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December 2006

So good at bullshitting
Behrouz Joon
December 31, 2006

Religion is a business whereby they sell you a product. . .describing its features in a language one cannot understand (usually Latin, Arabic, or Hebrew or just poorly written English in some cases). Then they charge you for the "product" now (with all sorts of fine print and restrictions that could give a contracts lawyer a hard-on), and promise delivery after death. . .and they can do all of this without even having a refund policy!

Hell if Nordstrom sold shoes like that it would be out of business in 2 days!

Now that's a true testament to the sales ability of theologians all over the world. In fact I think if Nordstrom hired some theologians in the Salon Shoes Department, Charles David boots would be flying out the door 50 at a time!

I mean look at Reza Aslan as a great example of a theologian turned political pundit (truly a great guy, aside from our differences on religion, his being nice I mean seriously).

One day he is sitting next to me in a class called "The Theology of Marriage" and he can barely speak five words of Persian/Farsi to me (let's not get our collective panties in a bunch on the Persian vs. Farsi argument)... and the next thing I know a few years later (who is counting but around ten) he's in Turkey (the country, not the bird that was on my Thanksgiving table) as an expert on the Middle East!

He's standing next to Anderson Cooper, commenting on Iran's nuclear policy... and exchanging notes with General Marks on American military strategy in Iraq on satellite!

Last I recall his book's title was basically "La Elaha El Allah" in English (that's a phrase you hear frequently when you ask for a price break on gojeh sabz from a street vendor in Tehran)!

How did he insert the bit on the NPT and military strategy into his religious studies major?!

They weren't teaching military strategy at Bannan Hall on the third floor where the Religious Studies Department was!! Military Strategy was way across the campus by the ROTC area!

Insofar as I know he doesn't even know what zoghal akhteh is, so how did he become an expert on Iran and its nuclear policies on Anderson Cooper and Bill Maher?

Theologians. . . they're so good at bullshitting -- even we lawyers look at them with awe (only because we thought we had the market monopolized)! Comment

Show business
December 31, 2006

As you probably know, Muslim women activists in Iran have initiated the Campaign for One Million Signatures demanding an end to discriminatory laws against women without questioning the Islamic legal foundation. We secular feminist activists in Iran are not signing this useless petition. We want to let you know that those who are part of this campaign are different Islamic or pseudo-Islamic groups that politically flirt with each other. They are a blend of fundamentalist and reformist Muslim women activists who are misleading the secular youth. We believe that they are confused and confusing and don’t know what they are doing.

Sometimes, these people appear to be more into show business than into women's movement, which is a political movement and not a charity or a cultural pass-time. Iranian women across the country are more intelligent and more aware than these Muslim activists who seem to be rather seeking fame. Women's rights can only be achieved within a democratic society. The struggle to eliminate all forms of discriminations against women is not separated from the struggle to overthrow the fascist government of Iran.

We do not trust the likes of Nayereh Tohidi, who live abroad and are part of the dead Islamic reformist movement. They do not question the Islamic State and mislead the women inside Iran from abroad by encouraging them to act within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unfortunately, our much beloved poet Simin Behbahani supports this campaign. She is mostly with secular feminists, but sometimes she goes with these Islamic activists because she doesn’t really know the whole story. The story is that most of these women campaigners are Muslim reformists and want to maintain an Islamic State.

Shirin Ebadi has proven to be completely inefficient (kheili too zard az aab dar aamadeh.) She only shows off here and there and collects money. As a founder of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran, now she even no longer goes to visit children to find out about them. Like Shahla Sherkat and other practicing Muslim women in Iran, she is very conservative and works within the system.

Here in Iran, we the secular women feminists are not allowed to gather in a public building or to declare the existence of our many organisations publicly. Just think about the fact that the Writers Association of Iran that is an independent institution is not even allowed to have a public gathering. So, khodat bekhaan hadis az in daastan. Comment

Justice or necessity?
Farshid Moussavi
December 30, 2006

Even though I am an Iranian who grew up with this guy's Qadessiyeh madness and witnessed the destruction of my generation at his and mullah's hands, I cannot say I am happy about this. Exactly for this reason : the way it was handled.

If this changes anything, it is certainly not for the better. His victims will never get their "day in court". All indications are that it was not even close to a fair trial by international standards.

First I thought he will go down in history as simply another mad tyrant bloodthirsty thug like Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot. But today, it is clear to me he will go down in history as something more: all of the above, *as well as* supported and enabled by other powers, and brought down by those same powers when he outlived his usefulness, IN A WAY WHICH HAD JUST AS MUCH DISREGARD FOR HIS PEOPLE/VICTIMS AS HE HIMSELF DID. Not unlike Noriega or even Bin Laden himself.

I can't help but think that one of the reasons he was so quickly executed was that had he been allowed to continue to stand trial and answer for his actions, he woud have implicated some who "were not supposed to be impicated". Note that the next trial was going to be the Anfal campaign against the Kurds, and therefore the chemical weapons issue. Guess who his accomplices were? And guess who would have felt very awkward if and when the Iran-Iraq war questions came up? This way is just so much "cleaner" I guess...

