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June 21, 2001

* Having your cake and...

I have read, in utter disbelief, some of the comments regarding Leila Pahlavi and the Pahlavis in general. The most unfair comments were those comparing Leila Pahlavi with Princess Diana. I am sorry but this is NOT a fair compariosn. ["Diana not"]

Diana became a princess and was allowed to stay in her own country even after her divorce. She, unlike the Pahlavis, was not thrown out by the people of her country and was able to use her name and influence and position to help chartitable causes. This courtsey was sadly not extended to the Pahlavis.

Can someone please explain -- how could Leila or any other member of the Pahlavi family involve themselves with charitable causes or organisations inside or outside Iran considering they and anyone associated with them will be strung up from the nearest tree or castigated at the mere mention of their name? And how do you know whether or not the Pahlavis have privately been involved in any charitable causes since 1979 ?

Also, it is complete biensaafi to say that this family has never done anything for the people of Iran for it is a fact that Farah Pahlavi, even according to Pahlavi haters, did more for the poor and charitable causes than anyone else before or since the Pahlavis?

Considering the gratitude that the Iranian people extended to her and her family, it is amazing that the same people who had a hand in the clamity of 1979 can now turn around and criticise the family for not helping Iranians! I am sure that the same people would have been the first to criticise -- with cries of sell out and traitor -- any organisation that associated itself with any of the Pahlavis.

Let's stop being hypocrites . If you hate the Pahlavis, if you turf them out of the country and wish death upon them, if you call the Shah the bloodsucker of the century and his noble wife a whore and all their supporters traitors, then do not expect them to carry on "working" for you and the people of Iran. That is called having your cake and eating it.

London, England

* Misplaced nostalgia

A big thank you and warm congratulations to Ms. Sabety's succinct analysis of a hapless young woman, who lived a life of oblivion, and is now being celebrated in death "Diana not".

I believe, as do many other Iranians, that we would be doing the deceased a disfavor, by comparing her to Princess Diana, who despite serious personal problems and setbacks, devoted a large portion of her time, to making the world a better place.

We can go on and on about the virtues and capabilities of people like Princess Diana, but that's not the point. Ms. Sabety clearly illustrates the stigma of the "princess Leilas"; glamorizing, "martyrizing", or placing such a person on a pedestal, once they have passed on, is wrong, and is a poor attempt at hanging on to misplaced nostalgia.

Sincerely yours,

Borzoo Elahi

* Depression not exclusive to celebrity

It's such a shame that sometimes people cannot stop putting pen on paper, the outcome of which would be the diehrrea of the pen. But in case of Ms. Sabety's recent masterpiece "Diana not", it goes much farther than that.

Although she mentions the fact that "no one likes anyone who uses a death, however symbolically laden it may be, to prove a socio-political point", but her article has the reverse effect. I had never read a more irrelevant passage as Ms. Sabety's soul-searching nonsense. Thanks a lot for having metaphysical cantacts with the heaven to the point that you "also realized that maybe Leila herself would want her death to be put in perspective".

Ms. Sabety has diagnosed the cause of Anerroxia Nervosa and depression as "the superficiality of life at court and in the lime light, the neglect that children of the really wealthy feel due to their parents never having enough time for them, the enormous pressure to look good -- all of these could lead to depression and eating disorders.".

Thanks for the hypothesis, but just for your information millions of young people here in Iran show symptoms of Aneroxia and depression, wothout being born into the royalty. They are certainly not "children of dictators and ambassadors and Hollywood stars".

What I gather form her statement is that there are only the children of the nobility or the royalty who care for face lifts and nose jobs. I dont know how long she has been far away from her country, but you can see young and middle-aged women with plastic surgeries everywhere. Not all of them come from rich families. I know a lady who sold her wedding ring to have a jaw job.

Sabety says, "We must teach them (our daughters) to look for answers in Ale Ahamad and Farrokhzad, Rumi and Hafez, rather than the pages of Mademoiselle and Elle. We must teach them pride in who they are and where they come from. We must teach them that life is about being able to name your feelings and being proud of them." Sorry but I have to thank her again to disclose the roots of depression for the young girls so skillfully.

Dear Ms. Sabety,

You made a big mistake in your quasi-soul-analysis, and that is the fact that Leila Pahlavi was a human being and like anybody else could be exposed to depressing conditions. Maybe her mother just told us the truth that the loss of her father started the whole thing.

There are hundreds of thousands of depressed people out there. Leila was one of them. You just used this sad occasions to show us your grievances with the nobility, from which yourself come from (I presume). You made another even bigger mistake and that was putting pen on the paper without enough thinking.

