Letters

April 2006
April 26 -- April 28 -- April 13

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Little dictators

On Kamal Artin's "Natural right":

I see that you are really interested in a free Kurdistan. I personally believe that freedom is probably the most valuable human right and must be respected, no matter what. Freedom of course consists of freedom to choose your faith, your land, your leaders, and of course practice all your personal options without constraints.

For example if you are a Kurd, living in a mostly Kurdish territory, it seems reasonable to me that you must have the right to choose your own leaders and they of course would normally do as the majority would please, in order to stay in power. Self-interest serves the common interest as long as it is checked and does not become abusive, i.e. dictatorial, corrupt and so on.

However withing that Kurdish territory it is almost certain to have other minorities, such as Arabs, Farsi speakers, Turks etc. Would the Kurdish majority respect the same rights of those minority groups, or they would say "this is our land and we do as we please!" or "we are all Kurds and everybody living here must abide by Kurdish rules and customs." You see, we are alike. The only difference has been the historical tragedy of the Kurdish to be quite few in numbers living in mountainous lands.

When the Fars rule, they say "we are Iranians (speaking Farsi for the sake of being Iranians) and we practice Shia religion" and when the Arabs rule they say that "we are all Arabs and everybody has no other way but to accept our rules" and Turks are in power they do not hesitate to say that "we are all nothing but Turks and there are no others to give them separate status."

You see Kamal, we are all so similar in our stupidities that we cannot really blame each other for their stupidities. The problem is not who is the dictator, or the majority. The problem is that we are all dictators in our hearts, being upset that the guy from the next door got his round first.

The problem is not being Kurd, Fars, Arab, Turk, Lori, Baluchi, Azeri, Mazandarani, Gilaki etc. The problem is thinking alike, intolerant, abusive, deceptive, and non-cooperative. It has just been a matter of luck to have greater numbers for Arabs, the Fars, and the Turkish, that they seem to be in power. But just take a look at them and as it is obvious none are doing well. The Turks seem to be doing better because of the European influence, thank God another historical coincidence. But even among the Turks democracy is shaky.

You think Kurdistan has the chances of being any better an independent state than Farsistan, Arabistan and Turkistan? I wish so, but I certainly have my doubts. No offense, but I really think that we are all so close reltives that it is highly unlikely to have a little brother too different from the rest. Unless there would be a foreign influence, like in the case of Israel. A Middle-eastern country that has a relatively acceptable democracy, and enjoys a relatively acceptable economic prosperity, without dependence on oil. But of course, Israelis are so different from the rest of the Middle East that we cannot really mix them with each other. They have almost all immigrated from Christian countries.

I hope I made my point clearly. The problem among the Muslim peoples in the Middle East is not what language they speak and who seems to be the ruler, and who the ruled. The problem is that all Middle-easterners, most of the peoples and the individuals are some little dictators in themselves. The reason most Middle-easterners are unhappy about the dictatorships they have is not because of the matter of principle about freedom, but because they are unhappy somebody else has got his round of thuggish happiness (being the dictator) this time, and not them.

We've got a long path ahead of us and as we can see what is going on in Iraq, it also seems to be a potentially bloody one, before we can realize that the interest of one doesn't need to the loss of another. That cooperation and respect for others is a far better way of living than jungle-style constant social battle.

Ben Madadi

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Kurdistan free of abuse

On Ben Madadi's "Little dictators":

Thank you Ben. You raise very good points. Kurdisatn is like a battered wife by an abusive husband .I hope if Kurdistan is free she will not be abusive herself. For now, I beleive Kurds should have exactly the same rights as Persian, Arabs, and Turks. I love the heritage of all of those ethnicities, as much as I love the Kurdish, English, German, African etc ones.

Of course if Kurdistan becomes one of the free Iranian republics, there shold be no violation of minorities who live there, otherwise it won't be the Kurdistan I envision. I might become a true cosmopolitan at that time. I guess as memebrs of human family, each of us can do certain things and not everything. For now, the best service I can offer to humanity is to promote Kurdish cause whole heartedly. There might not be a need for me to remain a Kurd, once there is a free Kurdistan.

Kamal Artin

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Dividing small world into pieces

On Kamal Artin's "Natural right":

I was going to go through Dr. Artin's skewed view of history and nationality (such as his way of looking at Salahuddin) and how this is exactly the problem with achieving first peace in the Middle East, and then if you wish, independence for Kurdistan. As a historian, I think that a great part of our problems in the Near and Middle East come from the fact that we "use" history, rather than studying it. Often we see history, or rather our preferred narrative of history, as a tool to argue for the points we are biased towards. This is a great gap of education between the "first" and the "third" world, the fact that despite all previous extremisms and misunderstandings and utilizations of history, European and North American scholarship has been able to look at history for what it was, not for what we might want it to be. Of course, "history", in the sense of the written narrative of what went on in the past, is like a story (history and story are the same words really) and we can manipulate and change this story, but what went on in the past needs to be studied without manipulation. This is where it grieves me when I see people who obviously are under-read in history use it for political and other purposes.

As I said, I was going to go through Dr. Artin's speech point by point and clarify where he is misunderstanding the historical issues and is, hopefully unintentionally, misleading his audience. However, I though I just make the whole argument short by pointing out that his mention of the "collapse of the Ancient Median Empire" as the point since which "Kurds have not had any significant gains" is relying on 120 year old scholarship which thought of Kurds as the descendants of Ancient Medians. I am not sure if you would be willing to use a machine built 120 years ago, so I wonder why you are willing to base a whole argument on the same thing.

I am not against or for independence of anywhere. I generally think that the earth is smaller than it being worth our petty conflicts and attempts to divide it into even smaller pieces. But let's not go there and just focus on the issue that if you want to use history for your arguments, at least read more of it.

Khodadad Rezakhani

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Appreciate your deep thoughts

On Hossein Bagher Zadeh's "The spectre of a divided Iran":

Dear Bagherzadeh,

I read your articles in Iran Emroose and I appreciate your deep thoughts on several subjects, and I am agree with your points regarding recent letter was signed by a group of writers which denied any help from other democratic countries although themselves get benefit from these contries.

Hooshang Ghahramanlou

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Obsession with current borders

On Hossein Bagher Zadeh's "The spectre of a divided Iran":

Mr. Bagher Zadeh,

I appreciate your being a human right activist. Every country needs insightful people like you to highlight universal issues of conern to human beings, such as access to public education in own language and the of elf determination rights. Cosidering your stand that integrity of Iran or Yogoslavia (or may be Soviet Union too) is much more imprtant than the right of various ethnic groups, a more suitable description for your position might be an Iranian right activist. You will do all Iranain ethnic groups a better service if you remind the authorities, that all Iranains deserve the same rights regardless of which side of borders they live in.

To my understanding Kurds in all countries are all Iranians. Obsession with current borders does not help Iranians. There are 22 Arab states, and there is no harm to people if we have few Iranian states. Forget the oil, which will not always be there; think about complementary influence of Iranian people on each other, if all have a chance to flourish. I encourage you to update your stand to future realitiers and support creating Iranain republics insetad of staying with a many times tired and failed approach.

Kamal Artin

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Making fun of everything

On Zohreh Ghahremani's "Armed with humor":

Zohreh Khanoom-e aziz,

That was a nice article on Iranian humor. I enjoyed reading it and just to prove your point about Iranians making fun of everything they have already made jokes about nuclear energy by using their poetic talent. I read this today:  

energy-e haste-i poonsad toman baste-i
energy-e bi hasteh hezar toman yek basteh

I was in Iran two months ago and jokes were making the rounds on people's cell phones about every official in the government and every political issue.

