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    Letters

    December 1998

    Letters are posted here a week after they appear in The Iranian Times.

Latest

* Iranian-American:
- Sincere appreciation
* Abadan:
- What do they mean?

- Khaaterati zendeh kardi
* Food:
- My wife's a vegetarian

* Revolution:
- The shah made mistakes. But...

* Yalda:
- Fundamentally different


Thursday
December 31, 1998

* Sincere appreciation

[To The Iranian and the White House:]

As an Iranian-American, I sincerely appreciate your [President Clinton's] appointment of Mr. Hassan Nemazee as U.S. ambassador to Argentina.

Bagher R. Harandi
[email protected]

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* My wife's a vegetarian

There are many Iranians who are vegetarins ["dAyi Hamid's 'Eat this'"]. My wife is vegatarian and has been one for the past six years. However, I do not have her will and still eat meat (mostly white meat). She has tried to convert me but I can't give up my bad habits.

[email protected]

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Wednesday
December 30, 1998

* The shah made mistakes. But who doesn't?

This is a response on the letter "Another Shahanshah? No thank you." I was only six-years old when the revolution took place. I left Iran nine years after witnessing a horrifying war and having both my parents jailed and tortured at Evin "university." Both my parents were "purged" and many other members of my family experienced the same ordeal. Let me tell you my mother was a midwife and in my family there were teachers, doctors and engineers. On top of that we were denied to get a passport and leave the country. In those days of war, blood and long lines for basic necessities of life, I was always reminded of the days when Iranian singers and dancers entertained people with our rich culture.

Let me save you from any prejudgment. I am not a monarchist. No member of my family enjoyed favor with the previous regime. We were as apolitical as one could be. We were Iranians who were not SHI'ITE Muslims. Since 1979, that has been a crime in Iran. I am not writing this to defend monarchy or the late Shah. I am here to remind my distinguished countryman that he is wrong to assume that everything was terrible in pre-1979 Iran and that everything was fine between 1979-80 ... FULL TEXT

M. Jalili
[email protected]

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Tuesday
December 29, 1998

* What do they mean?

I noticed that this week The Iranian Times web address is dedicated to "Braim" and that really made me homesick. Then I saw the picture of Alfi's store in Abadan and that filled my eyes.

I am a born-and-raised Abadani and spent my childhood not far from the Alfi Store. However, we used to call the area Beraim, not Braim. Does anyone know what the word stands for? And, for that matter, does anyone know what Bavardeh (as in Bavardeh shomali and Bavardeh jonoobi neighborhoods in Abadan) means?

I have a hunch they both may be souvenirs brought to the oil company community by Indian laborers during the early 1900s.

Mahin Motamedi Witkowski
[email protected]

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* Khaaterati zendeh kardi

Chaakeram, Hamid az España. I was just looking at the Abadan pictures. I din't know many of these people except the ones who moved to Ahvaz, like Matin Karbasiyoon, Marjan & Mahshid Madani Nezhad...

Damet kheyli garm, khaaterati zendeh kardi. Mokhles hamishegi,

Hamid Bahadori
[email protected]

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* If you read carefully

Dear Ataollah,

Thanks for your comments on my paper ["Cyber clash"]. Please be assured that this article was not intended to make any generalizations about Iranian youth. If you read carefully, I have tried to qualify this research, my conclusions and my interviews, and by no means do I present this as scientific "data" on the whole of Iranian young people:... FULL TEXT

Dokhi Fassihian
[email protected]

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Monday
December 28, 1998

* Fundamentally different

Dear Mr. Farhang,

Your enthusiasm for the ancient Iran heritage/ traditions and Zoroastianism is commendable ["Inaccurate heresies"]. However, such desire should not stretch concepts beyond the realm of reality. Your statements about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism and the dual concepts of heaven & hell, good & evil; is fundamentally different in the Unitarian beliefs of Moslems, Christians, or Jews than it is in Zoroastianism.