In short, this was not justice, it was anticlimactic and self serving. Comment

A great lesson
Kianosh Saadati
December 30, 2006

Regardless of whether the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein were justified or not, it should be a great lesson for other dictators and tyrannical regimes. Especially Iraq's neighbours should observe what might be waiting for them.

For people like Saddam and other dictators the only thing which matters is their own survival and being in power. But as history has testified, this is not going to work.

Rulers in Tehran had better open up their eyes and see the consequences of tyranny and crackdown on freedom and freedom seekers. They had better sit aside and think about the future of themselves. Is there any guarantee that the same fate which happened to Saddam will not apply to them?

Even though Saddam is finished and he has already joined history, the lessons we are learning from his rise and fall are numerous especially for dictators. However, I personally doubt they learn anything from it. They simply stand on their points, keep on killing and torturing their own people for just to be in power a few days, months or years more. But is it really worth it?

Maybe the moment Saddam was hanged for one second this question struck into his mind and he asked himself: was it really worth it? Was it really fair to end up in an execution chamber rather than being remembered as a legend in the Arab world?

As a general rule, dictators will not change until it is too late for them. The same thing happened to Saddam. Comment

Kurdish choices
Kamal Artin
December 28, 2006

To many Kurds, who value their true identity, Kurdistan resembles a mother that has been suppressed and taken advantage of by four influential men in the Middle East. In this age such a mother should be free to make a choice. In neither part of their ancestral homeland Kurds have been asked about their choices of status quo, federalism, or independence. By default the status quo has been imposed on them in the name of unity. Unity is a noble idea and should serve all equally.

Unfortunately the unity that the governments of dominant ethnic groups advocate has only served them. For this reason over 98% of the Kurdish population in Southern Kurdistan voted for independence in an unofficial referendum in 2004. Many individuals and organizations, that support equal right for all, believe the Kurds in all parts of their homeland should be allowed to determine their destiny and be given the option of voting for status quo, federalism, and independence in a referendum monitored by the international community.

In order to remind the United Nations about its obligation to defend the rights of all nations, including unrepresented ones such as the Kurds, a petition has been launched to vote on Kurdish choices. Moral support and signature of all individuals and organizations that believe in self determination rights is of great value. The collection of signatures will be continuous; however, the result of the initial phase will be discussed during the Kurdish New Year events (e.g. annual KNCNA conference in March 2007.

Please sign the petition and consider your vote as a contributing beam of light to gradually end the dark side of the Kurdish history beam by beam. Kurdish self determination right is not in contradiction to the rights of any other people but in support of them. If you can not disclose your identity and choice, please avoid signing the petition, since anonymous and undecided votes do not count. In your short comments, please respect the dignity of all including your opponents and treat others the way you like to be treated. To sign the petition please visit: or
The petition is sponsored by

Today, tomorrow and for all eternity
Farah Afshari
December 28, 2006

You walk beside life
Hand in hand with forgetful-ness
As if today, tomorrow and for all eternity
Sun will shine regardless
And I hate that bad news under your skin
Eating away your kindness
And I know one of these days
You will disappear in the distance
And I will wonder forever
Where you are

What is the point?
Nahal Rose Lalefar
December 26, 2006

Almost 5 years ago, I wrote a piece for ("Just Not Fair") regarding the imbalance of justice regarding victim compensation when it came to the US vs Iran. Unfortunately, based on the recent case ruling that Iran owes $254 million for the Khobar tower bombings, it seems as though little has changed over the years. Iran keeps getting sued by terror victims, but does anything meaningful ever come out of these lawsuits?

According to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Flatow Amendment of 1996, terror victims can sue foreign states that sponsor terrorism. Using this piece of legislation, many groups and individuals have successfully sued Iran in federal courts. The victims included those from the hostage crisis of 1979 and Beirut bombings of 1983.

Most recently, $254 million was awarded to families of the 19 Americans who were killed in the 1996 Khobar towers bombing on Saudi Arabia. US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that Iran financially supported Hezbollah who was responsible for the bombing and was therefore responsible for compensating victims of the terrorist act.

Iran rejected claims that it was involved with the attack, did not send an attorney, and did not even respond to the lawsuit. Interestingly, Judge Lamberth is the same individual who ruled in the late 90’s that Iran was responsible for the suicide bombing attack in Israel that took the life of an American college student, Alisa Flatow. He ordered Iran to pay $247 million in damages to the Flatow family.

Because Iran does not even fully acknowledge these lawsuits, it is not expected that the Iranian government would pay these victim compensations. Therefore, for years, these victims’ families have been seeking payment from Iran’s seized assets, particularly in foreign countries where the assets are more easily accessible than in the US.

I do not know if any of these victims have actually received compensation or not. However, I am unclear as to how federal legislation and rulings made in federal courts can be enforced internationally without the involvement of international courts and laws.

Furthermore, I do not believe that the message set forth by the Antiterrorism act has any significant meaning. It does not deter terrorism and if foreign states do not even acknowledge these lawsuits, it does not really bring justice to these families. In fact, the injustice will just continue to spread. The Iranian assets sought after by victims’ families, belong to the people of Iran who have nothing to do with sponsoring terrorism.