No one and nothing can break the will, the perseverance, and the staying power of this great nation -- not CIA orchestrated coups, not isolation and sanctions, not calling it "terrorist" and "axis of evil", not imposing a devastating 8-year war, and not even threats of nuclear bombs (!) Iran "bidi nist k-e az in badha belarzad". It has withstood Alexander the Great (destroyer!), the Arabs, Changiz Khan-e Moghol, Ashraf-e Afghan, the Russians, the British, even the Qajars !!!!! It can no doubt survive George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice as well. This neo-con triangle will long be gone where the other conquerors have gone but Iran will still be standing tall.

N. Shafiei

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Oh, yes! Scientology...I almost forgot

On Vida Kashizadeh's "Eat your placenta and have it too":

I once complained to Jahanshah that some of the articles that get published on Iranian.com are less than qualified and asked him to set a standard against which he can evaluate the entries. He disagreed and told me that I should imagine myself in a party where everyone is different. I should hang out with the people I like and simply ignore the rest. I accepted - because there was nothing else to do.

Tonight, however, when I walked into the party I met someone who seemed interesting so I went over and started talking to her. But a few minutes into our conversation she transformed into another creature and then after a few more minutes she changed into something else. In fact she went through a mini metamorphosis every minute or so but thankfully, by some random chance, she ended up in her first place at the end of the conversation. It wasn't unlike that gag on "Family Guy" where the tough guy on the Springer-style TV show reveals that he is in fact a woman. And then she reveals that actually she's a horse. And finally the horse reveals that it really is a broom. Then the broom just drops.

Ms. Kashizadeh's article attracted my attention because after years of hearing news stories about Scientologist celebrities I still don't quite understand what Scientology is. I thought reading the article might help me. It starts off with a personal anecdote about the time that the author went to visit her "khol" neighbor in Munich who happened to be a Scientologist. You hope that you hear something about the neighbor's beliefs or habits as a Scientologist; instead all you find out about her is that she had a dark living room and her husband was a high ranking German official during the Nazis. Now this is when Ms. Kashizadeh gets a little - you wish- side tracked and goes on to talk about how the Nazis didn't consider Iranians any better than Jews or Arabs. And you're mistaken if you think she returns to the original topic anytime soon. She then starts a lengthy debate of Iran vs. Persia and Farsi vs. Persian. It doesn't end here though. She does not move on until she has made a few comments about the British education system and the use of English and Persian as official languages in India. Are you keeping track of that?

Suddenly, by some divine coincidence, Ms. Kashizadeh remembers what she had started this article for. "Oh, yes! Scientology...I almost forgot." She proceeds with an anecdote about her cat who, after two paragraphs of unnecessary details, we find out to have been supposedly eaten by the Scientologist neighbor. Finally she says what she started this article to say: that she is against Scientologists and she especially disapproves of Tom Cruise’s intention to eat the placenta.

I didn’t know that the placenta is edible but if it cures Attention Deficit Disorder, I suggest that Ms. Kashizadeh gives it a shot because out of the 1600 words she wrote, more than 700 of them were about things that had nothing to do with Scientology, placenta, or pregnancy.

Negar Kalbasi

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Bush aims at Iranian government, not people

On H. Saftar's letter to President Bush "Save your ‘gift of democracy’":

Mr. Saftar is either ignorant about the intentions of President Bush in regards to Iran or chooses to ignore!! Mr. Bush has repeatedly mentioned the great nation of Iran, the proud people of Iran, its ancient history and the contributions that has made to world civilization!! Furthermore, on numerous occasions Mr. Bush has clearly separated the accounts of the Iranian people from those of the barbaric and occupying regime of the Islamic Republic.

If Mr. Saftar really cares about Iran and Iranian’s reputation, he should then aim his pen not at President Bush but the non-Iranian Mullahgarchy who have brought shame and disrespect to our nation. One other thought: the 1953 “counter” coup did not steal democracy from Iran, it prevented the Soviets from turning Iran into Iranistan.

Arman Moseni

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Funny black character that everybody likes

On letters critical of black Haji Firouz, "Have any idea how insulting that is?", "Not exactly what we should be doing", and cartoon by Saman:

Frankly folks, I don't think so.

I think you Iranians living in the US sometimes overdo this "trying to be politically correct" thing. I think it's nice that we have a funny black character that everybody likes in our celebrations. This is really a sign of inclusion. What you're advocating would end up working not only a form of exclusion, but also of depriving yourselves of an added spirit of fun in our celebrations. In short, I don't think Haji Firouz spreads racism in any way, it's the opposite way around. This is how sometimes societies that are coming of age shoot themselves in the foot, you know? Be careful!

Parham

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Well now we've finally done it

On Jahanshah Javid 's "We don't need to get martyred over this":

I agree, we don't need to get martyred. And don't worry! We won't! We never do! Technically only the IRI can declare you to be a martyr. I know the collective WE is a popular concept among Iranians. Habastegi as a convenient fashion statement, worn lavishly like Lexus or Louis V, it is especially notable among those Iranians, not actually in any harms way, comfortably perched on their designer couches as they watch the destruction unfold on CNN. For the past 30 years!

The relatively small amount of genuine concern (forget action) by the average Joe Iranian is astounding if not embarrassing. I swear, most of us are upset primarily because if the US bombs Iran, it might affect our 90cm kabab consumption in Tehran every summer as we vacation our gluttony in Iran, throw our 800 toman dollars around like we are actually large, and conveniently blind ourselves to the real reality (not the official advertised IRI one), and hungrily consume and indulge in every Iranian fantasy, culinary or otherwise.

Well now we've finally done it. Our apathy and lack of collaborative solidarity and action, has finally resulted in a situation. To be clear, the true situation is that the zookeepers of Iran, through their arrogance, primed by a not so strangely absent God, think they deserve recognition, fame, and even acceptance for their perversions. The people of Iran through their institutionalized blind indifference, and historic tradition of being ruled since time began, have no plausible explanation to offer.

I have seen several petitions in the past days calling for the US not to bomb Iran, strange how not one word has been said against the regime and their 30 year bloodthirst. So it's OK for the Mullahs to kill our people for 30 years, but if the US threatens, the petitions flow like chaie at an ugly girl's aroosi. How arrogant! How chickenshit! How predictable! The degree and depth of our self hatred is astounding.

Indeed there may be a genetic predisposition here that no one has considered. It may very well be that we are destined to be cowards. Maybe we are descended from deevs, because there certainly aren't any Rostams left. Iranians, The Cowardly Chameleons of the World! Congratulations everyone! We are Iranian! We say we care about Iran. But not too loudly and not when anyone who matters is listening. And don't forget our destiny is entirely the fault of the British and the CIA in 1953.

To paraphrase MLK (apology in advance)

Free We're Not!
Free We're Not!
Where is God All Mighty?
It's about to get HOT!

Behrouz Bahmani

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Big difference

On Slater Bakhtavar's "Abracadabra democracy":

Here’s the big difference between Iraq and Japan and Germany. The Allied Powers returned power to indigenous institutions within those countries following the end of the War. In Germany, the Parliament that Hitler dissolved was returned to power, and in Japan similar democratic structures which existed were placed back into power. You have no democratic institutions predating the Iraqi war which the Americans forces have returned authority to. In fact, almost all the institutions in Iraq, including the vast majority of those now occupying political seats, are foreign products, rather then indigenous products.  How do you explain the absence of post-war insurgencies in Germany and Japan, and the daily insurgencies in Iraq? It took America hundreds of years to develop itself as an imperfect democracy and much of Europe centuries to reach that level.