Sheytan in Islam, is created by Allah and DOES NOT have equal might. In Zoroastiaraninism, Ahreman is a separate entity and in competition with Ahoora! The divine religions such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are monistic in nature and do not believe in the concept of dual nature of the universe. In such beliefs, good and evil are intertwined.

I am a moslem and have tremendous respect for Zoroaster and his concepts as well as our rich Iranian culture, but above all, respect the truth, specially the proven documented ones!

Sadri Khalessi
[email protected]

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Friday,
December 25, 1998

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Thursday
December 24, 1998

* More by saying less

Sometimes one's right to remain silent can better inform the public, or allow them to understand the situation in a more accurate way ["Freedom not to react"]. This is perhaps relevant in the case of the recent murders in Iran. In my view, any expression of shock in reaction to these murders can only undermine the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran has continually committed similar or worse crimes in the past.

The current Iranian regime and its administrators have a 20-year history of murders, mass killings; they have set forth policies that have resulted in the migration of millions of people. To highlight Forouhar's tragedy as a shocking and brutal act would only help the regime to erase the history of crimes under the Islamic Republic and create an illusion about the existence of freedom and security in the past.

Also, elevating Forouhar and the murdered writers to national heroes and people's martyrs obscure the fact that most of these individuals had in the past somehow put their stamp of approval on the Islamic Republic and its crimes. Mr Forouhar was an IRI minister when hundreds of monarchists were being executed in Iran for no reason other than opposing the revolution. Mr Mokhtari, as a staunch supporter of Fadaiyan Aksariyat organization supported the wave of violent oppression that started in 1981. Unlike hundreds of other intellectuals who took their lives to safety, these individuals chose to stay in Iran and risk their lives under an authoritarian regime that cannot tolerate wisdom and freedom.

Lately, especially since the election of Khatami to the presidential office and the outpouring of support of the Western media in favor of the new president, silent elements in Iran's social and political circles started to get active, under the assumption that there is rule of law and civil society in Iran. These murders only prove this tactic to be wrong and harmful to the very same people who advocate them.

In fact Mr and Mrs Forouhar, along with the assassinated writers, are the victim of their own miscalculations. This in no way should suggest that they deserved to be killed. As a matter of fact these killings have caused a deep sense of grief among thousands of Iranians inside and outside of Iran. Yet this pain and anger unfortunately does not qualify the murdered victims as heroes or people's martyrs.

When reality is complicated and one simply does not hold all the pieces to the puzzle, the freedom to remain silent can be more informative than repeating whatever other people and groups are saying about these murders. I myself would have remained silent on this topic, if Mr Roshanvaran's letter ["Where are the strategic thinkers?"] had not asked for a public debate about this issue!

[email protected]

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* Totally nonsense

The response of Mr. Mirfendereski ["Freedom not to react"] to Roshanravan's letter ["Where are the strategic thinkers?"] is totally nonsense. He could not give a proper response because he doesn't have a proper response to this very credible question. My suggestion to him is, you have the freedom to keep quite, but we know you very well, in other words, you can be a good KHAR RANG KON, but who is the KHAR?

[email protected]

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Wednesday
December 23, 1998

* Inaccurate heresies

It is a pity that people least knowledgeable about the Iranian heritage, allow themselves to publish so many inaccurate heresies. Your piece on Yalda [by the French news agency (AFP)] is a point in mind. Please note the following:

1- Zoroastrianism is not a "sect", but the forebearer of all religions. The first to recognize the "Unity" of God, long before the Jews. Would AFP refer to the Jewish religion as a "Sect"?

2- All religions are "dualists" in the sense that there is a good and an evil. In fact the concepts of "Reward and Punishment," "Heaven and Hell," and "Ahuramazda and Ahriman" are all doctrines, first postulated by the Zoroastrians, and later adopted by Judaism, which later inspired the Christianity and Islam.

3- "Yalda" is an ancient Iranian word for "birth." The Arabic derivatives "yalad", "yoolad", "tavalod", etc. are some extension of the word.