With rumblings that the UN will impose sanctions against Iran and that the US may take some sort of military action against Iran, there are clearly bigger issues facing Iranian government than terror victim compensations. However, by trying to punish the Iranian government, it is the impoverished millions of Iranians, already ignored by the government, who ultimately suffer. Comment

Kaarhaayeh aghab oftaadeh
Layla Khamoushian
December 26, 2006

She said you need to take care of them, every single one of them, because if you don't, they sit there in the corner of your mind forever, watching, nagging, shaking their legs in boredom sometimes, crying like babies at other times... take care of the unfinished business --it's actually a mental health issue.

She said it has taken her two years after her mom passed away but she is alomst done... with her kaarhaayeh aghab oftaadeh. It helps her heal, it helps her move on.

The smallest things count... even sewing a button on that old blue shirt, throwing away an old shoe box, and for me, finishing the Kite Runner from last year (since I just couldn't put up with all the tragedies of that book at that time in my life), and I have about three or four other books that I half-read... they have been sitting in the corner of my brain.

And yes of course, I need to finish knitting his scarf now, which has been sitting in the corner of my room for a while. And in the corner of my heart. Comment

Lovers' secrets
Farid Para
December 25, 2006

One day we will sit together,
By that little stream in the Heart.
That pours into the river of Time.
Under that willow tree of Imagination.

Then we will know that,
All those yeas apart,
We never ran away,
From each other.

Shahireh Sharif
December 25, 2006

It's Christmas and overindulgence is the going pose,
if you would like to know, this is how the story goes.

At first it's subdued then gradually the madness shows,
the look in your eyes is imploring, yes everyone knows.

Potent medicines can't cure it even at the highest dose,
yet it's somewhat addictive and keeps you on your toes.

It's a semi suicide, or maybe this is what Drs suppose,
despite all these I'm still longing, what do you propose?

My first Christmas
Shirin Vazin
December 23, 2006

My first Christmas ever was celebrated in the morning of a summer in Shiraz in the 70’s. Watching too much American movies on TV showing them how they celebrate Christmas with nicely decorated, huge pine trees and all of the beautifully wrapped boxes under the tree made me think that Christmas is something special we did not or even could not have. When my mother bought Christmas presents for her Armenian friends she always took me with her. I always hoped that the sales person would wrap the gifts as nicely as the ones I had seen in the movies. But he never wrapped them like that.

We had an Armenian neighbor, a father and a son. The father was disabled in a wheelchair. Once I asked the son if he would come to decorate one of our naarandj trees. One morning the bell rang. He brought a box with all his Christmas ornaments. I picked the naarandj tree at the end of our garden. He decorated the tree patiently. I watched him and I saw a dream came true. One of the glass ornaments broke and cut his hand. I remember the sun was in his face. He turned red because of the heat. Finally I also got my Christmas tree. Comment

Ugly people
Siamack Baniameri
December 23, 2006

As the western world engages in its yearly fascination with picking an individual who has made his/her mark on the world, we Iranians are scrambling to follow suit and pick our own Iranian of the year. And the harder we look the fewer candidates we find.

The problem is not that there are no Iranians out there who fit the profile; the problem is that we're looking at all the wrong people.

In 2006, we Iranians, especially expats who're desperately trying to distant themselves from the establishment, have gone above and beyond to promote images of successful Iranians and beautiful people and places inside the country.

We all have seen pictures of beautiful young girls with noticeably small noses, undernourished frames, fluffy hair and Gucci sunglasses, roaming the streets of Tehran, talking on cell phones like they're walking on European sidewalks. Or young men sporting spiked hair or ponytails -- not to mention snow-covered mountains and streets of northern Tehran.

We also have gone so far as to post "important Iranians" videos on YouTube to display images of all the full-blooded and half-blooded successful Iranians who most likely won't even acknowledge their Iranian-ness.

This is what I call: Ahmadinejad Effect. In 2006, the world media saturated the airwaves with images of ugly Iranians, which included the president, the supreme leader, members of Majlis, heads of the revolutionary guards, malnutritioned Iranian opposition groups and everybody else who had moles growing on their foreheads.

This prompted expats to shower the internet with their own "beautiful Iranian people" images. It's a cry for help.

My idea for this year's Iranian of the year goes something like this: fuck all the beautiful people. That's right folks, fuck Tehran's snowy mountains, jungles of Mazandaran, high-rise towers, shopping malls, Esfahan's historic monuments, beautiful conceded Iranian broadcasters, actors, directors, athletes, models and billionaires. Fuck them all.

My pick for Iranian of the year include all the ugly people whose pictures are not floating anywhere on the internet. Those who live in piss-infested streets of southern Tehran, cardboard homes, drug addicts, prostitutes, beggars, street children and all those with bad rash, missing teeth, bad breath, hideous baldness, deformed limbs and noses bigger than the hump on camel's back.

Yes, I dedicate 2006 to all the ugly Iranians that we expats are trying hard to hide from the world.