Next time you want to pick up that pen you'd better bite your finger harder, maybe it makes you wake up form your delirious dreams.

Nima Arab

* Exaggerating Diana's importance

Ms. Sabeti's article "Diana not" is a fine and well written commentary. Her points in regard to Western artificiality and the pressure of looking beautiful in the Iranian society are well taken. However, I have a problem with the comparison to the late Princess Diana.

Ms. Sabeti states that the Iranians should not compare Leila to Diana and exaggerate her achievements. She states that Leila did not do charity work and never kissed babies with AIDS. Therefore, any comparison between the two is out of question. I agree with Ms. Sabeti that Leila should not be compared to Diana by the Iranians. I also know she did not do charity work.

However, I must add that Diana herself was not exactly a perfect role model. She was a insecure woman who hated her life as royal and tried to get away from it all the time. I know she kissed the babies with AIDS, but it is a well known fact that she also loved publicity and beautiful clothes. What better publicity than to show up glamorously in front of cameras and kissing babies.

It is interesting to note that whenever she was doing charity work she never failed to look beautiful and glamorous. Therefore, at least to me, she never seemed sincere. It was tragic that Mother Theresa, who died shortly after Diana, did not receive half the recognition the princess received by the American and the British media. As with the Iranians, the British immortalized their princess in death and exaggerated her importance.

Finally, as far I know most of the British family members do charity work since it constitutes part of their duties. Therefore, Diana was not exactly stepping out of ordinary behavior of the British Royal Family. It was expected of the wife of the heir to the throne of England to perform some sort of charity work. With all the wealth and security the British royalty possess, it is not too hard for them to give away a bit.

In brief, I am not saying Diana was not kind, but the tone and especially the title of the article by Mrs. Sabeti exaggerates her importance.


* Flawed priorities

C.B.'s letter is extremely accurate, and to the point ["Rich little brat"]. When our best and brightest young women such as Mehrangiz Kar are languishing in the corner of hellish Evin prison in support of the freedom of speech, and support of rule of law, how can you so-called intellectual hamvatans even waste your time and ink on a rich woman who never knew what the meaning of work was?

How can you shed tears for the poor little girl who had to stay at $800 a night hotel rooms for months at a time? How can you be indifferent to the fate of Akbar Gangi who at this moment is being tortured at Evin Prison? How can you elevate a nobody to the status of sainthood when our real saints died in eight years of war with Iraq defending their sacred land?

This shows how our priorities are flawed. I was only 10 when the revolution happened in Iran, but I know for a fact that the Shah and his family, with their disregard for freedom of speech and rule of law, were the main reason for the revolution in Iran and its aftermath. Let's not forget that.

Zendeh Baad Azaadi, Zendeh baad Fekr va Andisheh.


* Most effective and quite elegant

I would greatly appreciated if you would include this comment about Setareh Sabety "Diana not". I have been admirer of her writings and believe people like her should be heard and acknowledged for having the courage to speak their mind about issues that most of us choose to be indifferent about.

Dear Ms. Sabety,

For sometime now, I have found myself drawn to your writings posted in I have often asked myself, what is it about your articles that makes me eager to read them. Not only that, I even print them and keep them in a special folder name "KEEPER" with the rest of the articles that have interested me throughout the years. Hopefully some days in my retirement when I am sitting quietly and sipping tea in Iran, I can re-visit these articles and read them again.

I have come to recognize my interest in reading and my desire to save your articles. It is the combination of several factors. Your writings are most effective and quite elegant. Through out the years, I have not seen very many Iranians whom have archived such magnificent display of penmanship. Equally important, is the depth of your knowledge and understanding about Iran and the willingness to verbalize them.

I would like to congratulate your parents for having instilled in you the Iranian values which are rare commodities these days among the Iranian of all kinds, specially women. Perhaps the depth of my admiration should directly aim at you for having maintained and preserved your traditional Iranian values, for having the courage to speak your mind and to stand where most people fall, specially the Iranian women.

Abbas F. Saffari

* Inability to discuss with reason

I have read and continue reading the discussion spawned through the article "Leila's last ride". As a respondent to that article I have received numerous hate mails filled with the most illogical fantasy imaginable. I have just read the letter by Azar. It is very interesting.

However, my letter is misquoted as reference "Sympathy, disgust" and I would like this stated before my box fills with more hatred filled email from lost Iranians spilling their years of frustration on me. As a last comment I would like to address Mr. Hakimi of Norway ["Keep your perverted opinion"] who has been so kind as to send me some of the most amazing discourse on history ever written.