4- Yalda in fact refers to the birth of Mitra, the real ancient Iranian deity "Sun God," -- remember from this day on, the sun reappears longer and longer in each passing day). Mitra's teachings, until the the year 376 A.D. (so-called), were the basis of the official religion of the Roman Empire, and Yalda, was celebrated by the populace. On this year, and after the occupation of the last Mitraeum ( the name for places of worship by Mitraist, like synagogues for the Jews, Church for the Christians and Mosques for the Moslems), in Rome, Pope Leo decreed that Jesus was borne on December 25th. and the people, then, were required to celebrate this day as Christmas. (If you visit Rome, you should insist on visiting this Mitraeum, which is directly below the basilica in the Vatican.)

5- The lighting of a Christmas tree is also an Iranian tradition of old times ["Merry Mitra"]. On Yalda, they would decorate a sarve (cypress) , "Rocket Juniper." This genus of the pine, which was much more abundant in Iran, plus its upright beauty, shooting straight up towards the stars, was a much better candidate for decoration.

In Europe, alas, the sarve was not plentiful, and in Germany where the custom of Christmas tree was initiated by Luther, the abundant pine became the popular choice. In Iran, the custom of the tree decoration, even today, can be found in less frequented villages where the hopefuls decorate any tree, locally available, with colorful ribbons in the hope that their wishes are gratified. Go and decorate a sarve.

Happy Mitra Yalda or as some have suggested, Happy Mitramass.

Hashem Farhang
[email protected]

P.S. I am not a Zoroastrian but certainly an Iranian.

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Tuesday
December 22, 1998

* Canonizing martyred writers

Iranians, like all other human beings, too easily forget the events of the recent past ["In the name of the pen"]. I think it is important that a "List of Martyrs for A Civil Society" be kept on The Iranian for those who have died in the IRI since Khordad of 1997. People can then go and see that Iran's struggle toward "civil society" is real, painful, tragic, and embarrassing.

Someone owes it to the people who have been killed, to not allow their lives be swept under the rug. To me it is ironic that the country which gave birth to and claims Hafez, Sa'adi, Khayyam, Rumi, Ferdosi, Attar, Nezami, Sohrevardi, Dehkhoda, Bahar, and on and on is now systematically allowing its next generation of greats be buried without a pause or gasp or shreak.

For Iranians this is right down our alley: a list of martyrs, writers no less. It's tragic that we do not cherish people while they are with us, instead they have to become Shahids for us to pay our respects. Well, let's do our part; let's pay respect to our Shahid Writers.

I know this is a sensitive subject... but someone's cloth has to be tough enough to weather the storm and (electronically) canonize these poor souls.

Arazoo Dorosti
[email protected]

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* Cold and cheated

It was nice to see that you had a photo of the late Mohammad Mokhtari ["In the name of the pen"]. You also had him as the "feature," meaning that there would be articles about him, his work, what he said, life story... something!

Instead you have links to other media announcements form various sites. Which is okay, and I found information that I had not found before, but you are mislabeling your front-page.

I felt a bit cold and cheated. I expected a lot more out of your website.

[email protected]

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Monday
December 21, 1998

* Absolute genius

I first read this poem ["Iraj Mirza: "Missing the point"] in 8th grade (eight years ago). Government censorship and a teenager's curiosity had made it that much more interesting to read. It was actually this poem, which I believe is called "Aref NAmeh" and not "ChAdor", that introduced me to Iraj Mirza's other works.

To me he is an absolute genious. His poems are simple yet so expressive and clear, and the fact that he was a "Shahzadeh" gave him the freedom and immunity to openly create poems, no one had attempted before in Iran.

Iraj describes the ignorance and vulgar culture of Iran with uttermost talent. The fact that his poems relate so closely to today's Iran shows how backward we have been moving for the past twenty years.

Attached is one of my favorite Iraj poems. Hope you like it too.

Farhad Jahromi
[email protected]

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Friday,
December 18, 1998

* Search for meaning & belonging

Looking at your feature "Where on earth" was quite an emotional experience for me. I browsed through alumni sites and looked at names and places. I was not looking for any particular person, just looking.