The “force of modern democracy” is not externally imposed, but internally developed. If you strip yourself from partisan sources, which you clearly rely upon, then the problem in Iraq is clearly more problematic. What’s worse though is the ability you show to completely dismiss the human tragedies occurring in Iraq. The only reference you make to Iraq’s problem and the innocent killing of thousands is “It's true that the situation in Iraq isn't perfect.” Its strikes me as sorrowful when a well off young man like yourself, situated in America, having never fought in war, and having no occasion to live in Iraq, feel justified to promote and now protect war in another country in which every argument which was offered to justify it have been completely dismissed. If you actually care about Iraqis, then strip yourself from partisanship and actually look it at holistically. Educate yourself, rather then feed propaganda.

... Democracies require democratic institutions and social and economic foundations. Prior to 1918, there were a number of political parties advocating for democratic reform. Moreover, the Weimar Republic was not the product of foreign occupation, for the Treaty of Versailles never required the leaders of Germany to abdicate. Rather, it was the German revolution in 1918 which forced German monarchs to resign and paved the way for democratic forces. In other words, Germany's experiment with democracy was internally developed, not externally imposed. Even after WWII, the Allied Powers empowered institutions during the Weimar Republic which had been usurped by Hitler and maintained a market structure with socialist and capitalist leanings (something not currently being done in Iraq despite their long history of socialism and grassroots support.)

Similarly, in Japan you stressed the importance of leaving former political powers intact for purposes of keeping stability, and giving greater power to a parliament which had already existed in Japan prior to WWII.

This all simply demonstrates the importance of democracy being home-grown, in sharp contract to this administrations policy, or even rhetoric, and definitely contrary to your opinion. There is no history of democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor has there been efforts to integrate former political blocs into the current government. The process of debathification has effectively destroyed that possibility. The question is "how do we make Iraq better" and "what lessons can we learn." The lessons are easy, the remedies are difficult. The most important, especially when we talk about Iran, is that you cannot bring democracy to a people, you must let them develop it themselves.

I know you're a Republican, but seriously, if you box yourself in like that and support what is clearly wrong, then you do more to demonstrate how horrible and ignorant your party is, then show that it has learned from its former mistakes and is being held accountable for them. So yes, we'll wait for democracy to build in Iraq, but that doesn't justify the war nor the actions of this administration.

Nema Milaninia

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Key to German-Japanese success

On Nema Milaninia's "Big difference":

Thank you for your reply.

Psyop:

In the case of the Germans, their first attempt at democracy after WWI, the Weimar Republic, was a miserable failure, in large part due to the unwise reparations policy enforced on them by the French and English. This laid the foundation for Hitler's take-over. After WWII, Germans needed time and convincing that democracy would work. There were many Nazi hold- out after the war that continued to cause trouble for several years till they were all run to ground. The rest bailed to South America.

Of course, being whipped, twice in succession by Democracies might have left a bit of an impression, too. And at the end of WWII, rather than demanding reparations, we instituted the Marshal Plan.

In the case of Japan, it was because MacArthur allowed the emperor to remain in position, that American occupation policy worked. One of the reasons MacArthur was so personally admired by the Japanese after the war was because he did not disgrace the Emperor as many of his contemporaries wanted him to do. If he had, there would have been chaos.

The Emperor and the Marshal Plan, were key to the success of our post war plan in Japan. Because the emperor supported it publicly, so did the bulk of the japanese people. Still, there were militarist holdouts in Japan, and left on formerly occupied Islands, that carried on the war for many years (30 years in one well documented case).

Slater Bakhtavar

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Different, significant perspective

On Kamal Artin's "To see or not to see", film review of "Turtles Can Fly":

Dr. Artin,

My wife and I watched “Turtles Can Fly” last night.  We remembered hearing that the film “was good,” but remembered little else.  So we were without expectations when it played on our home TV.   What an impressive film!  Beautifully shot; the children played their roles with remarkable maturity; and an incredible parable, understandable in any language.  

This afternoon, I searched the internet for any information about the film and came upon your commentary.  I found it insightful and informative, especially the reference to Plato’s “three classes of a functioning state.”  I work in the Hollywood “pulp” film industry and am starved to find films that work on levels more than the obvious.  

Trying to describe this film to my friends and colleagues, I find myself stumbling, wanting to avoid the usual Hollywood catch phrases (“It’s like ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets “Three Kings’”).  I don’t want to spoil the impact of the film for them, yet want to encourage them to see it.  It’s so easy to minimalize this film as an anti-war film when its impact is so much stronger.  Your review has helped me make sense of it, to put words to the emotions I still feel the day after seeing it.  

(I am confused, though, about one thing.  You say “an accident causes Rega to drown” when it was most obvious that Agrin murders the baby.   Are you being euphemistic or is the DVD version different from the one released last year?)

In regards to your teenagers watching it, my 15-year-old daughter was hard at studying for her History exam and missed it.  But we all agreed she should watch it when she has the opportunity.  The current events of the Iraq War play out on the television hourly (never “prohibited”).  My wife and I felt “Turtles Can Fly” adds a different and significant perspective to the other views we see.  

Thank you for your essay.  And we hope to see Rosebiani’s “Jeyan” soon.

Michael Knue

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Twists and spins

On Slater Bakhtavar's "Abracadabra democracy":

Young man, you may think you are fooling folks with your twisting matters that democracy is the goal, and being instilled in Iraq, you aren't. Your article sounded a bit fishy, all that insistence on "democracy", so I found another article that you had written ("Democracy spreads"). It just confirmed my curiosity.

Which so-called quest for "democracy"? Now the new spin and lie is: the invasion, the destruction of Iraq, the horror, the loss of life, the chaos, the current efforts (blink blink) are for the establishment of * democracy * in Iraq. You must be joking. Don't let the truth and facts get in your way, just keep on spinning.

Here's a song about your very noble democratic-minded neo-con idols, as derived from the Beatles song "I am a walrus":

I am me and Rummy's he, Iraq is free and we are all together
See the world run when Dick shoots his gun, see how I lie
I'm Lying...

Sitting on my own brain, waiting for the end of days
Corporation profits, Bloody oil money
I'm above the law and I'll decide what's right or wrong

I am the egg head, I'm the Commander, I'm the Decider
Koo-Koo-Kachoo

Baghdad city policeman sitting pretty little targets in a row
See how they die when the shrapnel flies see mothers cry
I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing...I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing

Yellow cake plutonium, imaginary WMD's
Declassifying facts, exposing secret agents
Tax cuts for the wealthy, leaving all the poor behind
CHORUS

Here are words of a true American patriot:

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it." -- General Douglas Macarthur, 1957

Been-around-too-long, to-be-fooled-by-ignorant neo-cons
Kaveh
Bethesda, MD, USA

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Disgraceful Irani

On Guive Mirfendereski's "I speak Irani"

Your latest article in Iranian.com is truely disgraceful. Please stop you nonsensical "reverse-horseshoe", convoluted ramblings. Or, at least stop making it sound like it is a scholarly presentation, for God's sake. There are simpletons out there who might actually believe you. Ironic that on the same page Prof. Yarshater (who actually knows what he is talking about), clearly disputes you.

Manesh

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About Bahais

Thank you for your fearless publication of the truth. Allah'u'Akbar. Allah'u'Abha.

Paul Vaughn
Marietta, Georgia, USA

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On the "religiousness" of Iranians

On Ben Madadi's "Big clean up":

Salaam,

I would like to respectfully disagree on the blind assertion you have made on the "religiousness" of Iranians.

What actually defines the "level" of religiousness of an individual? What parts of the Iranian nation are you including, and which parts are you purposefully ignoring? While you take into account North of Tehran, and brush over South of Tehran, are you considering the hundreds and thousands of villages and small towns we have in Iran?

