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    February 1999

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


* Revolution:
- Get off your butt
* Smell:
- Ruined my life
- Trash
* Bahai:
- Suspicions confirmed
* Iraj Mirza:
- Shock therapy
- It's rape
* Reza Shah:
- Excellent book

Letters section index
Previous letters sent to The Iranian

February 26, 1999

* Excellent book

Thank you for your timely excerpt of this excellent book ["Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah"] which covers a crucial, yet hitherto neglected, period in Iran's 20th. century history. The pre-packed "review" by Amazon Books is less inpressive and completely misses the main thrust of the subject.

K. Bozorgmehr

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February 25, 1999

* Ruined my life

You sir have ruined my life. I had lived happily in this country for many years until I read your viciously perceptive article ["Waht's that smell?"]. Having blessed with a hypersensitive nose like you, I had also been vaguely aware of some strange odor, but never associated it with anything in particular.

Since I read your article I have become paralyzed: I am constantly aware of "that smell"; I am unable to interact with people; crowded rooms and elevators are worse than hell; sex has completely lost its meaning; and I spend most of my time away from people. The knowledge you gave me has taken away my blissful ignorance. I wish I had never read your article.

Hossein Samiei

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* Trash

Why are you publishing this trash ["Waht's that smell?"]? What a waster of web space. Most people I know had no problems mastering the art of wiping themselves with toilet paper.

Afshin David Youssefyeh

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February 24, 1999

* Suspicions confirmed

I am not an Iranian, but I am a Baha'i and I am always concerned for my brothers and sisters in faith that live there. Thus I find it quite refreshing and inspiring that your magazine is willing to publish the recent articles on the Baha'i Faith. Thank you. It goes to show that Iranians are the good people I've always suspected them to be.

Stephen A. Fuqua

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February 23, 1999

* Shock therapy

Iraj Mirza was one of very few people in Iran (even to this day) who could see beyond the dark shadow of beliefs that had been forced upon our people for generations. He's talking about "ignorance", he's asking people to resist temptations with an open mind and not for fear. He even tried to shock people with his use of explicit words, to disclose one of the most degrading symbols of ignorance in his society.

I have to admit, even though I had read this poem 20 years ago in Iran, seeing the words written in farsi on my monitor still shocked me, but how can you not see beyond that? How can you not keep on reading?

I'm sorry for the people who read this poem and didn't feel respect for such a great mind. His, was the voice of reason. Not many brave souls (even in a country known for its heroes) ever came out and made their points the way Iraj Mirza did in this humorous / controversial work.

Mojgan Namvar

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* It's rape

Poets and good writers have always been ahead of members of their society and in this case, Iraj Mirza might have opened some eyes. But I am sure it has not be very effective. His poem is very old to me and I personally have not met any woman with the mentality he describes.

Today after I read this poem, although I agreed and admire his points, I did not like his presentation. I think he must have been one of those men who abused women's character by creating a fictional situation and sell his explicit language.

I am more comfortable to take it as a piece of satire, obviously exagerated, to reveal the extreme abuse of women's rights and character in a corupt male-dominated society. These men plant kharzahreh and expect roses.

Whatever the writer's purpose was, even if 10% represented reality, I have to say that was the description of rape. It was rape and nothing else.


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February 22, 1999

* Get off your butt

Iranians talk of democracy as if it is some sort of state of bliss or Nirvana which may one day be achieved [1979 survey]. This is a misunderstanding of democracy. It also portrays an Iranian characteristic of sitting around complaining and bickering while waiting for someone or something to come along and save us from ourselves and our problems, whether it is "another revolution" that some people have been promising each other for 20 years, or another Shah, or Khatami, or the much anticipated "rapprochement" with the U.S.

Democracy is marked by strife and squable and power-plays and intrigue and jostling - much like things are now, it is not a state of peaceful bliss, and it doesn't improve on its own. Iranians would do better to stop waiting for the perfect regime to be handed to us on a platter, and stop arguing over the past and the "what if's" - instead get up and make the necessary sacrifices and put in the effort and the time to do something constructive.

Put your money where your mouth is, go back to Iran, deal with the daily frustrations, teach a course, invest some money, build a road, translate a textbook, write a computer program, take responsibility - that is how things get done. Whining, bickering, self-pity, nostalgia, trading 20-year old jokes, and a longing for American validation or another revolution to come along while sitting in L.A.- they don't help anything or anyone.

C. Safdari

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February 19, 1999

* Politicized masses

The Iranian revolution had one positive outcome -- it politicized the masses [1979 survey]. And this will prove be an incredibly important factor in the future of Iran. It can be noticed a lot with Iranians in Iran, especially the children of the revolution. They are sharp and tough as hell. The revolution killed our naivety and this will prove to be a positive fact in the future.