The "psychology of marginalization" (that is the psycho social and mental health consequences of experiencing a marginalized status) and the "psychology of migration" are important matters to look at. Perhaps the most fundamental disruption of migration is the uprooting of meaning. What are roots to plants, meaning is to human beings. Through the structure of meaning, each person keeps their relationships to others, to work, and to a soil and a culture that provides familiarity and stability.

During our lives we belong to different groups or acquire membership of different cycles, such as our nationality, gender, language, education, etc. We pass through different periods of our lives and go on different pathways. The need for shared meanings and experiences stays with us.

I suspect the fact that Iranians are all over the world and are looking for each other, is another confirmation to of the need to belong and the power of belonging.

Yasaman Mottaghipour
[email protected]

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Thursday
December 17, 1998

* Deep crap

Wow just what we needed, more Disco! I'm sorry, "House"!

I tried. I really tried. Maybe I'm getting old. But I just can't accept another slick-packed Iranian DJ duo as legitimate music. Sorry, Deep Dish is too predictable, from the name, right down to their black background website!

Maybe in the U.S. east coast this is considered a novelty. I have noticed that east and west coast Iranians have developed somewhat differing scales of what is considered culture.

Here in the west coast, we have a lot of Iranian "House" DJ's. All the music sounds the same and while it makes for a fun night out with friends, I wouldn't call yet another assemblage of pre-recorded stock loops and drum machines, art.

Get a guitar, hit the keyboard, grab the mike and let's see what you can do! But don't use a mouse, some cheap software, slap it on a $200 CD-burner and expect me to bring it into my "House"!

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Wednesday
December 16, 1998

* Double standard

Double standard: I wish all the people who make up the minorities in Iran were "writers" and "intellectuals," then what has been happening to them for a long time would get the proper attention ["In the name of the pen"].

Sepehr Sohrab
[email protected]

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Tuesday
December 15, 1998

* Ignorant?

I don't agree to a few things in this article ["Lunch with Khomeini"], but the point that really bothers me is that, the Ayatollah here is actually referred to as "IGNORANT." Ayatollah Khomeini, ignorant?

Iram V.
[email protected]

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Monday
December 14, 1998

* Seeming indifference

Why is it that you do not provide us with more detailed information about the current political situation in Iran?

The current atmosphere of terror against Iranian writers and intellectuals is not only of concern to those who live inside the country but also to those of us living outside Iran and the international community at large.

It is not enough to only report what "IRNA" and other such news agencies provide on the current situation. Your so-called feature writers seem to be engaged with either nostalgia or their daily affairs.

While I do not suggest that such topics are unimportant, I remain concerned about your seeming indifference as to what goes on inside our country. Since Khatami's election we have seen a "reversal of fortunes" for our people ; daily violations of human rights seems to be the reward for casting "22 million" votes for Khatami.

And yet one has to search hard to find anything on the subject in your electronic news magazine. Living in exile is a multi dimensional experience and needs to be addressed from all directions.

We can not, however, be ignorant about the struggle of our people under a primitive, outdated system of government which is an embarrassment to us all.

Faramarz Nahapan
[email protected]

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Friday,
December 11, 1998

* Can we accept immigrant status?

I would like to discuss an issue which has been somewhat problematic for me and I like to see how other Iranians living abroad and particularly in the U.S. deal with it. The fact is that after living in the U.S. for almost 30 years I have not been able to fully Americanize myself and, as they say, melt in the pot. I do not know whether the problem is they way I look or my accent or maybe my name, but in either case, I still have not been able to divorce myself completely from the land where I was born. Should I even want to do that?

I still follow all the news and events happening in Iran very carefully. I see a lot of other Iranian immigrants having similar problems, those who came before the revolution and got their degrees stayed here and never went back, and those who came after 1979. The picture that they have in their mind is the Iran of 25 years ago. They cannot fully grasp the changes that has been taken place. Those who came after the revolution in search of a better life cannot let go of Iran in their minds and hearts. I wonder if we ever will.