Outside the main cities, where over 65% of the Iranian population lives, have continually voted conservative or traditionalist in all elections in Iran. These are the same people that constitute the core of Ahmadinejad's base support. The US State Department and CIA estimate that the government of the Islamic Republic has 10 million core fully loyal supporters (willing the fight and die for the regime and their religion). These 10 million are the blind followers of the regime solely because it calls itself "Islamic". The rest of the population is a gradient from supporters of the traditionalists, conservatives, reformists with actually very few (number wise) that are calling for a complete overthrow of the regime. The major constituency wishing to overthrow the regime are outside the country, not within.

Let me ask you a very simple question. Of all the Turkish/Arab/Asian Muslim nations in the world, which one has had a popular revolution in which the most popular slogan was "Allahu Akbar" with an emphasis of portraying their revolution in Islamic terms (such as casting the Shah as the Yazid of the time, calling themselves the soldiers of Ali and Hussein)?

When you compare all other wars in recent history, which people was it that carried the flags of the Prophet Muhammad (S), Imam Ali and Imam Hussein into the battle field to fight their enemies? Was it not the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war? The Iraqi Shi'as at the time were dwelling in Arab nationalism and fought on the side of Iraq for the sake of Iraq and Arabism and not for Islam. Yet the Iranians were fighting to gain "martyrdom" and "seek the pleasure of God" in fighting to protecting their land from a tyrant (Saddam Hussein).

Even with the dwindling crowds, look at any Friday Prayer's in Iran (Tehran or Mahshad especially) and compare it with other Shi'a areas such as Lebanon or Iraq. You will realize the Shi'as of Iran tend to show up to Friday prayers with more regularcy than their Iraqi/Lebanese/Pakistani counterparts.

Let us not forget, that in 1998 and 2002 Khatami, a black-turbaned cleric won the elections with promises to bring his version of "Islam" to power. While the North Tehranis had their own interpretation of what this Islam was, many in the villages and small towns thought of these reforms and helping their day-to-day lives. Failing to provide both forms of reform, Khatami's new successor, Ahmadinejad won by winning the hearts and minds of the villages and towns who are traditionally very religious and don't care about the philosophical debates in the capital.

Let's look at history. As Professor Dr. Algar of UC Berkeley has stated, "the Islam the world knows today, Sunni or Shia, is brought to us through a Persian lens". What does this mean? All the early Islamic philosophers and compilers of Hadith and Fiqh were Persian of origin.

For example, Sunnis have 4 so-called authentic books of Hadith (collections of the sayings of the Prophet and his companions). These 6 Sunni books were compiled and put together by Persians."Bukhari", "Muslim", "Abu-Dawud", "Muwatta" were all Persian scholars and scholars of Islam. The largest Sunni school of thought (80% of the Sunni World follow this maktab), Hanafi, was founded by Abu Hanifa, who was Persian in origin. He was the student of Imam Jaffar Sadiq (AS), the 6th Imam of Shi'a Islam.

Going to Iran, everyone gets their own impression of what the people are like depending on what his own tastes are, and who they end up spending most of their time with. I myself was raised in America, and converted to Islam a few years ago (yes, I'm Iranian of origin, but my parents were secular such as yourself).

Interesting enough, I used to study at UC Berkeley, and the Iranian female Muslims wore hijab at a higher ratio than their Pakistani/Arab counterparts.

What does religiousness even mean anyway? The crazy fanatics that support killing civilians and strap bombs and blow up in masjids are considered religious to you? If so, then you are right, those idiots are plenty in Pakistan and Iraq. If you rate it based on the philosophical discourse and intense amounts of debates about the role of religion in modern society, then I think Iran tops it off.

As the Prophet Muhammad (S) said, "The Arabs are the people of Revelation and the Persians are the people of Interpretation"

It still holds true today.

Dariush Abadi

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Just say I don't know

On Suri, the name chosen by Tom Cruise and Katie Holms for their newborn daughter:

At first, I was very upset. I read the news that iranian.com linked to what Houshang Amirahmadi said about Suri, and he denied that Suri was indeed a Persian rose. Many Websites quoted his denial on the Persian meaning of Suri. I was about to believe the guy unitl you published a prominent article by Professor Saadat Noury on Suri. Why some knowledgable people do not speak out first?

Perhaps that is why somebody like Amirahmadi feels free to talk absurd. This guy (I mean Amirahmadi) should be warned that, "Do not open your mouth when you do not know anything about Suri". Little knowlege is danegerous!

Saffieh Saloor

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Suri also celebration

On Suri, the name chosen by Tom Cruise and Katie Holms for their newborn daughter:

In searching for Suri and visiting your very informative Website, I was so surprised by what Professor Amirahmadi, the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, said about Suri to the reporter of New York Daily News.

I was more surprised, rather shocked, how the Director of that Center for Middle Eastern Studies who must be knowledgable about different aspects of Persian Culture could misinform people about Suri. On this international air of negativity on Iran, the Director followed the suit and denied one of the first meanings of Suri. He only referred to Suri as the party of celebration. Possibly he could only see the Sur-Cheraan or Sur-Cheraani among Iranians! And again, he delivered a misconception on Iranian culture.

It was a delight, however, that you published an informative research article on the same subject by Iranian scholar Professor Saadat Noury, for which I thank you. That article cleared the smoke in the air.

Leela Baharan
New York

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Phallic minarets

On quiz, "Nisheto beband Sheytoon":

This is a birthday cake in the form of a replica of a revered shrine of an Imamzadeh (remember all the Imams and their progeny after Imam Ali were Imamzadeh). The cake is ordered from the local "Adult Cake Factory." The blue dome is emblematic of the testicular strain familiar to most Iranian males and also known in the American vernacular as blue balls. The curly twirl atop the dome looking like a twisted nipple is a red herring. The essence of the depiction is the representation of the phallic minarets in green -- that is reference to the onset of gangrene from the prolonged wait for the hidden Imam for relief!

Anonymous

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Enter the reality zone

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

Ms. Nemati,

You are not only ugly, have losuy taste in music and probably suffer from permanemt PMS, I have to believe, after reading your article "unworthy iranians", that you are mentally challenged as well.

I was born and brought up in a Muslim family. Typical Iranian young man, Muslim by name, who never opened up the Quran, attended Mosque or anything else Islamic. Thank God.

My wife was born into a Bahai family in Tehran and is still a practicing Bahai. Until age 14 when she left Iran, she was harrassed and humiliated on a daily basis for being a non muslim. Two of her close family members, one man and one woman were killed becuase they were Bahais. Her entire family's assets were confiscated because of their religion. After 17 years of working for the Iranian Gas company, her dad had to come to the U.S. as a refugee and without a penny, with a family of 4. Many Bahais and Jews came to the U.S. or U.K. with "dollar-e haft tomanee" but 80% of them did not.

Why would anyone like my wife or her parents have any positive feelings about Iran or Iranian people? Jews and Bahais are still hated by a big % of the Iranian population in Iran and abroad. Why would any Jew like a piece of human excrement like you, who gets upset because people in a wedding party didn't kiss her ass?

Take your head out of your ass; try to enter the reality zone. Islam, Iran, and a good % of Iranians have been cruel to religous minorities for centuries. Unless and until we confess to this truth and start fixing the problem, Islamic Republic of Iran will remain a shit hole and we will have sub human entities like Ahmadinejad run the country and someone like you writing in a public forum as a contributor to a well known news outlet like Iranian.com.

Once we realize the wrongs we have done, fix it, and become a true democracy of the people for the people, we can start calling Iran a country again and expect minorities to show love and respect for it.

F.F.
Los Angeles

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Long way to go

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

At my age, I thought, girl, you have seen it all!! How wrong could I be!!

Writing a note to Iranian.com in response ["Sad & shameful"] to Ms. Ghahremani's book review ["One & the same"] has been one the most educational experiences I have had in a long time.

I have no intention of responding directly to Ms. Ghahremani or Ms. Nemati who responded to my note, as I see no point in wasting their time. Both have indicated that they are well informed, are not interested in a dialogue and their stated comments are the last words they like to hear. I respect their wishes.