Although the revolution took a wrong turn, or was hijacked in the last minute (depending on how you look at it), it still was a "people's" uprising and that is very important. It shook a nation. It made many generations and social classes question the state.

Nargess Shahmanesh

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* People deserve what they asked for

Iranians in Iran deserve everything they asked for [1979 survey]. They were stupid enough to think that anything Islamic would be the solution or that a democracy would somehow form. Religion and politics don't mix, that's true, but this should have been realized 20 years ago!!!! What were Iranians thinking?! Not with their brains of course! ... FULL TEXT


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February 18, 1999

* I still remember

Thanks very much for your beautiful photos [Tehran: Too sweet to be true]. Your photos took me to my childhood. I enjoyed reading you experience in Tehran. I had similar experiences. I grew up in Tehran and have been in U.S. for more than 25 years. I still remember sleeping on the roof, watching the twinkling stars and listening to the music coming from far distance in hot summer nights. But I am not old enough to remember camels walking in the streets. Your photos have the smell of those days. I like to thank you again for sharing your photos.

Dr. Hamid Razi

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February 17, 1999

* Seeing Abadan once again

Thank you for Mr. Hamid Arjomand's pictures of Abadan. They took me back to over 25 years ago when I used to live there. Seeing the streets of Braim once again, I could still feel the hot sun on my back, the smell of "sharji" in my nostriles, and the deafening silence and stillness of a summer afternoon in my ears.

I could once again feel the boredom and anticipation as we waited for the grown ups to wake up from their "chorts" to take us to Segoosh swimming pool, just as my kids do today. It was a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Sam K. Tahmassebi
La Jolla, California

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February 16, 1999

* Went too far

I never thought that I would ever be writing a letter of complaint to my absolute favorite website. However, I feel that you simply went too far when you used the word "bimbo" to describe the Iranian model Angylina.

I am not sure to what extent you were joking, or if you were serious. Nevertheless, you should realize that such snide commenting is not only unneccesary, but at the same time childish. I hate to break it to you that not all Iranians can grow up to be BMW driving doctors and lawyers from west LA or Irvine California. I believe that ALL Iranians need to lend a hand to ALL of their fellow people. To put it succinctly, our community needs as much unity as possible.

Besides, how could you not like someone who is helping to change the way most Americans view beauty (blond hair, blue eyes, etc...)? Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, and Anna Nicole Smith.......move over! ;-)

Mehrdad Modjtahedi

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* Hypocrytical

I have to admit it is indeed quite hypocritical to name people when in fact one has probably searched their way into a site [Angylina], have viewed a fair amount of it and probably even enjoyed it.

I neither condone nor endorse her sight, but I believe that such name-callings do not go in line with the good natured, and often thought-provoking Iranian website and magazine.

Reza Khalili

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February 15, 1999

* Farsi-speaking tourist

Very funny, sad, and true ["Traffic immitating life"]. The best way of transport in Iran for people visiting is public transportation. If you wish to be a big spender you may raise your hand. Most cab drivers in Tehran understand you are a visitor and stop by you. You can jump in and give the address. It has been my experience you can get anywhere but the airport by offereing about 600 tomans. Iran is a great place to visit but you have to be patient. Remember you are just a tourist who can speak Farsi.


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February 12, 1999

* Like bungee jumping

The article "Traffic immitating life" brought back memories of my trip to Iran in 1995 (I am American, BTW). The traffic was one of the most frightening things in Tehran (besides the pollution). Seeing no stoplights and crosswalks, for all practical purposes, I couldn't at first contemplate how to get through the mess of cars. Eventually I learned that a pedestrian simply has to start walking and entrust their life to Allah. Waiting on the curb is futile; the traffic never ceases and you only end up attracting taxi cabs.

There is a certain exhilaration about the traffic though, either as a pedestrian or a passenger, probably not too different than that experienced by bungee jumpers or sky divers (hmmm.... I wonder if anyone has thought about arranging travel packages to Tehran for thrill seekers?).

Brad Hernlem
Personal web site

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* Ruling elite not homogenious

The ruling elite of Iran is not homogenious and many people in the high echelons of power have personal gain in mind rather than the good of the nation . Mr. Khatami's govenment has many opposing factions and groups to contend with . One wishes for their survival at this stage. The serious business of putting the economy right will take a lot more as it will tend to destroy the power of the few at the top who will not give up their lot without fight .

Dr. Ali Akbar Mahdi 's book (Farhang-e Irani, J'ame'eh-ye Madani, va Daghdaghe-ye Demokr'asi )which has been posted on The Iranian deals with all these problems in detail as a book on sociology should do and it is in so simple a language that one must recommend it to all frustrated Iranians.