I guess the big question is: Can Iranians accept being immigrants? like Italians or the Irish or so many other groups that have come to U.S. and have, more or less, melted in the pot. Maybe it is too soon to tell or perhaps our rich culture and ancestry prohibit us from accepting the immigrant life-style and always yearning to go back.

Masood Rad
[email protected]

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Thursday
December 10, 1998

* It should be remembered

Although it is nice to see Mr. Soroush also joining the ranks of the disenchanted ["Beyond words"], it should be remembered that at the begining of the revolution he was one of its great advocates and tried to give it a respectable face. He mercilessly criticized people of other convictions in radio and television and held high office. How sad that we now forget and again give him room to speak on the same platform as those that he oppressed with his views.

D. Nikkhah

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* Finally!

I am so happy that finally somebody is explaining marriage laws in Iran to Iranian men abroad ["Tonboon-e faati"]. I don't think they have the right to criticize a mother who is thinking of nothing but her daughter's future. I wish there were more parents like that. As a wife and a mother, I thank you.

Nana Farshad
[email protected]

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Wednesday
December 9, 1998

* I wish I could go

Thanks very much for sharing those beautiful pictures from Kerman! I now wish I could afford (both time and money) to visit Iran. I have always heard interresting things about the mountains there.

If you'd like to look, I have some pictures from my home state of California (USA) on my web page.

Tom Kenney
[email protected]

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Tuesday
December 8, 1998

* Purposely lost

On the "Where on Earth" stuff, could you ask that people who do know where someone is just tell that person that they are being searched out and give them the name and phone/e-mail of the seeker?

There are people, especially women, who are purposely lost, escaping abuse. Whether you take my suggestion or not, I hope you take it seriously. In the wrong hands, this wonderful and needed resource can be just too easy.

C.D.

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Monday
December 7, 1998

* Where are the "strategic thinkers" now?

The tragic murder of Dr. Daryoush Foruhar and Mrs. Parvaneh Foruhar did not get any reaction from all those highly-educated "strategic thinkers" who regularly post their opinions on various issues concerning "Democratic openings" under Khatami and his "Dovom-e Khordad Miracle"!

It is indeed curious that those Iranian intellectuals, artists, professors, politicians, journalists, and what have you who are trigger-happy when it comes to condemning egg-trhowings at ex-hostage-taker-killer-of-political-prisoners-now-turned-into-democrats, are silent on this criminal murder!

Why? Because this is how you can play a double role in exile: you can play the role of a democrat who is for "dialogue" even with the likes of Assadollah Lajevardi; and at the same time, you can float in the heavens as a "strategist" who thinks in much bigger terms such as the "future of Iranian nation, of oil, of ping-pong diplomacy, of dialogue between civilizations" and a host of other such "khar rang kon" issues.

In short, these "democratic intellectual stategists" have bigger fish to fry than to care about the murder of the likes of Foruhars! Hafez said: chon nadidand haqiqat, rah-e afsaaneh zadand! (because they could not see the truth, they turned to fables!)

Roshanravan
[email protected]

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Friday,
December 4, 1998

* Not because I'm a Bahai...

I read "The education of Mahdiyeh," and it certainly touched my heart. This world needs more people like yourself, people with a great deal of integrity, and insight: A mystic! I don't say this because I happen to be a Bahai, rather I say this because I see how open-minded and open-spirited you are. My best wishes to you in all your efforts in life.

Bahereh
[email protected]

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Thursday
December 3, 1998

* Overdue self-critique

Ali Reza-qoli's book ["Who's next?"] is a timely and at the same time overdue beginning to what may be a fruitful and constructive exploration of our self as a nation and as an individual, enlightened self-critique and evlauation toward self-betterment and improvment of our human environment as well.

Also, many thanks for the photographic retrospective of the Iranian woman's periplus through the decades ["laid back"]. I am not a photographer nor an artist, and my knowledge of the science does not reach beyond a disposable camera. Yet, I found myself mesmerized by the pictures. None, however, moved me more than the image of the subject cradled in the bossom of Iranian antiquity welcoming the reader to magazine. Wow!