I have also received lots of private emails from so many of you with stories of your own. Words of gratitude; encouraging comments; appreciation for bringing it to your attention; nasty remarks; disgusting language; misunderstandings; sincere apologies and requests to respond. I wish you all had copied your emails to Iranian.com so that the range of bias as well as your understandings could be shared with everyone. I feel that I am blessed by your comments and thank you for taking the time to write even when it was to yell and scream obscenities at me.

Like all of you, I love my country and my people. As a mother, I have learned that in order to truly love, you have to be able to see and admit faults as well as praise the good qualities. I share with you a few observations.

Ms. Nemati's comment "I never felt sorry for the minorities because I never saw injustices to them" and Ms. Ghahrmani's admission of her sheltered life should give everyone a good indication of how little they know and how narrow minded their comments are.
Iran is a big and multi faceted country. If you have not had the opportunity to travel across this wonderful land and outside of your sheltered little Ghajar Princess life, please spare the rest of us your half baked ideas and comments.

In a country of 70 million people where the publication run of a book is much less than 50.000 and 75% of the population live in small town and villages, how could Ms. Ghahrmani criticize an author for failing to talk to writers and visit universities when writing about Iran?  Life in Iran is a lot more complicated than what you experience in your occasional trip to Iran.
How can Ms. Nemati criticize Armenians for speaking their own language when 40% of Iranians learn Persian as their 2nd language?

The Iran that I talk about is not the wide boulevards of Barim in Abadan or the private alley of your less religious part of town in Mashhad or your aunt's house in Farmanieh.It is where the majority of Iranians live. I hate to bring it to your attention, but we are not all the same offspring's of corrupt princes. Some of us even speak other languages such as Azeri, Kurdi, Torkamon, Taleshi, Assyrian, Arabic and even Hebrew!! Are you going to deny them the right to call themselves Iranian? Who are you and what right do you have to deny people their basic human rights of citizenship. How could you dismiss a documented genocide and forceful removal of Armenian and Assyrians from Uromieh as chip on one's shoulder?

-- I was not in Abadan when Cinema Rex was burned; I was not in Jungles of Siahkal when the best and the brightest of Iran's future where captured;
-- I was not in Halabcheh when the Kurds were sprayed with Mustard Gas; I was not in Shiraz when group of Jewish merchants were brought into the court room in chain and put on trial for made up charges.  
-- I was not a witness to execution of a 17 year old Bahai child minder/ preschool teacher named Mona; I was not having tea with Daryoush and Parvaneh Forouhar when they were stabbed;  I was not around when the Archbishop of Tehrans's Armenian Church was killed, can I deny that any of the above happened because I did not see it?

We have a beautiful country with great people that regardless of our religion, ethnic background, the languages we speak or the costumes we wear, the private alleys of the big cities or the small villages that we live in, we have one thing in common. We love Iran and we are proud to be Iranians.

I admit that as Iranians, we have a long way to go to put our differences aside and come to terms with our shortcomings. I thank Ms. Ghahremani and Ms. Nemati who by sharing their misunderstandings and biased opinions, have given all of us an opportunity for educating them and others like them who still see Iran only from the narrow window of their own limited exposures and experiences.

From the snow capped picks of Alborz to hot Gaz fires of Ahwaz; from the sandy shores of Bandar Abbas to slippery Jungles of Mazandaran; from the rugged mountains of Kurdistan to dry desert of Kerman; from the Pomegranate orchards of Ghochan to Date groves of Abadan; from the vineyards of Shiraz to sand baked flat lands of Sistan, I have a claim to every inch of that land as my own. Who are you to question my love for my country? Who are you to deny me my citizenship?

There is no chip on my shoulder, my dear, only my love for Iran. That is why it hurts so much...

Mina Hakim-Bastanian

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Muslims don't have "perfect" life either

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

Thank you Ms. Nemati for this rebuttal to Ms. Bastanian's letter ["Sad & shameful"]. Ms. Gahremani ["One & the same"] eloquently reviewed and criticized a book that had a dismissive attitude towards both Iran and Islam. It was her personal opinion and I did not feel anything in her review deserved that ridiculous list of exaggerated (!) grievances by Ms. Bastanian.   

I go to Iran several times a year and spend a lot of time among the population at large. I know of many Bahais and Jews and Armenians who are living in Iran right now under the Islamic regime; they work, go to school, and pratice their religion. They may not have a "perfect" life, but then neither do the Muslims in Iran. There may have been cases of discrimination at times, but to exaggerate thus and this kind of grandstanding and crying "victim" at every turn by these religious minorities is really becoming annoying. 

Of late this has become a "genre" of writing among Iranian religious minorities -- writing about their "horrible" experiences growing up as a religious minority in Iran. I guess with the prevailing atmosphere this "genre" sells quite well !

Best Regards, 

N. Shafiei 

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Liberalism misunderstood

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

Accidentally I noted a very disturbing article tilted: "Unworthy Minorities". It is very unfortunate that a self acclaimed "most liberal Iranan" who lives in US has a mindset that is absolutely contradictory to the claim. Probably, the writer does not understand the meaning of liberalism and needs guidance. Internet is full of enlightening sites. Here is an explanation of liberalism in its classical form. See: http://www.belmont.edu/lockesmith/essay.html.

I hope we are not witnessing the fall or decline of Iranian liberalism before its rise. The undeniable prejudice of the writer of "Unworthy Minorities" explains why people like current Iranian leaders are able to rule that troubled country. People with such attitude might needs help for treatment of unresolved conflicts and chronic hatred toward other fellow human beings.

Kamal Artin

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Khaak beh un saret

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

After reading the article written by Azam Nemati, I was pretty much disgusted I was not sure at what sometimes when you read something fast it overtakes you and then you read too much into it to be fair, . I then took a break and went back to read how in one line she compliments herself and her endeavors and in every other line she asks people to kiss her fat ass. This all stemming in her stepping into an article ["Sad & shameful"] which in my humble opinion was very appropriately written to response to another article ["One & the same"].

Its interesting how this woman starts her article saying she is interested in the minorities lamentation about how they have been persecuted, to make herself more compassionate, and then goes on the discuss how she views them in one view or another as a Vatan Foroosh. 

Listen you are not some dictator and you have no right to have expectations of people you can not on any scale comprehend. You used stereotypes and racial epithets of Jews, called them ugly, pooldar etc.. you are disgusted that Armenians speak their own language and went on to bash Bahais.. I was surprised you only stuck to religion why not Turks? why not their language and their sense of independent identity. I think you have an underlying dislike for religious minorties.

Your article warranted a second reading and third to solidify my initial disgust from reading your article. Who the hell are you saying people should be expelled from Iran and stripped of their Citizenship? What the hell are you doing in the US? Why don‚t you move your big fat Abadani ass back to Iran and complain there? You know why Jews help each other because they had to to survive bigoted ideals people like you have put forth. You know why Armenians stick together because they are forced to live in pogrom like environments and be called Najes and live besides muslims that only speak to them when they want their palms read. You know why Bahais help each other, because they don‚t want their daughters raped because they are virgins and cant be hung as virgins. DAMN AND THESE PEOPLE HAVE THE ORDACITY TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM THEIR ENVIRONMENT????? Aslan shoma fekr mikonin che gohee astin ham chenin chiza neveshti.?? Ms Nemati, those people distance themselves from people like you that exist in Iran and they cry about having to leave I miss my home very much.. but it is your opinions and views that disgust me.