Finally democracy which has been shown to be a major requirement for social and economical development can not be obtained unless a large group of people in position of power relinquish their position of authocratic power and they would only do so if they are threatened . e.g by popular opinion inside and outside the country, strikes etc. South Africa is an example and the Iranian govenment is no better or worse.


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February 11, 1999

* Church and state don't mix

What you said [about an Islamic republic and democracy] is perhaps one of the most ignorant and contradictary things I have heard in my lifetime. Democracy is based on the concept of equality and freedom, freedom of religon, speech, press etc. None of these freedoms exist in Iran's government. Forcing everyone to go by the laws of Islam is religious dictatorship. As an atheist, I have nothing against Islam or any other religon, or anyone practicing it, as long as they don't impose it on others.

In every religon, there are ideas that are disagreeable and sometimes backward, and Islam is not an exception. This theocracy has made Iran enemies, oppressed the people of Iran, and made Iran a third world country, all as the price of what? Following a religon that not everyone in Iran practices or takes seriously? On top of everything, it is only logical that church and state should not merge. They are two totally different things...

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February 10, 1999

* Practicing civility

Dear Ms Khalili,

[Regarding your article. "Jonoobe shahr"] the irony of our land is in its dichotomy, on one hand we are kind, caring and humane to the point of a fault; on the other hand, we are uncaring, crude and vicious. I for one hold the belief that we can call ourselves a civilized society when we can observe a simple act such as passage of cars in order of their priority, upon arrival at an unmarked and unguided traffic intersection. Would the first car there at that intersection, be the first through? Or would it be the most skilled and aggressive driver that goes first? Would two vehicles arriving simultaneously go head to head as whom will cross first, or that which is to the right hand side of the next, go first, followed by that vehicle which was to the left?

We can make ourselves prosperous, we can organize for a purpose and achieve it, but the welfare of the individual citizen proportionately increases not by wealth or prosperity, but with administration and practice of a civilized mode of behavior that would supplant all other rules of interaction within the society. As such, one wonders if we will ever achieve our dream of a truly progressive nation?

Good article!


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* Islamic Republic of...

I fully agree with Mr. Shakeri that an "Islamic Republic" is a "democratic republic" as long as the two words "of Iran" is not added to the end of it.

Sepehr Sohab

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February 9, 1999

* More power to her

It is not nice or appropriate to call other Iranians names just because we might not agree with what they do. Angylina is a beautiful Iranian girl who like the majority of Iraninan girls (at least abroad) likes to model. But unlike the others, not only she has the guts (and the assets!) to do it but also announces that she is from Iran. I say more power to her.

Kourosh Ahadpour

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* Soupy

Dear Goddess Angylina,

I am as impressed by your letter and your threat to sue The Iranian. I'm very proud to have been born in the same country as a young, intelligent, beautiful, kind girl like you. If this thing was a trick to get more visitors for your adult page, I have to congratulate you, you did it. If it was not, then I have a few questions if you don't mind:

- What kind of soup to you serve to the homeless?
- How much do you charge for the soup?
- What have all those "men" done to you?
- Is your father Iranian and your mother German by any chance?

Looking forward to hearing from your attorney.


dAyi Hamid

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February 8, 1999

* Mixed feelings

Obviously we Iranians still have mixed feelings about the revolution ["1979 survey"]: how can a majority believe that "that peaceful and gradual change is better in the long-run," and still be of the opinion that "revolutions are good if they have good leaders"? Aren't revolutions by definition abrupt, and often non-peaceful? (Also see Angylina's letter)

Behzad Fazel

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* Islam & democracy

[Regarding the 1979 survey:]

If you guys knew anything about Islam, then you would realize that an Islamic Republic is very democratic and carries all the virtues of a "democratic republic." (Also see Angylina's letter)

Sohail Shakeri

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February 5, 1999

* Census: Good for all of us

A few weeks ago I received a card in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau advertising part & full time jobs. I have been thinking about the same things David Rahni mentions in his letter ["Iranians in 2000 US census"]. I believe we have to think about the following issues:

- The first step in becoming an official minority group in this county (& being able to benefit from some of the government's special minority programs) is to show noticeable numbers in our population through census 2000.

- There are assurances that information provided to the census would not be supplied to the IRS, Immigration, FBI,...(although I am not so sure!)

- If the population of Iranians in the census shows a significant number, national advertisers would notice and spend money not only on Iranian media but also on related businesses and services.

- A good size Iranian community will attract the attention of the politicians, and thus it gives us advantages to ask them for something in return, such as more relaxed immigration laws, or putting a stop to unfair behavior towards our parents at the airports when entering the U.S., etc..

