Sehaty Foreign Exchange


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June 22, 2001

* Hell on earth

What is taking place in Afghanistan, and the lack of concerted world community's response, is something that, soon or later, going to weigh heavily on the vigilant conscious of humanity ["Limbs of no body"]. The same kind of collective shame that has haunted souls ever since Holocaust. Not wanting to equate what is going on in Afghanistan with that of Holocaust, I am at a loss to find another befitting single defining word for it.

If wonton killing on a massive scale is a prerequisite, it is taking place in Afghanistan. If setting ablaze entire villeges and towns with its old and infirmed inhabitants is another, that too has and is taking place. The last major one being the town of Yekavland, only a few days ago. If intentionally starving the population or forced immigration/flight due to fear is yet another criteria, well that too is there on a massive scale.

Let's not delude ourselves, a full blown Holocaust is taking place in Afghanistan as we are sitting here chatting about finer things in life. I used to think how could Holocaust be allowed to take place in the 20th century. Well, I now know how. We as Iranians must keep in mind that the dark clouds will be one day lifted from our country and that of our historical / cultural and I dare to say genetic sister/brother country, Afghanistan. We then have to live with our collective conscious, and be able to look at an Afghan in the eye >>> FULL TEXT

Shahriar Zangeneh

* What about tragedies in Iran?

Great essay! Bravo Mohsen. Your article ["Limbs of no body"] has been very informative and heartbreaking. It is rather encouraging to see Iranians to be interested in the Afghan's misfortunes.

I do not contradict any of your comments on social, economical or humanitarian aspects of Afghanistan. I have not seen the movie "Kandahar" as yet, but sure you must have made a good job of it.

You mentioned a British girl in your report who was making artificial limbs and arms for the Afghans. Well I do admire that girl who has given up her easy life, family and friends and gone to offer her outmost helping hand in a primitive society (as you've put it).

Now what are you going to offer the Afghans?1 Are you ready to give up your loved ones, your wealth and more wealth to go and help that dying nation? Will you take on some of those poor kids and raise them under your custody?

Mr. Makhmalbaf,

Do we really have to go so far to shake hands with poverty and death? Please look around yourself in Iran. Look at your next door neighbor (provided you don't live in Darakeh / Zaferanieh) who is struggling to buy a kilo of meet! Why don't you make a documentary about the Iranian national resources and how it is being sabotaged / mismanaged and under what circumstances Iranians are coping with poverty.

Will you try and present a true democracy documentary to the Iranians and their social rights and set a good example of democracy for not only Afghanistan but also the region. Why not make a documentary of brain drains that is taking place in Iran and discuss the causes. I suppose not.

All you have mentioned in regards with Afghanistan may well be totally accepted but it brings great sorrow and grief upon a lot of us that you have gone miles away to look for desperation.

Finally, I see two sides to your movie and article. Is it because you are really concerned for the deprived? If so, I do strongly recommend that you start with presentation of unjust and inhuman treatment of your fellow country men and women to the world and perhaps you engage yourself in another revolution, but this time for people and not a god that has not listened to the cries of the Iranians for the past two decades.

Would you care to express the voice of a BRAVE nation that is crying out to be heard but everyone seems to be deaf. Would you care to make a movie with the title "Compulsory religion in Iran" or "Humiliation of a nation in the name of religion" or "The misfortunes of Iran under a religious republic"? I suppose not.

If you are after fame and wealth, then I wish you all the best and prosperity in your future.

Mr. Makhmalbaf, as the English saying goes "Pull the other one".

R. Namvar

* Gross exaggeration

This is in reference to "How dare you?" by Rana Bahar. Exactly what evidence do you (Rana) have to say that Mohsen Makhmalbaf belonged to a gang of "fundamental Islamists"? I was not aware of him being involved in any gang related activities.

Now here is one gross exageration that I have a hard time imagining : "millions of parents are forced to kill off their own children because they cannot afford to feed, clothe and educate them; but no, Mohsen Makhmalbaf is not interested in assisting his own people; why? "

Makhmalbaf is director. Directors make movies and make money from doing that. So he happens to make a movie about Afghans which happens to help their cause. Now what exactly do you find evil about that? Would you rather have him not make a movie about afghans and not let Afghan plight be known?

I think that it's nice that someone is letting the world know about what is happening to Afghans.

Babak Behnia

* Coming to terms

I think in his autobiographical film "Noon o Goldoon" (Moment of Innocence), Makhmalbaf has come to terms with his past as an Islamic revolutionary, showing the naivety of the youth he used to be and showing his hope that the youth of today will not make the same mistake as him and opt instead for peaceful way to resolve social problems in Iran.