As for Jews not considering themselves Iranian, you have not had enough exposure to Iranian Jews maybe your friends or people you associate yourself with may have left a bad taste in your mouth. Israel has an amazing PROUD Iranian population, they mantain their language and their traditions. Iranian Jews have an amazing history and never deny their heritage.. I met people in Israel who had only one grandparent they never met who was Iranian and they proudly spoke a few words of Persian and maintained Iranian jewish customs. I'm truly saddened and even angered by your article but you know if more bigoted idiots would come out and say what it is they are thinking it would be better everyone would know where they stand with people.

Vaghan ke khaak beh un saret, void of you being anything I would like to say on behalf of one nationalistic Iranian to another YOU ARE NOT THE VOICE OF NATIONALISM OR ALL IRANIANS AND Thank G-D for that.

Golnaz Motarassed

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Narcissist

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

Are you familiar with the word “narcissist”?

Nema Milaninia

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People have the audacity

On Golnaz Motarassed's letter "Khaak beh un saret":

There are other spelling mistakes in the letters, but this one is funny in the middle of a mud-slinging fest. She wrote: "... AND THESE PEOPLE HAVE THE ORDACITY TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM THEIR ENVIRONMENT?????"

SM

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Low esteem for non-Muslims

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

Being ridiculously curious about what new insults you can come up with, I read your latest contribution to iranian.com. I was again shocked at your tone and attitude towards the community you claim to hold in such high esteem; but I am no longer surprised. 

I respect your right to think whatever you will, but I do not respect the fact that you so self-righteously judge people based not on fact, but what is strictly your narrow minded opinion. I'm not sure who has died and made you judge of who is a 'worthy' Iranian. I keep reading your musings degrading everyone. By your standards, you and a handful of people who sing your praises and give money to your causes are the only worthy Iranians alive. And based on what you write, I think I feel kind of sorry for you.

I have an American aunt who I wouldn't trade for a gaggle of Iranian women; I have a beautiful cousin who probably wouldn't be Iranian enough to meet your standards. One of my best friends is Indian, married to an Iranian, and I'm constantly thinking how lucky he was to find such a wonderfully intelligent woman. Frankly, the more I look around me, the more I realize how many non-Iranians have married into our community and made our community and culture richer and more colorful with their presence.

As for the non-Muslim Iranians you address in your latest opinion: I can't help but think they may have crossed paths with a few 'worthy' Iranians like yourself over the years. I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that Iranian Armenians were originally from Armenia. If they speak Armenian, they are no different from the Turks who speak Turkish, or any other Iranian community who speak their local dialect. The difference is that unfortunately for every family who may have befriended them or not insulted them, there were plenty more who banned them from their neighborhoods and families. There are many Jewish, Bahaie and Zoroastrian Iranians who see themselves as Iranians and recognize the injustices the current regime inflicts on everyone. However they cannot forget or forgive being kept at a polite distance at the best of times and robbed, tortured and watched suspiciously in the worst of times by the people who claim to be their fellow countrymen and women. 

I'm sure you do great things for people you approve of and I respect whatever contributions you make to whatever projects interest you; but I do not appreciate you insulting members of our community because they don't measure up to your very 'interesting' standards of Iranian-ness. 

A very offended,

Parissa Sohie

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Deep disrespect for others

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

I found Azam Nemati's response to Ms. Bastanian's article ["Sad & shameful"] absolutely disgusting and a new low in how sick some minds can be. Azam, Instead of explaining why you disagree with the observation that minorities were mistreated in Iran, you instead pepper your letter with insulting stereotypes and unoriginal ethnic insults. Regardless, your incoherent and virulent ramblings are true poison. You are obsessed with comparing yourself to others and then wallowing in the jealously you feel at the pit of your heart.

This is what I learned about you by reading your letter:

You are probably unattractive (women who claim others are unattractive are usually themselves dogs)

You obsessively monitor other people's financial situation ('wealthy bahai', 'jewish princess')

You have childhood scarring from not celebrating Christmas - BOO HOO!!!

You have a deep disrespect for the beliefs of others (Musilim, Christian, Jew, Bahai, and others I am sure). Someone is not Iranian if they want to go to Mosque on friday??? Excuse me, but just who the hell are you telling others what they are? Oh right, you're just a well-done arab from abadan. SEE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE INSULTED? NOT VERY NICE, AZAM.

Ashghal e Abadani, please get some psychiatric help.

Zubin

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You can call me a traitor

On Azam Nemati's "Unworthy Iranians":

It is wonderful that your dear father has raised you with great values. However, I am having a hard time with the fact that you consider yourself liberal, pro choice, pro gay and hopefully pro human rights... yet you get infuriated when an Iranian Christian celebrates Christmas as their holiday, and you got offended when Bahai kids chose not to "participate in mischievous stuff you wanted to do." You also despise anyone who chooses to go to mosque or temple instead of cultural affairs? And for some odd reason you think people should consult with you on how they should spend their personal money, and what cause they should make donations to!

I don't see how you can consider yourself "Pro any kind of freedom" if you like to dictate what people should and should not do! I don't see how any of the things that infuriates you and puts people in your "shit list" infringes on your personal freedom to live your life as you wish?

I don't believe anyone has to do anything to "make YOU see them as Iranian". Who made you the authority of what we should do to be considered Iranian? Minorities in Iran have made significant contributions to Iranian history and culture.  This fact is also well documented.

What was your point for mentioning that you went to a Jewish engagement party where everyone was Jewish and not attractive? And what was your point about people flirting with you there? Are you saying that based on this experience now you believe that all Jewish people are not attractive and their men like to flirt? You admit that the worst part of that experience was that people asked you if you were Moslem... You did not like that?!  Well, minorities in Iran not only face this question everyday, but also they are blatantly discriminated against based on it.

We are not just talking about dislike and i nconvenience either. They are persecuted, become prisoners of conscience, are deprived of education and decent jobs, have their properties confiscated, cemeteries demolished... You have never experienced or witnessed injustice to minorities? I am glad for you. But you can not deny that it does exist. I invite you to visit Amnesty International's website just to get a glimpse of all the documented atrocities being done to Iranian minorities, unless you just consider your own experience in life the ultimate reality in the world.  You mentioned that you need a "fucking break" from someone that had dedicated their life documenting the "persecution of Bahais". You are one of the reasons that people dedicate their life documenting injustice... because people like you deny that it ever happened if things are not documented!

Over 2500 years ago, Cyrus issued the charter of "rights of nations", to express the coexistence of people from different cultures and religion background in one land. We consider Iran the cradle of civilization... yet today you proudly represent medieval ignorance by saying that minorities deserve all the discriminations they endure, or worse yet, you totally deny that there have been any wrong doings committed toward them.

The point of Ms. Bastanian's article ["Sad & shameful"] was to merely state the facts about treatment of minorities in Iran, not to gain your compassion, since you obviously have none.

In your article you warn that if they disagree with you, they are traitors!!!  Well, you can call me a traitor and put me in your "shit list" because as much as I have enjoyed your previous work, contributions and specially music compilations, I respectfully disagree with your point of view regarding this issue.

Dadgostar

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We're Arabs?

On video "Hejab and spaghetti":

As an Iranian abroad, I found it very insulting that we Iranians can not differentiate ourselves from Arabs. If we don't , then let's not complain if other nations consider us as Arabs! Please see below a video that I have received from a foreign friend re Iran posted on your site.

NR

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Learning more about Iranians

I am an American, not of Iranian descent, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your website, Iranian.com. I enjoy the humour, the incredibly well written and interesting articles and learning more about Iranian Americans and their culture. I am very interested in Iranian culture and even started learning some Farsi. I've read many books on Iran, with a focus on Iranian women writers. One day I hope to visit Iran, and hopefully the tyrants who control it now will be long gone.

Kheyli mamnoon for the great website!

Michelle

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How many times are we going to get fooled?