Happy Holidays! Comment

Draft test?
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
December 23, 2006

It came to light today that the Pentagon is planning to test the military-draft machinery. To ease the apprehensive parents of 18 year-olds, they were being reassured that this will not happen until 2009, by which time everyone hopes the US will have disengaged from Iraq. But what is one more lie? As Secretary for Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson said: "society would benefit" if we were to bring back the draft. There are for course, justifications for this.

Foremost, President Bush cannot find soldiers who are willing to die for his crusade. American soldiers with a few exceptions are about principles. While they are willing to defend their soil, they are not willing to go to the four corners of the world to fight the neo-conservative agenda and die in order to fulfill the agenda of the Project for the New American Century. They have woken up to the ugly truth. As such, there is a shortage of enlisted men to fight the next war – Iran. Battleships heading towards Iran, resolution sent to the United Nations Security Council, this White House is short of soldiers willing to die a futile death.

But even instituting the draft will have its complications. The United States Armed Forces prohibits homosexuals or bisexuals from serving in the armed forces. Unlike the previous policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not allow the military to ask enlistees if they are gay, but similar to its predecessor, it does stipulate that service members who disclose that they are homosexual are subject to dismissal. The official justification for the current policy is the unit cohesion rationale, which states that military performance would decline if known gay and lesbian soldiers were permitted to serve in uniform.

In 2004, George W. Bush was re-elected to the White House based on a cultural divide and not partisanship. The divide was based on homosexuality and abortion. Undeniably, George W. Bush is the cause of almost approximately 700,000 deaths in Iraq alone by illegally invading that country. This gives a new meaning to pro-life. Instituting the draft, or merely testing the draft-machinery, will no doubt create a whole generation of homosexuals in this country; even if it is to avoid the armed forces. Better (pretend to) sleep with a man/woman than to take the life of one. I reckon.

Doubtless, this man will not have the army to attack Iran. But he does possess the madness to attack all the same. The methods at his disposable are horrendous at best. We all contribute to the making of history – some achieve infamy by expunging the rest of us. The 655,000 Iraqis are nameless. I pray that Iranians do not become nameless casualties of history. It is while we have a name and a voice, here or elsewhere, that we can save those about to become a number. Comment

Laughed out of town
December 23, 2006

Let’s look at the problem with Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust conference in Tehran from a different perspective:

  • 45% of adult Americans do not accept the theory that humans evolved from earlier form of animal species (American Museum of Natural History 1994). That percentage has improved to an amazing 40% now!
  • 6% of the American public believes the landing on the moon was faked.
  • 40% of Americans think the age of the Earth is less than 10,000 years.

Here are some more examples of scientific ignorance among civilized humans, which I don’t have statistics for: Most people in the world think the Earth is flat, that the solar system and stars evolve around Earth, that cold weather causes the flu, and bacteria are bad.

When was the last time you got up in the morning and the first thing that you asked yourself was whether the Earth is flat or not, or wondered if you were a chimpanzee millions of years ago? Like it or not, we have put our faith in science and accept what they tell us without questioning it in our daily lives. But, should we wonder about scientific findings? Absolutely. For example if you want to say, I don’t believe black holes suck in matter like a sink hole, but I think they shoot it out like a nozzle, go ahead, who cares? There is uncertainty there. But don’t go out there and say that man has not landed on the moon or the Earth is flat, because you will be ridiculed and laughed out of town.

Which brings me to the point about Ahmadinehad and his Holocaust Conference in Tehran. The evidence is overwhelming that the Nazis committed genocide during the World War II. However just as one can find flat pieces of land, one can also find pictures of not so starving Jews in the Nazi concentration camps (as presented in the Conference for proof) but that does not make the entire event a myth.

The word genocide means systematic killing of people with prior knowledge by governmental authorities, and not just by accident or unforeseen turn of events. The genocide of the Jews and other religious people, political dissidents including unionists and communists, gypsies, mentally and physically disabled people, homosexuals, people of so called inferior races and ethnicities, and others during the World War II is a fact. In some cases it was done in an industrial scale, that means planning, construction, transportation, and so on. It does not matter what one accepts, believes, or thinks. What matters is that overwhelming scientific research has shown that the Holocaust happened.

It’s not easy for a layman to prove the roundness of the Earth or the existence of viruses that cause the flu, but it is quite possible for a layman to read about those things. It is also possible to read about the Nazi genocide, believe it and accept it, but try if you can, not to think about the horrors in your daily life. Comment

Sheema Kalbasi
December 22, 2006

I make it easy on you. It was me by the window.

I will not write about you. I will write about ashes, nights, lights, days, the final inch before my feet give way to a wave.

I am not spiritual. Table is a table. Rose is a rose. Pain is pain. Life is life. Wheat makes bread. The rich may have more dread.


You say: This is not fair. I am not your prey. I agree. You are not my prey.

Let us not live in vain. I will keep the three magical stones you bought me on my birthday before I walked out on you.

It was ten years ago, yesterday!