I have seen many instances in his films where he is clearly, unashamedly showing the foolishness and uselessness of everything he and fellow revolutionaries tried to accomplish and the negative results afterwards, for example "Marriage of the Blessed", "Salaam Cinema", "Nasserdin Shah".

That is, of course my own interpretation. If others see celebration of Islamic fundamentalism in his films for the past 10-15 years, I would like to hear specific examples. ["How dare you?"]


* Not one bit of sense

Rana Bahar's response to Mohsen Makhmalbaf's "Limbs of no body" did not make a bit of sense. A diatribe of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and an obviously convoluted vision of Iranian revolution, will not do a damn thing for Afghanistan.

She should not quit her day job either, if she thinks she is an expert in knowing Iranian men!


* Truth hurts

This is response to the article by Setareh Sabety ["Diana not"]. Just would like to say that your article was very nice and very true and I hope people can step back and think about this article and see what is happening around them and to their friends and family and most importantly to every human being.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but we must face it. So thank you for your article and keep it up.


* Settling old accounts

A young princess takes her own life in a hotel in London. Nobody knows why and probably nobody will ever know why. The interesting outcome is that everybody wants to make sense out of this senseless tragic event.

People go to far lengths in order to force-feed their educated opinions or to settle some old accounts ["Diana not"]. History, geopolitics, pop culture, even the nose-jobs of the royal family come into play.

My conclusion out of this tragedy is that we are some incredible nation!

Parviz Hamrang

* Talking from my heart

I read the article "Diana not" written by Ms. Setareh Sabety today, and it was the first time I saw an Iranian lady pointing to an important point so deeply. It was like she was talking from my heart.

I absolutely agree with the writer. I respect Leila Pahlavi and am sorry for her family , but they never took a serious step to help Iranians that need so much help abroad. I am proud that we have such ladies (like Ms. Sabety) that think beyond materialism (specially out of Iran).

An Iranian woman from U.S.

* Khoda biamorzatesh

After reading some of the comments ["Diana not"] about Leila Pahlavi's death (khoda biamorzatesh) I felt compelled to write a few words of my own. Before her death I had no idea who the princess was, no idea what her name was, and no idea what she looked like.

A few days after her death I read an article about her death in ["Leila's last ride"], the next day at college a friend of mine asked me if I had heard about the death, I replied yes, but I could tell that my friend was upset, so I asked her to show me pictures of Leila, she was shocked, my friend comes from a very stict monarchist family and it was strange for her that I did not know what "our" princess looked like.

When I first saw Leila's (khoda biamorzatesh) photo, my iranian "bitchy" side came out, and I said to my friend "vaay cheghadr laaghare, mesle choobe" then at that moment I realized that I'm talking about a dead person, and I apologised inside myself. Although I did not know much about Leila (khoda biamorzatesh) and her family from a very young age I had always witnessed my mother crying whenever she saw the Shah (khoda biamorzatesh) on TV or a picture of the royal family.

Sometimes I wish that I was around when the Shah and his family ruled Iran, for an Iranian who was born after the revolution, I do not know much about our countries past. For all of those people who think Leila (khoda biamorzatesh) was a "rich brat" or that she was no princess Diana (khoda biamorzatesh) stop and think for a minute, we are all individual people and none of us should be compared to another, maybe Leila (khoda biamorzatesh) did things that we did not hear about.

I think it is best for all of us to take away the lable of 'princess' from Leila (khoda biamorzatesh) and think of her as a fellow Iranian, who passed away. Let us think of her as a part of our family. Leila was born a princess, it was not a choice for her, put yourself in her shoes, and think how you would feel if people were talking about you and your family in this way.

I am not saying the Pahlavis have no fault, I can not comment on this factor as I mentioned before I do not have enough knowledge on the Pahlavis to comment. It is not right to talk about one who has passed away in an ill-mannered way no matter how much one disliked that person. I think we should all just let Leila rest in peace.


* Childish dreams

I've been following the articles on the site about Leila Pahlavi as well as the comments in the letters section, and maybe I just missed it, but nobody seemed to notice the timing significance of Leila Pahlavis suicide. hmmm... Didn't Iran make history earlier that weekend?!

Of course I'm not going to dispute that being forced into exile and the loss of ones father is not enough to cause severe depression, but why now? After 22 years? As someone who's been away from home for two years now, I would like to think that I get over this homesick feeling and the depression associated with it in the next 4-5 years!

