that he learns the Persian language, visits Iran and stays in
touch with his father's cultural roots!
I don't know what happened in Dr. Mahmoodi and his wife Betty's marriage
but they apparently had a rocky marriage and not much harmony in their
lives' goals and future plans. Furthermore, he seemed to be coming from
an ultra religious Muslim family in Iran which is a minority by any statistical
The first point to note is that Iran does not look like the armpit of
the universe, as depicted in the movie. It is much cleaner and prettier;
ask my wife! Secondly, note the fact that the husband, Dr. Mahmoodi, has
countered and denied a great majority of his wife's so called "true
story" and even accuses her of being hateful and untruthful in her
book and the subsequent motion picture! The incorrect depiction of Iranian
society and street scenes, as well as some of the cultural facts that are
stated in the dialogue, is clearly geared towards making the story more
heart breaking and believable, in an attempt to sell the book, etc.
Thirdly, when I was in Iran back in the Fall of 1998 (Christmas), the
national Iranian TV network broadcasted a documentary miniseries which
was a response to the movie "Not Without My Daughter" and included
interviews with actual neighbors of the couple when they lived in Tehran,
co-workers, Matob's school mates and teachers, etc. etc. The overwhelming
majority of people swore that non of the violence depicted in the movie
did not happen in public and up until the end the wife seemed far away
from the evident misery that she accounts in her book/movie. Which product
would you be more likely to believe, a documentary with real people talking
in the street, classroom, their home or a fictional production from Hollywood's
I also believe that the whole endevour may very well be the product
of the nasty propaganda and political lobby peddling that goes on in this
country's media and on the Capitol Hill against each other by different
Middle East political factions (ex. The powerful Jewish lobby, the Arab
lobby against the perceived threat from then Khomeini's threat - early
1990's - and even the Iranian exile - the supporters of monarchy - who
needed to portray a dark ages and religious decadent picture of Iranian
society under the current theocracy in the U.S. and Western public opinion!)
The fourth point is that she made millions from her book, the movie
and ridiculous speaking engagements as an expert in international child
abductions!! All the while, the father has offered a number of resolutions,
including getting visitations of his daughter in a European country for
a couple of days under supervision, but Betty is the abductor now.
But at the end I would like to emphasize that I don't question or downplay
the possibility that she may have really been an abused wife and done wrong,
but she shouldn't have dragged an entire nation, their culture and their
reputation in mud to get back at her husband.
That was my (long!) two cents.