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Opinion

NOVEMBER 2005
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POLITICS
Setiz va modaaraa

Book: Understanding and opposing the Islamic Republic
Ramin Kamran

COMEDY
Bittersweet

I laughed and laughed until I reached a point where all I wanted to do was cry
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

Last Saturday, a good friend invited us to attend the performance of Hadi Khorsandi. Those who had seen his other programs said he was at his best and I laughed as hard as anyone in that packed auditorium. However, for the first time, I left a comedy with a deep melancholy. How ironic that, of all the Iranian programs, I would choose this one simply for the fact that it promised an amusing, happy evening. Having enjoyed Khorsandi’s humor in the past, the sad feeling his words left me with surprised even me.

IDEAS
Nothing short of idolatry

Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a neo-Islamist who cross-fertilized Third-Worldist rants on Nativism and Imperialism with Heidegger's rage against Machinism
Kia Atri

On any reflective reading of Jalal Al-e-Ahmad it would actually be hard not to in some way hold him responsible for the calamity of 79. I would personally hold him and Shariati as the two arch demons who through their unenlightened teachings sullied the minds of a whole generation of people. My trouble with him, and as I will argue below, is that his bequest to posterity is nothing short of idolatry. I am certain he would not have seen it in these terms and I am even more certain that this was not his original intention. Idolatrous though he most certainly was or rather his way of thought was idolatrous-like.

LEFT
Chapiye saabegh

Observations of a former leftist
Rama Fayaz

LANGUAGE
Stretching it

Giving thanks to the "kesh"
Guive Mirfendereski

In Persian, kesh is a simple word and yet without it a huge part of Farsi will shut down. Okay, may be that is stretching it a bit too far. To comprehend its ubiquity however requires no great stretch of either imagination or research. It is everywhere in one’s daily speech. In a most ordinary sense, the word means a rubber band or elastic. When I unfold the newspaper every morning or unbundle the mail every afternoon, I do so by removing the kesh that surrounds it. When I kesh-o-qos, I stretch and arch myself as if afflicted with a spell of yawn or ennui, restlessness, really.

IDEAS
Arid thoughts

To beat the desert and grow a garden that is aesthetically pleasing there is a fundamental cycle, which is also observed in human affairs
Iqbal Latif

Considering my considerably limited knowledge about botany, plants or gardens and or even life-cycle I still think it's an apt analogy for Islam. The garden is the Islamic world whereas its collective health, opinions and state of mind is personified by its gardener. In the century past, perhaps dating back to the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and the stimulus of Western ideas on the Muslim consciousness, there has been a period of fertilisation. Blogosphere argues that there is no debate in the Islamic world I would beg to disagree. The great issues of the day have been analysed, talked about and thoroughly discussed, indeed Muslims rank amongst the politically engaged people in the world (in Middle Eastern cafes or Cairo dinners the discussion will inevitably drift to politics) and are keenly aware of the political events.

NOTES
Where credit is due

From Ahmadinejad to breast cancer
Hamid Boroumand

You have got to give it to the man (credit that is), Ahmadinejad's campaign against corruption is creating screams of pain (much to my delight) from corners in Iran who long considered themselves immune from both investigation and prosecution for ill-gotten loot and thievery. I would not be surprised if some of the more powerful/influential elements within these gang of theives made an attempt on Ahmadinejad's life to relieve the immense pressure and scrutiny focused on them. And in the same spirit: yes, my offer to safeguard/invest Iran's oil-windfall (to pre-empt having a handful of crooks and thieves do the same) remains on the table.

IDEAS
Rejecting all

Rejecting the Islamic Republic of Iran in its entirety
Jahanshah Rashidian

The Islamic Republic of Iran, including all its relics of faction is the same wine in different bottles; it is not worth to change the bottle or the faction, because in contrast to this complaisant proposal it is in all its development the same wine, made of the same material. In fact in the course of the last century, the bottle has been renewed by Islamic political movements, new form of Islam arose, one that now has alleged legitimate appeal for power.

OBSERVATIONS
Subtle differences

... between Iranians and Ameircans
Nahid Rachlin

With the concept of happiness for all goes the idea of privacy. In Iran it seems strange if someone wants to be alone or live alone. That concept of privacy in the U.S. and togetherness in Iran also lead to the issue of loneliness. America seems like a lonely place to Iranians who come here, particularly the older ones. When my aunt was visiting my mother who was living in Ohio, to be near one of my brothers, she always complained about how quiet and lonely America was. No one walked on the streets, everyone was locked inside of cars, unreachable. People didn’t drop in all day long for a friendly talk, everyone was so busy working. She cut her trip short because being in Ohio, even with her sister, was unbearably lonely.