I find particular insult in his wish to keep "foreigners" out of any discussion. His assumption that anyone with a non-Iranian sounding name is a foreigner and therefore not entitled to any opinion is really offensive. This especially from a person who lives in a country not his birth land. Shame.

One thing about Iranians that has always hit me hard is the apparent inability to read or discuss with reason. Almost everyone is so overheated that almost any debate becomes a mud slinging war. It is pitiful and perhaps just one more reason Iran has never enjoyed democracy.

Kind rgards,


* How dare you?

I am really appalled at the boldness shown by Mohsen Makhmalbaf ["Limbs of no body"]: he is poking his knows in matters he knows nothing about. He has never lived in Afghnestan; he is not an Afghan man; how dare he take up the cross on behalf of Afgan people and oppose what may or may not appear right in the eyes of Afghans and their government? Why shoudl this narrow minded Iranian film maker who is in desparate need of publicity for his new film think he can get involved in matters he knows nothing about? He is indeed a typical Iranian man who thinks he knows it all, doesn't he? On the other hand come to think of it, Mohsen Makhmalbaff is a shameless Iranian man who has on numerous occasions actively put down Afghan people: for instance in Dastfuroush or the Peddler in which Iranian actors and actresses play roles which should have been played by Afghan artists simply because it was about a circ-e-Afghani.

I am indeed both amazed and appalled at the guts Mohssen Makhmalbaf is showing yet again. Can someone please tell me; answer me: Akheh... how can he forget that not long ago, in fact only 21 years ago, he was one of hundreds of Islamic Iranians who did to Iran what Talaban is now doing to Afghan? Who will dare think or say that Talaban is worse than our own Ayat ullah Khalkhaly? The Afghan people or Talaban movement are only imitating what Mohsen Makhmalbaff and his like did to Iran 21 years ago proudly and defiantly. So why should now Talaban be a bad movement or person, while Makhmalbaf and his likes considered themselves heroes up until ten or twelve years ago for doing the same thing as Talaban is doing now? >>> FULL TEXT

Rana Bahar

* Keep incense burning

We cannot pick the peaches of hope that ripen every five thousand years. We can only keep the incense BURNING. ["Limbs of no body"]

Bakhtiari Rose

* No center

Why with most of us things have to be all the way to the right or far to the left? Consider how we evaluate the previous regime; we often hear two totally different views. Some find nothing nice to say about that time while others think the Shah's regime was the best thing ever happened to the human race. We have the same sort of categorization and absolute view about Iran-US relations, religions, the current regime in Iran, the opposition, and most every other political, social and cultural issues that we talk about, regardless of the depth of our knowledge about the subject.

"Ya Roomi-e Room, Ya Zangi-e Zang" is how things have to be with us. That may be one of the reasons we keep missing the boat. Not knowing exactly how things are, makes it difficult, if not impossible, to correct the mistakes and to work for a better future. We need to realize that the real world is not all black and white, and reorganize that it is more flexible than we are used to. We need to look at things from different angles and find out what part of it works for us and what need change. To see a better Iran and better Irani, tomorrow, we must learn a better way of looking. One side effect of the Absolute Vision is trying, or rather forcing, to make connection between issues that really have nothing or very little to do with each other. This, I see a lot of. Just read the "Letters" section of the once in a while to see how simple things change to blockbuster social issues or future forming political revolutions. Some example >>> FULL TEXT

Ray Irani

* Reader in the dark

Humm! Let me understand this, the author ["Hengam"] justifies not giving ANY references in order to prevent intellectual theft... and in the meantime leaves the reader (patronizing or not) of his article totally in the dark as to whether he has committed the same, while even more ironically, dishes out "collective punishment" to all readers, implicitly calling everyone a thief!

Since when blind trust has become a norm in honest and transparent communication? And yes every act of displaying and sharing your gifts with the public carries the risk of abuse. Even Ferdowsi gave his references! I also resent the author's extremely patronizing undertone.

All I was doing was giving an honest critique of a valuable scholarly contribution in order to make it more valuable.


Moji Agha

* Hypocrite

In reference to Mr. Faryad's ["Reality check"], all I can say is "what a hypocrite"!?


* Annoying ads

As you have heard it over and over again, your site is really one of the best sites available to Iranians. I can't wait to get to work every day to visit your site.

I just have one small negative comment. The ads that are placed to the left hand side or both sides of the screen are a little annoying when they keep flashing and changing faces. It really makes it annoying and hard to concentrate when I'm reading an article and there are a hundred things flashing and changing in the margin!

I suggest you put only non-flashing ads there.



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