You know sometimes I do cry. I cry to keep my eyes bright. I keep my eyes bright so that maybe one day when we meet, you can see your reflection. Comment


One more thing in common
Leila Farjami
December 22, 2006

They have Jesus, we have Emam Zaman (though, the chances of seeing a Martian riding a mule is much greater than either one of them returning); they have Bush, we have Ahmadinejad; they have "Jingle Bells", and we have "Anjaza Anjaza", our revolutionary song. What is the inter-relationship? Well, It was brought to my attention today (by my mother of all people) that the early revolutionary song, which later evolved into the "jingles" for the IRI nightly newscast, shares the same tune as "jingle bells". Just try humming the tune: jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way... and now try: anja-za, anja-za, anja-za vahdah...

OK, so I guess even this infamous Islamic revolutionary song was not immune from influence by its Western counterpart: a Christmas carol named Jingle Bells!

So just imagine, how all the Basijis and revolutionary guards thirsting for the "syrup" (sharbat) of martyrdom were somberly stomping their feet to a Christmas carol melody as they would eventually end up in trenches of war; dodging bullets and shrapnel, and sleeping alongside corpses, while all reality was merely fabricated by an ordinary hymn. Yes, and this was just the story of the soundtrack of our early revolutionary lives. Comment


Mandana Zandian
December 22, 2006

Republic of Shame
Fariba Amini
December 20, 2006

The recent Holocaust conference in Tehran was yet another attempt by the Islamic Republic to distract the Iranian public and world attention from the many issues facing them. It was also a provocation coupled with militant ignorance, and as such an all too familiar aspect of this regime. With this conference, designed to cast doubt on the veracity of a well documented monstrous crime and attended by revisionist “scholars” and a former head of the racist Klu Klux Klan, the Iranian regime under Ahmadi Nejad has once again managed to insult our nation as well as the nations of the world.

If a gathering had been held to review the forty-year Israeli occupation and the Palestinian people’s deplorable conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, the world would have nodded even if it were organized in Tehran by a regime with an egregious record on human and civil rights--a record which includes the execution in 1988 of 4,000 young men and women in Evin prison without due process, the stoning of women for minor crimes, public hangings, torture and murder of political prisoners, and preventing their families from mourning their deaths publicly or even in private.

But a meeting like this, held around a theme which has been historically and factually proven, constitutes yet another sinister chapter in the reprehensible life story of the regime in Iran. While this shameful conference was held, some of the best journalists of Iran were incarcerated and only released after paying hefty bails. Not only are they under pressure to cease using their pens, they are financially squeezed having no other choice but to leave Iran.

Many of them have left Iran as they find no opportunity to write their stories and be at the service of the people. They have to live under substandard conditions so that this despicable regime can hold conferences at the expense of Iran and Iranians and waste the country’s resources for proving what is not provable. This conference has even led to the creation of a Holocaust Foundation, a total sham, headed by a man whose ignorance and conspiratorial theories are beyond belief.

Tehran is seeking international recognition. Instead, the regime is isolating Iran even further, only to manipulate a minority of people who still support them. Meanwhile, even among the devout, the basis of this support is rapidly declining as is indicated in the recent municipal elections. Additionally, the recent protests at Amir Kabir University where Ahmadi Nejad’s photo was burned in front of his eyes show how unpopular this so-called populist is today. It is crystal clear that, since his questionable electoral victory in 2005, Ahmadi Nejad’s government has done nothing to gain the confidence of the people who he claimed voted for him. His slogan, “a man of the people” has proven to be hollow. He is using Iran’s oil revenue to spread money around remote places, acting like a modern day Robin Hood. But, he is a two faced man who cries his heart out for the oppressed people while jailing students, journalists and strangling Iran’s intellectual community. His government refuses to give visas to prominent scholars, while granting a visa to David Duke, the former KKK man.

A year and a half ago, at the table of the then newly elected President in NYC, where I was forced to wear the hejab in order to enter the premises, I confronted him, telling him that his regime had ruined my country. Today, he and the ignorant men around him are still busy ruining my country- economically, politically, socially, and now, by staging this conference, morally as well. God have mercy on all of us for as long as this saga continues! Comment

Sheema Kalbasi
December 19, 2006

You sit by the window. You are not tall, not short, and not unfriendly. You have half a smile. You have ordered orange juice, a pack of cigarettes you won't smoke, a cup of coffee for the girl who will not come to you.

I am a wife, a mother, and I can't be yours. You can't be mine.

I see pearls in the dew. I smell roses, honesty. I can't betray those who love me and I love them.

I love you. The river streams up my eyes. I watch you drink your drink. I watch you not smoke that cigarette. I watch you walk out of the room. You are gone.

How close do you live to the north pole? I follow you and my footsteps make seductive marks on the snow behind me. Mine, yours is an everlasting, always, always! I shift like the waves, the clouds, the sands, the seasons. You change. You take off your shoes. You get undressed. My shadow trembles.

I slip my fingers through yours.

You puzzle me. Comment


To tree or not to tree...
Shahriar Zahedi
December 19, 2006

Every year around this time a debate flares up among the Iranian Diaspora as to whether we should display Christmas trees in our houses. The issue is discussed ad-nauseam on talk-radio shows and at parties and gatherings. Everyone has their own opinion about this potentially touchy subject. Some favor doing "as Romans do" and advocate displaying the biggest tree befitting the confines of their domiciles. Others consider this an outright act of sacrilege and remind their Moslem brethren (and sistren) that we, as Moslems, should not honor these ridiculous rites of the infidels.