NUCLEAR
An unnecessary crisis

Iranian government's position
in the nuclear standoff

In a region already suffering from upheaval and uncertainty, a crisis is being manufactured in which there will be no winners. Worse yet, the hysteria about the dangers of an alleged Iran nuclear weapon program rest solely and intentionally on misperceptions and outright lies. In the avalanche of anti-Iran media commentaries, conspicuously absent is any reference to important facts, coupled with a twisted representation of the developments over the past 25 years. Before the international community is lead to another “crisis of choice”, it is imperative that the public knows all the facts and is empowered to make an informed and sober decision about an impending catastrophe.

IDEAS
Friendly fire

A letter to Azar Nafisi, author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran"
Brian Appleton

I have always bought your premise that imagination is the salvation of humanity and that artistic creativity saves us when all of the rest of our humanity is stripped from us. The part about empathy was the same message the Dalai Lama delivered to scientists at Stanford U last month and also your comments about no amount of PC being able to replace empathy. The tools of the totalitarian regimes are always the same as Laurens Van Der Post and Michael Parenti have each written about in their own way. The propaganda of demonizing the enemy by making an entire people nameless and faceless and devoid of human qualities the easier to bomb them and take their resources and destroy their culture...

INTELLECTUAL
Naghdchehee bar Ale Ahmad

A critique of Jalal Ale Ahmad
Shahriar Zahedi

LANGUAGE
Farewell, Dehkhoda!

A few days ago, I repacked the 50-volume collection into my car and drove it to Sabatico’s house. Letting go was hard to do...
Guive Mirfendereski

One summer morning we drove to the customs clearance office on the wharf and began loading the crates into my hatchback. Among them, a few boxes were particularly heavy and upon examination I learned that they comprised a 50-volume collection known as the Loghat-Nameh, the encyclopaedia of the Farsi language. It was begun by Ali Akbar Dehkhoda and finished years later by a cast of notable Iranian literati, lexicologists and linguists. As parts of the Loghat-Nameh were being printed and published in fascicles, Sabatico’s father had them bound into volumes. The result was a magnificent and ornate series. As Sabatico’s one-bed room rental apartment at the time was too tight for the new cargo from Europe, he had rented a storage space in town. I shuddered at the thought of the Loghat-Nameh ending up in that damp and dark environment. So, I offered to house the tomes at my house until Sabatico could find a more suitable space for them.

IDEAS
Disband or change

Islamic society of Rutgers University does disservice to Muslim community
Maziar Shirazi

Everyone in the U.S., at least on paper, is entitled to their own worldview, as long as it does not impinge upon the guaranteed freedoms of others. Thus, the recently elected Asher Hussain and his colleagues, of the Islamic Society of Rutgers University (ISRU), have the right to view Islam the way they do, regardless of the fact that many feel their views are hostile to women as well as Muslims of Shi'a and Sufi persuasion. However, with the fraudulent election of Hussain and his ideological counterparts to the governing board, the majority of Muslim students at Rutgers University may find the atmosphere at ISRU becoming disturbingly intolerant, more so than it has already been. I have only been to one ISRU meeting (the 2005 officer election); suffice to say, however, that the observations I took from that meeting were motivation enough for me to speak out about them.

DEBATE
Ideological tyranny in Iranian women’s studies

A response to Shahrzad Mojab
Golbarg Bashi

Feminist research or women’s studies is a methodological perspective that criticises societal inequalities, with an emphasis on gender disparities. As a secular feminist I initiated a re-debate over the crisis in Iranian women’s studies/activism (intertwined) so that our scholarship and activism embraces more lives inside Iran. I did not in any way offer a fixed agenda for achieving a gender-equal state in Iran. As someone who has spent most of her life outside Iran, it perplexes me still that some senior Iranian intellectuals deconstruct one’s arguments as if it was a clear-cut programme to overthrow a whole government and create a revolution.

IDEAS
The sacred

The tendency to reach decisions without considering the facts and interests of people
Jahanshah Rashidian

Sacred is a holy person, animal, object, or idea, whose rationality and originality cannot be proved. Therefore religions, sects, cults, and even dictatorial systems abundantly use the concept of sacred to compensate for their irrationality. From this point of view, the concept has root in very primitive human behaviours. It has been a justification of many acts, ideas, and relations whose rationality could not be explained, and people were not aware and did not feel free to ask.