The thought of a suicide attempt 20 years from now is scary. But then again, the monarchists would argue that I'm different: I'm not born a Pahlavi! I'm not royal! How could I compare my situation with the Princess?

And monarchists are right, I am different. And thank God!! I expect that I would fit in with my new surroundings in no time. But do you see what's going on here? In a twisted way, the Pahlavis are expected to be more depressed than that of the average Joe. You expect them to so "Iran-Doost", so incredibly nationalistic and above all, you expect them to lead the way to yet another revolution!

Of course they're going to be depressed, one of them has already committed suicide, and when? The day after the election! The election that Reza Pahlavi had invested so much of his energy, boycotting it. A low turn out would have brought so much hope and joy in the Pahlavi families and their followers. But that didn't happen.

The Islamic Republic (or the people or whatever) may have forced the Pahlavis into exile 22 years ago, but you are the ones killing them NOW! With your overpowering expectations and your childish dreams. Let go of the past, so you could survive the future. And besides I'm sure Reza Pahlavi would prefer if he would work on his garden and play with his kids anyway.


* Root of the problem

Despite always looking down our nose at other nationalities in our region such as Arabs, Turks, Afghans and Pakistanis, when are we Iranians going to accept that we are geographically, socially, culturally and religiously far far closer to the races and nations named than to Americans, the British, the Swiss etc? And isn't this denial the root of most of our country's problems ?

Let me explain. In 1978 - 1979, Iran became almost unique in history in that it's revolution was lead not just by the working class or the poor but by the middle classes and the well to do whose wealth was directly created by the reforms of the Shah and his father.

The middle class, having usually studied in the universities of the USA and Europe ( in 1979 there were 55,000 Iranian students studying in the USA ) returned home and joined the ranks of the disaffected revolutionaries. Why ? Because they said -- that having lived in Europe and the US they saw the level of corruption in the regime, they saw the oppression and the lack of political freedom etc. and wanted a fairer, humane and less corrupt regime in Iran on the basis of what they had experienced abroad.

In other words instead of looking around our country and comparing Iran with the likes of Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Saudi, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, the people were aspiring to have the laws and politics of Switzerland, Britain, France and the US in Iran. In my opinion, this is the tragedy of our country.

Let's look at some of these countries. Even today, 22 years on, not one of them has a system of government that is better than what we had 22 years ago. Its a pity that Iranians thought only they were lacking a perfect government in the 70's ! Yes, there was repression. Yes there was corruption. But my friends, look around us. At least we had social freedoms and prosperity in our country that people in neighboring countries STILL can only dream about.

Women in some of the Gulf States still do not have the vote. Women in Iran, after 22 years, are voting in droves for Khatami because since his election, they are allowed to show an extra strand of hair or two or are no longer stopped if they are walking with a member of the opposite sex in the street! Turkey and Egypt suffer from massive corruption and repression. Pakistan is ruled by the military and the less said about Afghanistan and Iraq the better. And further a field, Syria is all but a monarchy in which presidency is passed on from father to son and the people live in massive poverty and squalor.

I repeat, things may not have been perfect in the Iran of the 70's, but all too often huge economic and social achievements of the Pahlavi period are brushed aside due to the undoubted political restrictions that existed but not only in Iran but in ALL the countries of that region. These restrictions STILL exist in that region and it is a pity that only Iranians felt so hard done by and in striving for an unrealistic goal, threw out the economic benefits and social achievements of the 60's and 70's.

As the English say, it was like throwing out the baby with the bath water.


* Intellectualizing your hatred

Hmmm. Look at the letter section of the last few days (June 18, June 19). Have you ever seen more hatred, bitterness and divisions surrounding a funeral? At a time when a parent is grieving we have letters starting with "No one likes anyone who uses a death to prove a socio-political point." But I'll do it anyway since "maybe Leila herself would want her death to be put in perspective" ["Diana not"]

Are these the intellectuals and partisans who are hoping to bring about democracy to Iran? Or are they the reason we have ended up with this Islamic Republic in the first place. I wrote an article ["Boycott or perish"] trying to divert attention from personal attacks and target what I believe is the source of this bitterness namely the class warfare that can be read in between every line of these letters.

The identity crisis caused by the clash of Semitic and Aryan value systems, and the messiah complex of the typical Iranian. Based on the replies I received, a Chinese proverb came to mind: "You point your finger to the moon, the fool stares at you finger". The only intelligent replies I received from Iranians were from Laleh Khalili and Reza Ahmadi and neither even attempted to start a dialogue on the question of the article "How do we unite" and my conclusion "by confronting these issue?s that divide us".