To all Iranians:

I'm sadened and deeply disturbed that what follows are the sayings of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and even more deeply ashamed that we, as an ancient and wise nation, brought this man to power, an act of national suicide, for which we're still collectively paying for with our honor, reputation, and blood.

How could we have been so categorically wrong about a man so out of touch with what it really means to be Iranian? After all, we are the nation that gave the world the credo of "Good words, Good thoughts and Good deeds."

Sadly, more often than not, ignorance and pride are different sides of the same coin. But some say ignorance is bliss. I say ignorance is dangerous.  I say ignorance is a disease, for it can be contagious. And yes, ignorance can be deadly. In fact, Ignorance can spell doom for a once-proud and wise nation.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. How many times are we going to get fooled by our so-called holy men (akhunds) and their backers, all of whom have no clue as to what it really means to be Iranian?

The sayings of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini:

"A man can have sexual pleasure with a child as young
as a baby. However, he should not penetrate;
sodomizing (anal sex) the child is fine. If the man
penetrates and damages the child, then he should be
responsible for her subsistence all her life. This
girl, however, does not count as one of his four
permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry
the girl's sister."

From Khomeini's book, "Tahrirolvasyleh", fourth volume, Darol Elm, Qom, Iran, 1990.

"It is better for a girl to marry in such a time when
she would begin menstruation at her husband's house
rather than her father's home. Any father marrying his
daughter so young will have a permanent place in
heaven."

From Khomeini's book, "Tahrirolvasyleh", fourth
volume, Darol Elm, Qom, Iran, 1990.

"A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows,
camels and so on. However he should kill the animal
after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat
to the people in his own village; however, selling the
meat to the next door village should be fine."

From Khomeini's book, "Tahrirolvasyleh", fourth
volume, Darol Elm, Qom, Iran, 1990.

"If one commits the act of sodomy with a cow, a sheep
or a camel, their urine and their excrement become
impure, and even their milk may no longer be consumed.
The animal must then be killed and as quickly as
possible and burned."

Ramin Parsa

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First class

Today, I logged into your site for the first time. I was very very impressed. You are a first class websit. Congratulaions.

Justin A. Ali
San Jose, CA

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How to campaign against war?

Esteemed journalist Elaine Sciolino in Persian Mirrors mentioned a conversation with some of the student leaders after the attacks on university dorms in 1998. She complained to them that why she and many other foreign correspondents were not invited to their press conference. The students looked at each other and naively confessed: "We did not know how to contact you." Although much could be said about Reform Administration in Iran, one could not be fair without mentioning a few points about grass-root work and students' leadership in those eight years. Their naivety has left much to be desired from their leadership experience. Today anti-war Iranians and students abroad can learn from those lessons and not repeat them.

Many are against any attack on Iran. Any sanctions on food, drugs or business and educational travels would certainly harm Iranian people and development of Iran and only results in more hardships for Iranians. To prevent this campaigning is the only legitimate instrument at hand. However it is not hard to understand why many Iranians and Iranian students abroad might be reluctant to partake in such activities too openly. Being citizens of a country already on blacklist many, including the writer, have gone different checks and controls during last years. Many waited in long lines to report to INS and to register. Most of Iranian students could not travel easily and have not been home for last 5 or 6 years. Nobody can expect these groups to sacrifice their gains or future, which they have earned so expensively. But there are other ways.

Iranians and Iranians students are not alone in their anti-war sympathies. There are many groups and communities who are eager to learn about our country Iran and oppose the policies of White House. In many schools there are chapters of Amnesty International and other humanitarian groups. Last years the moderate increase in Iranian students' population in different schools has increased the number of their associations such as Persian Cultural Groups, Iranian Students Associations and several Iranian Graduate Students Societies. These groups are mostly non-political. They have done a fantastic job introducing Iranian Culture and organizing social events in last years. Most of them had hold fund risings for Bam earthquake and sponsored talks and seminars on Iran. These groups could and should continue to pass on Information about Iran and Iranians. There is no need to take side in Iran's domestic political affairs, but that should not prevent anyone from doing anything s/he can do to prevent this catastrophe.

These are a number of things one can do:

1. One can contact Amnesty International and Grass Root Organizations in your schools or areas. One also can contact your student unions and ask them to organize petitions to politicians and members of legislations. It must be remembered a peaceful campaign is the best way.
2. Write for your schools' journals or contact the editors to express your concerns.
3. Organize talks on Iran; be honest about the history of country. As a representative you do NOT need to take side.
4. Introduce books and show documentaries in food courts, student unions and etc. Introduce books from both sides.
5. Organize petitions, meet members of legislation and express your concerns. Tell them why you think negotiation is the best way to handle this. If you do not want to partake in this, at least tell it to those who are eager to do so.
6. One can set up petitions in student unions and ask people for signatures.
7. Do not hesitate to set up petitions to ask Iranian government not to develop nuclear weapons. It would be a rather fair action.
8. If one hears somebody talking of doing some stupid thing to oppose one or other side, do stop him/her and ask him/her to talk to a therapist.
9. Talk of Iranian people, there is no shame in saying that they make their decisions based on economic factors. Talk of their worries, their concerns and their image of the world.
10. Encourage gestures such as sending books to Iranian schools or earthquake places in Iran. You also can organize greeting cards send outs. These are symbolic ones, but create a connection and a moment of peace.
a. If you do so, make sure school paper reports it.

Again and again do not take sides for one or other political group. What Ahmadi Neghad says about Israel or some other countries are not  Iranian people's opinion. Remind people of Iran's non-aggressive history and the fact that Iranians never wish anybody any harm as a people. Reach out to the people.

If you are a devoted Muslim think of it as a duty for good of you Muslim brothers and sisters, to which nobody has attended.

If you are a secular Iranian, think of it as your duty toward hometown, a country in need of peace to develop the tolerance and diversity you are seeking.

If you are a second generation, come help to save a country one day you could be proud of and you may want to visit as to learn about your heritage.

And If you are a citizen of the world, do it because it is the right thing to do. Nothing will be gained from bombing Iran; a lot can be gained from peace and moderation. Let's help preserve the peace.

Ali

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Islam yes, Islamic government maybe not

On Hugh Fitzgerald's "Step forwad":

Not pragmatic,realistic and logical article. We, Muslims , believe in Allah and his prophet mohammad not in Arabs or mullahs. People in Iran may want change in goverment system but they will never quit Islam.

ali majidi

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Misconceptions

On Guive Mirfendereski's "I speak Irani"

The Language: "Farsi" or "Persian"?

Persian (Iranian) people in the English-speaking countries are the only community who use two different terms to refer to their language, "Farsi" and "Persian." This behavior has caused some confusion among the Westerners as to the appropriateness of these terms.

"Farsi" (an Arabic adaptation of the word "Parsi"), is the indigenous name of the Persian language. Just as the German speaking people refer to their language as 'Deutsch', the Greek 'Ellinika' and the Spanish 'Espanol', the Persians use 'Farsi' or 'Parsi' to identify their native form of verbal communication.

In English, however, this language has always been known as "Persian" ('Persane' in French and 'Persisch' in German'). But many Persians migrating to the West (particularly to the USA) after the 1979 revolution continued to use 'Farsi' to identify their language in English and the word became commonplace in English-speaking countries.

In the West when one speaks of 'Persian Language', people can immediately connect it with several famous aspects of that culture and history such as Persian Gulf, Persian Carpet, Persian food, Persian poetry, Persian cat, etc. But "Farsi" is void of such link which is only obvious for people in Persia (Iran) and a few other nations in the Middle East.