POLITICS
Hokoomate eslami: Moazzal va raahe hal

On Ramin Kamran's book "Setiz va Modaaraaa"
Hassan Behgar

IRI
We know: he's a maniac

The people of Iran are quite aware of their predicament
Samira Mohyeddin

Heads of state and foreign ministries were all making reference to Iran's nuclear ambitions in the same breath as Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, the fear and paranoia of a nuclear-equipped Iran swept through the front pages of the world press, with Britain's Daily Express newspaper, running with the cover "MANIAC PLOTS WORLD WAR III." The Islamic Republic of Iran has been calling for the obliteration of the Israeli state since its inception twenty-six years ago. So what's all the clamoring about? The Iranian president's comments, however reprehensible, do not signify a major shift in Iranian policy towards Israel, and should not be portrayed as a break or departure from the ideology of the government.

POLITICS
Pas az yekdast shodan

After Ahmadinejad, what now?
Madjid Zarbakhch

NUCLEAR
Bohraani keh dar raah ast

Ahmadinejad is dangerous -- even to the Islamic Republic itself
Ramin Kamran

RIGHTS
Leaders not martyrs

Why we should care about Akbar Ganji
Nema Milaninia

It has been four months since Ganji stopped his hunger strike. In those four months, there have been numerous reports indicating that Ganji is continuously being tortured. Nevertheless, the world's elite and intellectuals continue to remain passive on his release and the release of other political prisoners. In fact, America's major newspapers contain little to nothing about Ganji's plight, but play day-to-day predictions on Iran's nuclear activities. Like Ganji, hundreds of writers and journalists have been detained in Iran's prisons for their political writings. Cooperation with the Iranian government and rapprochement should not be conditioned on Iran's nuclear and terrorism record. It should begin once the Iranian government begins taking sincere steps to promote and protect human rights for all its citizens.

LANGUAGE
Persian plus

Persian plus all those other wonderful Persian words that enrich it
Guive Mirfendereski

A few weeks back my hometown newspaper reported a story by the Associated Press that King Tutankhamen was a red wine drinker. In the same story one Patrick McGovern, an American molecular archeologist, was cited as saying that he has discovered grape residue in northern Iran that dates winemaking to 5400 BC. I do not know what the ancient Iranians inhabiting the north of the country may have called this elixir. If they called it by the Persian may is mostly irrelevant because in today’s Farsi the commonly known word for the term is sharab, a word from the Arabic root sharb, to drink. I am writing today, however, to make the case for Farsi, our national language, being a sort of Persian plus – Persian plus all those other wonderful Persian words that enrich it.

OPINION
Dividing Iran

Israel’s response to Ahmadinejad
Jalil Bahar

Since invading Iran is not an option any more (after America’s debacle in Iraq), perhaps the next best strategy is to get Iran’s ethnic groups to fight the battle for them. Several, simultaneous ‘battles for liberation’ from different directions (Kurdistan, Baluchestan, Azerbaijan, etc) would topple Iran’s central government, and create a number of weak client states which would pose no threat to anyone. If you think this is a remote possibility, think again. All the seeds have been planted to implement this strategy.

FRANCE
The Republic vs. religion

If France is facing tremors in its urban structure it is precisely because its inherent secular Republican values were not adhered to
Kia Atri

At the time of writing this article Paris and many other cities brace themselves for a thirteenth night of violence (even as Dominique de Villepin was doing his 'I have heard the voice of your revolution' special) there is a certain issue that is being overlooked or rather carelessly treated. The issue of secularity must not be sacrificed at the alter of political expediency. The sounds are mixed and there is some evidence that the French might succumb to that pressure to affect some accommodation. This as I argue below will be disastrous for all concerned.

FRANCE
Rage without a cause

A policy of appeasement will not ensure peaceful co-habitation in Europe's multi-ethnic cosmopolitan community
Iqbal Latif

The French have so far said the right things, and done the right things. They have stood up to "American Imperialism tooth and nail" beyond the call of duty, for them war in Iraq has created more intolerance and frustration within European community immigrants, undoubtedly "one nation" these North African immigrants should really be grateful too is "France." But militants have no friends, the weakest link and most opportune one for them is the one that is going to give in. Paris sounds to them the weakest link; it is where they have made their first stand. It is in this city we should nail them down, let's say a loud 'no' to their medieval practices.

FRANCE
Lord of the flies

I wonder if this connection can be linked to the recent events in France
Tala Dowlatshahi

Riots have taken place all over France since the incident and over 1,200 vehicles have been torched. On Sunday evening, a sixty-one year old man attempting to protect his car from being set ablaze was killed by youths who beat him to death.  This current state of unrest has been compared to the worst in France since World War II. William Golding's thought-provoking novel Lord of the Flies written in 1954, describes in detail the horrific exploits of a group of youth who turn from upwardly civilized to downright barbaric. The underscoring theme being that man is inherently tied to society, and without it, we would all become savages. I wonder if this connection can be linked to the recent events in France.