Guive Mirfendereski
[email protected]

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Wednesday
December 2, 1998

* Compliments

Here are some kind words from our readers:

Pouya Rahimi writes: We love your internet site. It is very informative and entertaining especially for those who have not recieved the chance to see Iran very well, e.g. me in New Zealand. Dast-e shomaa dard nakoneh!

Cutee writes: I am an Iranian mother with 3 kids from Virginia. I would like to give many thanks to you for the infromation you gave us. It's great to know someone out there is keeping Iran alive. Thanks (merci)

Khatera writes: I was browsing the web and came across your paper and since then I have been reading it online and I must say I enjoy it. The writings are great and it covers a wide range of issues - which I can relate to (even though I'm Afghani). I look forward to your future issues. Thank You!

Abe Habibi writes: I would like to thank you all, for making this opportunity for all Iranian to unify. I wish to see this path become a greater than ever, every day.

Finite Mass writes: God bless you, this is an excellent publication!

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Tuesday
December 1, 1998

* Money talks, Iranians listen

"People of extremes" was an interesting article. I liked it! Here's some of my thoughts on it. First of all, to analyze Iranians in general by analyzing the ones who live outside Iran is totally unfair. Remember that the author's American father had nothing but positive experiences while living IN IRAN. Some of the characteristics of the Iranians living abroad, is the result of the circumstances in which they left Iran. Some left to get a higher education and then return to Iran. This group typically set high standards for themselves.

They sought to get an education in the fields of medicine, law, and engineering not because they were looking for status but Iran needed and still needs more doctors, lawyers and engineers. Well, maybe not lawyers. Those of us living in the U.S. know what it is like when there are too many lawyers around. Talk about back stabbing, cheating and lying.

Some left Iran after the revolution thinking that they will have a better life style and are much better off outside of Iran for different reasons. Many of them have had to endure severe financial hardship and have had to resort to less than ethical means to make a living. I don't believe you can single out Iranians in this case.

As far as being money hungry, name a country where its people turn money down! This is the 90's and it's how people in the West tend to justify every peculiar behavior. Being money hungry is no exception! "Money talks" as they say and most Iranian immigrants have caught on little quicker than the rest. That does not make them evil, just smarter.

Farshad Kazemzadeh
Senior Software Engineer
(Not because of status, it just pays better!!)
[email protected]

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Monday
Nov 30, 1998

* Iranians not racist (part 2)

This is a response to Mr. Jafar Dehghan's response to my letter. You talked about Ferdowsi and his poems about Arabs, how Anooshiravan ordered the killing of Blacks in Yemen, your family's opposition to marriage with Blacks, and the boycotting a Bahai marriage.

The first three are all examples of bias against non-Iranians. How many more do you want me to show you? Ferdowsi has poems against Turanis; Iranians call Arabs everything you can imagine; Chinese are still a laugh; Fathali Shah called Russia a country of dogs, and the list goes on. Did I deny any of these? Did I say that we just don't know the meaning of racial differences? What I referred to was that Iranians don't have the same feelings, against a Kermani, or a Rashti, or any other Iranian.

A joke does not imply racial hatred. I am a notorious "Torki" joke teller, but actually the inventor of 99 percent of them is my full-blooded Tabrizi stepfather! Saying "Yaroo Lor-e Lor-e" does not mean hatred toward Lors. It might be stereotyping, but it's human nature.

About the Bahai marriage and "Armani najes" expression, these are not ethnic issues, but religious ones, and in a league of their own.

I am not blaming America for exporting this to our country; I named Christensen (Danish) Hertzfeld (German) and Braun (English). If anybody is to blame, it is us! We are the ones who listen to and follow the useless things they tell us.

We have a whole lot of problems, all of them deserving a book in their honor! But what we don't have is a racial problem toward fellow Iranians. None of us want a collection of small states instead of a greater Iran.

Khodadad Rezakhani
[email protected]

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