I think the displaying of a Christmas tree should not have any bearing on whether one considers Jesus as one's lord and savior or even believes in the Holly Ghost and the Trinity. (What is the Trinity, anyway? Is monotheism in peril?)

A tree is a tree. It means nothing and it proves nothing. When all is said and done, one is left with nothing but dried up needles on the floor and a bulky trash item to be gotten rid of.

A Christmas tree display will not cause me to send my kids to Sunday school, nor will it compel me to stock up on choice cuts of pork. It will not cause me to give a third of my net income to the neighborhood church. It will neither increase nor decrease my viewing time of Benny Hinn performing his miracles on TV. It will not persuade me to raise all kinds of hell during the week and then go to church on Sundays to get an instant morality carwash because Jesus died for my sins.

For God's sake, we have enough history and tradition to render us immune to influences like this. Christian missionaries have been active in our neck of the woods for hundreds of years and the number of converts they have so far produced is ridiculously low. I don't believe we are in any danger folks.

A friend of mine legitimizes his tree display by tracing most of the Christian rites and rituals to Mithraism and the Mithraic cults of old Rome, and therefore claims to be celebrating the birth of Mithra, which, coincidentally, happens to fall on Christmas.

I say if it makes the kids happy, if it helps them to be less conspicuous at school, if it helps them to fit in, let's do it for them. Let's give them gifts for Christmas, for Hanukah, for Kwanza, and for the Persian New Year. Don't forget that the Persians were famous for their celebrations and feasts. Let's not forget that the Arab's word for "celebration" or "festival" is "mehrejan". Where do you think that came from? Comment

Ghaffary: Intersection of Western and Iranian culture
Dorna Khazeni
December 18, 2006

It's with a heavy heart that I write to tell you that my friend Farrokh Ghaffary died in Paris yesterday. For the last couple of years he had not been in the greatest health. Still, in July, when I visited him, he was witty and charming and as usual regaled me with a wealth of stories, the likes of which we shall now never hear from anyone else.

Farrokh's career, which took him from Iran to the Cinematheque, working with Langlois, back to Iran, where he founded the first film archive, and then went on to head the Iranian television was rich. His two films Jonoubeh Shahr and Night of the Hunchback are both considered masterpieces. His knowledge of film, literature and theater and his understanding of the intersection of the West's culture with Iran's was also sans pareil, as the French would say.

It is perhaps best for him not be ailing over a longer period of time. But he leaves us with a void that can not be filled by anyone else now. Losing him, we've lost a treasure trove. I wish I could write more eloquently, but you will forgive these cursory remarks. My main aim was to let you know of his passing. Comment

Vibrant political life
Asghar Massombagi
December 18, 2006

The recent municipal elections in Iran and the apparent defeat of most ultra-conservative and pro Ahmadinejad candidates prove two things: Firstly, in spite of severe restrictions on political freedom and suppression of true dissent, the political life in Iran remains vibrant. The repeated attempts by the ruling clergy to frustrate the democratic process have failed to produce an indifferent electorate, at least until now.

Iran is no monolithic, hermetically sealed society and bundling it with North Korea is wrong and dishonest. Secondly, the silly rhetoric of President Ahjmadinejad regarding the Holocaust has more buyers outside of Iran than inside. Anyone with an ounce of awareness of Iran's political scene knows that Ahamdinejad's narrow victory in the presidential election was due to his image as an anti-corruption reformer and the champion of the poor. He is not the only demagogue who ever got elected on a populist agenda and outstayed his welcome. Given even a faint trace of an alternative, the beleaguered electorate in Iran would give him the boot as he has failed miserably to implement his election promises.

The hyperventilated coverage in the American and European media over Ahamdinejad's foreign adventures hint at other agendas at work; agendas of those who seek a regional boogey man to establish more beachheads and increase their sphere of influence in the oil reach Middle East and Central Asia, and those of the politically desperate who see foreign military intervention as the only chance at getting back in power in Iran. Comment

The world is watching us
Marjan Abdi
December 18, 2006

Having inherited the foundation of Human Rights from a just emperor, Cyrus the Great 2500 years ago, we must be able to rather teach the world how to develop human souls to eradicate crime; whereas, shamefully enough, we are witnessing the fact that today all the basic human rights are simply being violated in the very land of the founder of them!

Stoning is a destructive encouragement to potential inclination to crime, which is hidden in every human being by nature. We must provide a healthy education to all to avoid crimes from happening in the first place. Stoning is indeed a failure in our spiritual education.

The very person who throws the stone out of rage can simply be considered a murderer. Please stop involving people in an outrageous crime of stoning another human, and let us improve the level of education and human awareness to develop better souls for the future, if we really believe in having one for Iran and consequently for the world. The world is watching us, so we are responsible to show them a pleasant picture of our deep culture.

Every generation is responsible to learn from the mistakes of the last and evolve to higher spiritual levels of humanity, and for sure repeating the primitive way of dealing with crimes is stepping backward rather than forward.