Their focus went on the boycott message itself (which I published on after the election and for the record only). They ignored the message on what I believe to be the fundamental divisions in our society in favor stating their current political opinion. What has been more interesting though, and why I am writing this letter, is that all the correspondence I received from "farangiha", all four of them, homed in straight onto the points I presented as important and wanted me to elaborate.

How is it that foreigners search for an Iranian malaise in our religion / history / philosophy of thought and our esteemed intellectuals focus on nose jobs and materialism (issues that by the way are pertinent to all societies in the world not just ours.)

A reporter interviewed me last week from Asia Week on the contemporary issues of Iran and he was more interested in class struggle and the building of a new national identity than any of the political rhetoric of reforms, referendum, freedom etc. The foreign mind certainly seems to work differently.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You are wasting your time re-iterating what political or social camp you belong to. You are wasting the nations time intellectualizing your hatreds in ever so articulate and eloquent grammar. Confronting the issues that are not even up for discussion on [Class struggle, Arab (Semitic) values versus Iranian ones, rejection of a patriarchal society] will yield better results.

Amir Khosrow Sheibany

* Next step: Unite

Dear Persians,

We are talking now about Leila Pahlavi for a while now. I see many different opinions about her and her family. Some pro some con. Some letters where very nice and respectfull and some really hate mail and personal anger.

But all our attention is a better future for Iran and our culture. If the Pahlavi era was good or not dosen't matter now. The importand is what did we learn from it? What is going to be our next step? Why hate each other's opinions when we can lern from each other?

Let's gather our knowlege and teach the new and still my generation a lesson. Open your eyes and see every Persian as your brother and sister. Let's unite. If we want to build our Iran, there is no palce for hate and ignorance. Yes Iran is not at its best now, but let's build it with what we have.

All I want to say: Pahlavi or Khomaini, I'm a Persian and love it now and forever. DO YOU???


* Touches the soul

Dr. Hossein Bagherzadeh's poem "Refugee" is an absolutely great work. His poem captures, observes and touches the readers soul. Not only is it expressive but it's simplicity attracts attentions of those not having experienced living a life as a refugee, exile and first generation migrants. Here is my feelings put on paper >>> FULL TEXT

Sheema Kalbasi

* Your hip? Who cares?

I know you are fair and give equal opportunity for expressions. Please note taht as Iranian we work so hard to change stereotypes and try to diminish the perception that our women are vain and not concerned with important issues. Who gives a **** about her nose or her hips? Not that I have any problem with mine.

People like her give Iranian women a bad reputation ["Bigger is better"]. Most of us Iranian women are educated, intelligent and for the most part beautiful because we take care of ourselves. However, I do not know anyone who questions why someone's nose is small or where was the "nose job" done?

She sounds like a shallow person who lacks confidence resulting from inner beauty and obviously hangs out with people worthy of her company.

Please dedicate your pages to the writings that will benefit human kind and help improve the Iranian women's image. This child lacks character and substance.


* Crimes after 1980

I have checked ur site and all you have posted are anti-Shah photos of 1979-1999. Would you also be fair and loyal to the people and post all those killed people in Iran between 1980-2001 as well?!

In 1980 the Islamic government hung150,000 young people between the age of 12-up. Before the killing they raped the young women and then took them to pregnancy test then they shot them.

The Iranian regime got paid for their shooting. Would you also post all these crimes in your web site? That would be good for us to judge then.


Jazmin Yas

* Snowball

A GENERAL OBSERVATION: The reason what has happened in Iran has happend is because the world MUST become aware of Islam and what it has become today, especially in countries such as Iran and Afghanestan. The citizens of the world will have to eliminate and eradicate every remaining sign of Islam, but first they must get disgusted enough.

From what I see in the letters printed here and what I hear in the radio shows all people talk about is freedom and how the damn mollas have taken it from them... so it seems like it's starting to happen at least in Iran. Little by little, but it will happen , like a snowball rolling down the mountain the disgust the world is going to feel towards Islam is going to get bigger and bigger .

That is why there is a new faith called Bahai faith. It is here to enlighten the world and wake it up from it's slumber and take it out of the slimy swamps that today's Islam has put us in for too long.

To all the Moslems: Look what your Islam has done for you. It seems the hole you dug for yourself has gotten so big and you are all struggling to get out now , but you can't. It seems " ye go.. khordeed and toosh geer kardin" it seems "booyeh gandesh oomadeh bala"

I do not speak for the Bahai faith. My opinions are my own. and when I refer to Islam I speak of the Islam that man has twisted and made up thru out time, not the spoken words of God in the original Koran.

Nooshin. N

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June 2001
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