ANALYSIS
The Vietnam model

Ahmadinejad's remarks help cement the alliance with radicals in the Islamic world who in time of war would mobilize and attack the U.S., Israel, as well as any government that sided with the U.S.
Masoud Kazemzadeh

Unlike the Supreme Leader and many in the hard-line camp, it appears that Ahmadinejad and Young Conservatives wish to follow the "Vietnam model." Some believe that the U.S. is on the verge of collapse similar to what occurred in the former Soviet Union. Many of them believe that the U.S. is overstretched in Afghanistan, and Iraq and in a stand-off in the Korean peninsula and thus unable to impose its wish on the fundamentalist regime. However, America's weakness may not last another year or two. Considering the above factors, it is to the advantage of the regime to confront the U.S. and the West at the time of its weakest rather than wait until they solve their problems and regain strength and choose the time at which to put pressure on the regime.

OPINION
(Hard) reality check

Iranian people will regrettably be FORCED to see the importance of regime change exactly as they were FORCED into realising that Economic Globalisation
Kia Atri

I am sure you have all heard the phrase 'Useful Idiots' rightly or wrongly attributed to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (a.k.a. Lenin). The phrase is used to describe the naïve souls in the Capitalist West who- though decent people- are by and large the best spokesmen for Soviet misinformation in the West. The misinformation which chooses to turn a blind eye to the otherwise suspicious quarantining of a whole nation on promise of an unattainable and idealistic utopia. Which utopia is rich in intellectual justification with elaborate theories but weak in putting bread on the table of its inmates known as Soviet citizenry. Which misery they (the U.I.) will be loathed to understand for fear and hatred that they have of the Liberal Democracies they live in.

POLITICS
Our worst

Ahmadinejad and Bush
Manesh

The two men could not be more different in almost all respects. But they do have a thing or two in common. For example, they both represent the worst of their country's nature. Under President Bush, America has become known as an international bully, a nation engaged in torture and humiliation, a friend of the powerful, and an enemy of the weak- hardly the stuff America was founded on, and has been known around the world for. We can wonder the same way about the people who elected Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This man is completely un-Iranian. The policies he stands for, and the underlying values they represent, are foreign to Iran and Iranians.

OPINION
Deliberate mistake?

Why did Iran's president demand that Israel be "wiped off the map"?
Yassamine Mather

One explanation of Ahmadinejad's comments is that, following its victory of seeing a Shia state established in Iraq (the main component of the occupation government being pro-Iran Shias), the Iranian regime's image is tainted by its support for the US-UK-imposed government in Iraq. As the only country that has directly benefited from imperialist military action in the region, Iran does feel isolated. That is why, in the words of a Palestinian official, the Iranian president's comments reflect Iran's weakness in the region, and represents an attempt to regain some credibility as an anti-Zionist, anti-US regime.

CHANGE
13 Aban dar 11 Aban

The children of the revolution have changed
Amir Azar

HEALTH
Negligence is not an option

Time for preventive mobilization on bird flu
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

I am not a medical doctor, but several of my cousins who are uniformly tell me that we must take this one seriously, but are we? In the US, compared to Europe or Canada, so far only one percent of the population are pre-covered with medication and vaccine, if there is any against this deadly, catastrophic would-be plague, and in Iran? Scanning through the Tehran dailies, I fail to see a national strategy on how to deal with the global pandemic if, god forbid, it breaks out soon. It is not enough to order a halt in hunting migratory birds and so on, or to stockpile medicine, a lot more is needed, and very urgently, following the footsteps of other governments.

ANALYSIS
Old policy, new fears

Ahmadinejad's comments about Israel are nothing new. But the international outrage reflects concerns about where Iran's nucler program may be heading.
Masoud Kazemzadeh

In this article, I present evidence which proves that the dominant explanation is false. I show that Ahmadinejad's words are the expression of the actual consensus of the ruling faction of the regime. In other words, Ahmadinejad's words are not the mere utterance of one inexperienced person. Rather, Ahmadinejad expressed the views of the Young Conservative sub-faction and the consensus of the hard-line faction which control virtually all the main levers of power in Iran. This is not mere academic exercise. If the dominant explanation is correct, one may not be too concerned about the off-the-cuff remarks of one man. However, if my analysis is correct, we should expect a more confrontational foreign policy by the regime.

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