The Academy of the Persian Language and Literature (Farhangestan) in Tehran has also delivered a pronouncement on this matter and rejected any usage of the word "Farsi" instead of Persian/Persa/Persane/Persisch in the Western languages. The first paragraph of the pronouncement states: "PERSIAN has been used in a variety of publications including cultural, scientific and diplomatic documents for centuries and, therefore, it connotes a very significant historical and cultural meaning. Hence, changing 'Persian' to 'Farsi' is to negate this established important precedence. Changing 'Persian' to 'Farsi' may give the impression that it is a new language, and this may well be the intention of some Farsi users…"

Fortunately all International broadcasting radios with Persian language service (e.g. VOA, BBC, DW, RFE/RL, etc.) use "Persian Service", in lieu of the incorrect "Farsi Service." That is also the case for the American Association of Teachers of Persian, The Centre for Promotion of Persian Language and Literature, and several American and European notable universities.

Some mistakably believe that, in English, the official language of Iran should be called "Farsi," while the language spoken in Tajikistan or Afghanistan should be labeled as "Dari," and "Persian" should be utilized to refer to all of them! However, the difference between the Persian spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, or Tajikistan is not significant and substantial enough to warrant such a distinction and classification. Consider the following case. An Egyptian and a Qatari engage in a conversation in Arabic. They will encounter a great deal of difficulties in comprehending each other. Despite this fact, however, the language used in their conversation is referred to as "Arabic." No one will even attempt to classify their respective dialects separately and refer to them as "Qatari" and "Egyptian"! On the other hand, Persians, Tajiks or Afghans can converse in Persian and easily understand each other. Then, why should their dialects be classified separately and referred to by different names?

In English, usage of "Farsi" in place of "Persian," that has been common since 1980s, is as inaccurate and odd as using "Farsi Gulf" instead of "Persian Gulf."

The Country: "Persia" and "Iran"?

There has been much debate as to what to call Iran in common usage of the English language. The two possible names are "Iran " and "Persia"; their adjectives being "Iranian" and "Persian", respectively.

Serious argument on this matter began in the 1980s, when Professor Ehsan Yarshater (Editor of the Encyclopedia Iranica) started to write several articles on this matter (in both English and Persian) in Rahavard Quarterly, Pars Monthly, Iranian Studies Journal, etc. After him, a few Persian scholars and researchers such as Kazem Abhary (Professor at the South Australian University) followed the issue. Several times since then, Persian magazines and websites have published articles from those who agree or disagree with usage of ' Persia' and 'Persian' in English.

In view of many of these articles, it seems that the subject has not been explained sufficiently. Some think the name Persia belongs to antiquity, and ought not to be used now. Others believe that " Persia" includes only one province within Iran , and should not be used for the whole country. There are also many Persians and non-Persians in the West who prefer "Persia" and "Persian" as the English names for the country and nationality, similar to the usage of "La Perse/Persane" in French, and "Persien/Perser/Persisch" in the German language.

Most countries and languages have different names in other languages. For example, Germans call their language "Deutsch"; in English people say "German", and Persian-speaking people say "Almaani" (The Persian word Almaani comes from the French word "L'Allemagne"). People of Greece, Finland , India and Japan call their countries Hellas, Suomi, Bharat and Nippon in their respective languages. Similarly, the native name of "Persia " is Iran.

Since 600 BC, Greeks used the name "Persis" for Persia / Iran. Persis was taken from "Pars" (the name of the region where the Persian rulers lived). Persian people likewise used the name of "Younaan" (instead of internal term of " Hellas") for Greece . "Younan" in fact is taken from the name of "Lonia", in the south-east of Greece. "Persis" since then has been used as the name of Iran in all European documents, maps, etc. Only in later centuries did some Europeans (in view of their languages) changed it to " Persia" (English, Italian and Spanish), "La Perse" (French), "Persien" (German), etc. The name " Persia" until 1935 was the official name of Iran in the world, but Persian people inside their country since the Sassanian period have called it "Iran " meaning "the land of Aryans". They also used "Parsa" in the Achaemenids period.

In 1935, Reza Shah announced that all Western countries should use the name of " Iran" in their languages too. This act brought cultural damage to the country and separated Iran from its past in the West. Also, many people confused it with Iraq (an Arab state West of Iran). For many westerners, " Persia" became a dead empire that does not exist anymore.

After some Persian scholars protested this announcement, in 1959 Prof. Ehsan Yarshater made a committee to research this matter. The committee announced that "changing the name has not been right", so Mohammad Reza Shah announced that both ' Persia' and 'Iran ' can be used interchangeably.

Pejman Akbarzadeh

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Cold shower for gods of war

On nuclear crisis:

Back in 2005 when I put together the compilation "What if", I knew these days were coming.

Since then, I have been working full time on Wikipedia to upload and publish as much documentation and information as possible from Iran's history, heritage, people, culture, and identity, before it is all "liberated" and bombed back into the stone age.

Make no mistake: This war will not just incur huge loss of life. It will cost Iran its sovereignty and its very identity. At best, it will turn Iran into a rubbled obsolete Afghanistan. At worst, it will tear up Iran into ethnic pieces, carving out several new republics. The ethnic posse are already hard at work on Wikipedia, actively defaming Iran and her people in every possible way, and selling the idea of Balkanization of Iran to Wikipedia's 2 Billion visitors per month.

This escalating confrontation is not about Iran's failure to back down from its position, or to stop enrichment, eena hamash bahaanast. It's about principles. A pre-emptive doctrine to nuke other countries is no different from the twisted apocalyptic ideology of Iran's zealots that have put Iran in such harms way. Crusade is the bastard twin of Jihad. As Jorge Hirsch put it best:

"If Iran declared it will stop nuclear production, the US would make other demands: that it opens up all its military facilities to inspections, destroys all its missiles, whatever it takes to get Iran to say "no", and then use that as a reason to attack."

Question: Are there any possible solutions to this emerging crisis? What can we do? Answer: Anything that will make these Gods of War ease their erection for destruction and actually sit down and talk to eachother. I dont know, maybe hire that little brat Cupid to shoot an arrow into the Neocon warmongering and Baseeji-e-Barareh-i ass, so that they might Make Love Not War.

Nima Kasraie

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Free aftaabehs

Dear Siamack,

I don't live in the US, but I'm really tempted to ask the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to have the complete discography of Om-Kalthoom broadcast 24h/day into the internment camp just to piss all you Wannabian-Americans off.

Just to make sure that's done, I'm thinking about proposing to supply the DHS for free with the 1.5 million aftaabehs everyone will be asking for once the internment starts.

Don't get me on my creative side with your ideas now.

Sincerely,

Parham

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Deport Mack

On Siamack Baniameri's "Iranian-American Internment Camp":

I request to have Mack Baniameri excluded from the camp and deported to Tehran as the internees' special envoy to negotiate a deal with Ahmadinejad. There is a double blessing in this: First, Iran's nuclear programme will suffer a serious blow when Ahmadinejad is admitted to hospital with an acute case of PBA (pseudo-bulbar affect -- uncontrollable laughing and crying) as he cannot decide whether to laugh or cry at Mack's proposals.

Second, the LA internees will be well rid of Mack, hence saved from the same affliction.

Parkhash

ps -- it would be even better if Mack's ticket is bought one way.

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Something's missing

Searching for birth mother:

My name is Shamsi Haynes (born: 09/03/1958) and I was adopted at the age of 3 from an orphanage in Techran and moved to the U.S, where I have lived all my life. I felt something was missing in me and I truelly believe it's my birth mom that is missing from my heart. I hope there is someone out there that can help me figure out where I came from. Please

Do you know if there is a certain individual or agency in Iran that I can go to directly for more assistance.

Love,

Shamsi H.

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Thank you

On Mina Hakim-Bastanian's "Sad & shameful":

Khanom-e Hakim Bastanian,

Thank you for your dignified response to Ms. Ghahremani's most undignified remarks about religious minorities in Iran [See: Zohreh Ghahremani's "Cold & dark"].

Rami Yelda

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