Various human rights organizations, human rights lawyers, activists, and concerned individuals have called on the Iranian government to abolish the barbaric and violent practice of stoning.

Hope that you, too, will join the effort of Lily Mazahery of Legal Rights Institute Washington DC and Nazanin Boniadi, actress and Human Rights activist by urging the Iranian government to stop all sentences of death by stoning and ask Iranian officials to abolish the practice of stoning forever.

Please sign up here:
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Please remember that YOUR SIGNATURE DOES COUNT. Recent petitions, such as the one provided here, have effectively saved the lives of at least two women who were originally sentenced to death by stoning. Please do not turn your back to the innocent prisoners of Iran who are denied even the most basic rights of every human. Comment

Marjan Abdi is CEO & Principal of International Further Studies Institute - IFSI in Kecskemet, Hungary.

Maybe we desrve it
Faramarz Fateh
December 17, 2006

Los Angeles -- This past friday night my family and I went to a typical small dinner party in West LA. Vodka, Tequila, wine, catered chelokabob and roulette cakes from the Paradise bakery. Life was good. After dessert women adjourned to the family room for girl talk and bunch of us middle aged balding men with bulging bellies went to the living room for after dinner drinks and smokes. No, not taryak; cigars and Marlboro lights. In case you are surprised, both our host and hostess are smokers.

Anyway, as usual after discussing the LA real estate market and how much money folani had made or lost, the inevitable political discussion got started. Someone said that we should ALL buy the new book by President Jimmy Carter because for the first time in history, someone famous in U.S. politics has dared to write the truth about the Jews and Israel. And maybe now the Israeli apartheid can be stopped and the Jews can be put in their place and may be now the Palestinians can have their rightful country.

What?!! Stop the presses!!!! What is this guy talking about and why a few of these men I know and respect are all of a sudden praising Jimmy Carter?!

Let me remind ya'll of a few facts: 1) Jimmy Carter was the cause for the demise of the Pahlavi regime and return of the pile of scum called Khomeini back to Iran. As much as I disliked the Shah, I won't trade a gram of crap from that era for the entire Islamic Republic of Iran.

2) Jimmy Carter's administration was the major cause for the start of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

3) Over the past 27 years, what have the Palestinians done for Iran or people of Iran? Well, except for killing several thousand Iranian university students at the outset of the so called Islamic revolution. Of course, in exchange for all the murders the Palestinian thugs committed, the Islamic Republic has donated $2 billion a year to various Palestinian causes. That is $52 billion so far and counting.

This $52 billion could have been used to improve the lives of many many Iranians. Wouldn't you say so? Or maybe in your mind, having a Palestinian State is worth all that to Iran. After all, we are Arabs, speak Arabic and worship an Arab guy and a book with 666 verses in Arabic.

Believe me, I am not a big fan of the Jewish Iranian community in LA. They are no better than us so called Muslims. But do the rest of us Iranians hate Jews so much that we are willing to forgive this Jimmy Carter guy just because he wrote a book against some practices of Jews in Israel?

If we are so prejudiced and short sighted to let our historical dislike of Jews get in the way of straight thinking, well maybe we deserve what we have gotten. Comment

Layla Khamoushian
December 17, 2006

There is something about them, all of them... the entire act of polishing and shining people's old shoes... all day long, day after day just amazes me. Then there is the whole key making situation. Who in the world came up with the idea that a shoe repair guy should also make keys? I mean, maybe they (not sure who) thought it was so demeaning to just make keys that you also had to shine shoes to feel better about yourself?

Just want to know if anyone else has ever questioned the relationship between keys and shoes?

The Kaffash on M Ave: the little old man who was missing a couple of front teeth and his shop was as small as my closet. His Persian radio so loud, you could hear it on the sidewalk. He was a character. All you could think of was "how in the world this guy got to America?"... "Was he a kaffash in Iran too?"..."Has his life changed at all in America?"

Did He Achieve the American Dream?

When I moved away, and of course looked aggressively for a new kaffash... tried a couple of ones here and there, and didn't like them. Beh delam nachasbeedan.

Until I found Him. Right on my way to work and home. His Spanish music always on and loud... there is a poster of James Dean on one of his walls... he has three big plants that need water and are dying. His English is pretty good... and boom, there is a huge American flag in his store. Of course, keys are hanging on the wall.

So now I have a new Kaffash.

Wait... did the Persian Kaffash in LA make keys also? I don't remember seeing keys... maybe I should go back and check next time I m in LA... and just to say hello.

Would he remember me? Comment

It's Christmas
Hila Sharif
December 14, 2006

I worked last Christmas Eve. I was a server a pretty family oriented restaurant (with the best food and staff ever.) I had about five tables at once that night. When you are a lazy sh*t like me that is more than enough. One of those tables was made up of two married couples who looked like they were in their mid to late fourties. They weren't necessarily rude, but very unreceptive and quiet. The next table I got was a single dude by himself who looked like he was in his mid twenties.