I agree with Mr. Rahni that this should be the top agenda for all Iranian groups in the U.S. (regardless of their religious, political, social, or cultural affiliation), because the result would benefit us all.

There should be a center (or better a web page) dedicated to this cause where everyone could find information, solutions or ideas.

Masoud Modarres

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* Call her what you want

Boy, I was blue this morning until I found my way to Angylina's site. She's got a great body. I don't care what you call her. (Also see Angylina's letter)

Behzad Fazel

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February 4, 1999

* I also serve soup to the poor

First off, you have no right to call me bimbo. You don't know me, what kind of education I have, or why I do what I do. I don't think you have authorization to use that picture either! It states on my page that those pictures are copywrited. I suggest you take it and the story off your site now before you are sued by myself and the photographer.

I work hard to achieve the goals I have. All my life I have been harrassed by men like you who have sat on your throne and throw stones at people all while your living in a glass home. You're the same "men" who cheat on your wives, make as much money as you can to drive "Mercedes Benz" while people are starving. At least I take the time and lend my time to homeless shelters on the soupline and money to animal adoption services. I live a modest life. I drive no fancy car. I live in a 900-sq foot rental home and am greatful for the life I am blessed.

Just because someone looks good and takes care of their body and isn't afraid to show it off doesn't mean that they did anything to get it. I have NOT compromised myself to get where I am at. I've done this all on my own, without relying on anyone for help. I'm not afraid to show off my body and model.

Now, I am warning you to retract that article and remove the picture or my attourney will contact you within 24 hrs. And you cannot print, show, or put this letter on your page either.


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February 3, 1999

* More oil, less prosperity

[Regarding "Pretend we have no oil"], with the exception of one field in the Persian Gulf, where the reservoir straddles across sovereign borders between Iran and one of the UAE emirates, there is no other reservoir even close to other countries' jurisdictions. In the Caspian Sea we may, in future, also run across a possible similar scenario. Neither case is too significant and you can always make some kind of arrangements, whereby one or the other country becomes the operator, and they share the revenues under some well-tried-out formulae. In the case of the Persian Gulf field, proper protections are in place already.

Mr. Mirfendreski's article while interesting and thoughtful philosophically, on purely economic terms, has shortcomings. Considering the competitions from other sources of energy, whose costs have been steadily decreasing vs. the increasing trend of exploration and production cost for oil, the present value of a barrel of oil, say 10 years from now, is really very little. Reliance on the revenues of oil, however, is bad no matter what the price, today or tomorrow.

Worldwide a principle seems to hold true, that places rich in non-renewable natural resources, tend to have lower standards of living. The overseas examples are many and well known. Even in the United States, this principle seems true. States like New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma ... with abundant natural resources fall short of states like Massachusetts, New York ... with negligible or no natural resources.

Hashem Farhang

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* Pump it or lose it

To respond to the question about leaving oil in the ground ["Pretend we have no oil"], most Iranian reserves are shared. Masjed-e-Soleiman is shared with Iraq's Northern wells. And there were reports (rumors?) back in the Shah/Cold War era that Semnan oil fields somehow tapped into the Soviet Caspian Sea reserves, which explained why Iran and the Soviet Union had a few production sharing agreements. Unfortunately if your neighbors are pumping, it's a "pump it or lose it" situation.

Ramin Abhari

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February 2, 1999

* Wonderful collection... for kids

Thank you very much for the wonderful collection of pics and songs ["Revolution: 1979-1999"]. Please keep it on line so my kids get educated about what has gone into this revolution.


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* Adoption?

Do you know where I can get info on adopting a child from Iran?

Niloo Soleimani

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February 1, 1999

* Getting down to serious business

I enjoyed your article ["Laleh Khalili's "A first concert"] as an informative report on a special segment of Iranian youth. As an Iranian-American who has been away from Iran for over twenty years, and all at the same time, very much interested in the fate of my countrywomen and men, I would like to thank you for taking the time to eloquently describe an evening of a special occasion in Tehran.

I was not surprised to read how Iranian youth are so thirsty for anything Western, and specially American. The confines of the regime in Iran are only fooling themselves, if they think, by any means, they are preventing the new generation from the harms and decadence of Western culture by imposing unreasonable restrictions on them. The forbidden fruit only looks to be more desirable or so it seems to the vulnerable and impressionable young!

The present regime in Iran should and will have to, in order to survive, concentrate its energy and effort on the more imminently viable issues: like how to rescue the economy and mend the ever increasing gap of the bridge between the out-of-line hard-liners and the moderate so-called democrats. And that most definitely requires a whole lot of effort and energy! So I really do wish they would get down to some serious work.

Nasrin Sasanpour

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