This guy ordered himself a salad, a nice big steak with potatoes and cheesecake to follow. I remember thinking that it was adorable watching him go all out for his Christmas Eve dinner all by himself. I also totally dug his leather jacket and dirty construction boots - he was a man's man. He was really friendly and I wanted to talk to him and keep him company, but I was totally busy. I really didn't have time for anything more than the basics.

I walked by that quiet table of couples while he was on his steak and they stopped me politely to ask me to put the young guy's bill on theirs. I asked to make sure they were talking about the same dude. The ringleader said yes, and when I asked why she just shrugged. "It's Christmas." I probably should have told the younger guy right away but it wasn't something I was used to. I kind of just hoped if I didn't say anything they'd tell each other when they said goodbye and I'd never have to do anything.

He finished his cheesecake and asked for the bill. I told him that it had been taken care of. I didn't realize until he asked which table had done it that these people didn't even know each other. I told him what they had said and he was completely taken aback. I thought it was cute but I really couldn't stick around and wait to see what would develop, I was still pretty busy. While I was leaving I saw him talking to the other table, introducing himself and thanking them. I figured I was done with 'em both so I took my time finishing up some other things before coming back.

When I came back the young man was waiting for me at his table with his jacket on, ready to go. I felt like sh*t because I took so long, assuming he would just leave. He held out $35, which was about the cost of his dinner and I knew what he was getting at, but played totally confused. I said that they'd paid for it already and that all he needed to do was go home and have a Merry Christmas.

The young man put the money into my hand and looked at me. "Those people just made my day by giving a little. I want you to have this. It's Christmas. Give it to someone."

True story friends. Hope you're as inspried as I was. Comment

Their lives were sacred
Kaveh Nouraee
December 14, 2006

I don't know whether to laugh, or throw up.

Only in Iran could there be a "conference" where the Holocaust is denied, with Orthodox Jewish rabbis as invited guests. Meimoun Antarinejad is greeting and hobnobbing with everyone like he's the maitre'd at Morton's of Chicago. (Overheard: Antarinejad: "Shalom and thank you for coming, Rabbis, we are glad you have made it. (turns to aide) Hassan! Get the kikes some chai!") David Duke, the former grand drag queen of the KKK is another "honored speaker" (translated: goh-e-sag). He was quoted as saying, "Well, goddamn! you camel jockeys sure smell funny. The stink in this room reminds me of my taxicab ride to the airport." This uber-redneck cracker gets a visa to travel fom the U.S. to Iran faster than an oil change at Jiffy Lube, but if I even use the word "airport" in a sentence, both Homeland Security and the TSA will immediately conference-call me to arrange a joint task force cavity search that takes longer than my actual flight.

Recent articles in have been focused on absolutely trivial nonsense like 1) criticisms of Anousheh Ansari going into outer space, or: 2) Reza Pahlavi's contradictory remarks on an invasion of Iran.

This is all that matters:

1) She spent her own money, not yours or mine. She did what the rest of us can only have wet dreams about. She is now a bona fide astronaut, and those who take issue with her are just space cadets.

2) He is not in power. Like him or not, monarchist or not, he has no power and defintely no say in Iranian matters, just like his father, when he was alive. (khoda biamorz)

The motto of this website is "Nothing is Sacred". That motto is what loosens and altogether removes our traditional cultural restraints and allows us to have such a forum, to talk about subjects that otherwise would remain unspoken, not just as Iranians, but as people.

But this piece of garbage that masquerades as a person has the audacity to hold a conference denying the planned, systematic massacre of 6,000,000 people in order to establish Israel. But to deny the Holocaust is not just to deny 6 million. There were 3.5 to 4 million people, Gypsies, Russians, non-Jewish Poles, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses who were killed by the Nazis also. Their lives were sacred, like all of ours. And their souls and their memories remain so. Comment

State of denial
Farid Parsa
December 14, 2006

No other government in the world is more suited to host an international conference questioning the historical veracity of Holocaust than the Islamic Republic of Iran. The reason for it being that no other government in the world is more in the state of denial than Islamic Republic of Iran. They are in denial about the high rate of jobless people, the wide spread of drug addiction and prostitution, torture and murders of their citizens, persecution of religious minorities, oppression of homosexuals and lack of transparency and corruption within the government, and most importantly they are in denial about their relevance to the people of Iran and their place in the modern world. Even the most uneducated person can see the disfunctionality of Islamic Republic of Iran. No government is able to deny the Holocaust unless he is in the state of denial about their own crime against humanity. Comment

We are indestructible
Jewish Irani
December 13, 2006

Ahmaghinejad and his hateful clan have opened a 2-day so-called conference on Holocaust denial, in Tehran. Of course, they are selling it as an academic conference to some 67 foreign researchers (read anti-Semites) from 30 countries.

In the name of the six million who were perished Al Kidush Ha-shem; sanctifying the Almighty's name, I tell you Mr. Ahmaghinejad that there have been many others before you who tried to hurt the Jewish people, but they themselves were wiped off the map. Take your ancient countryman for example Mr. Haman who like you had such sinister dreams. What happened to him? He was hanged on the very same gallows that he built to kill Mordechai the Jew. Haman's children were also destroyed, so were their Nazi reincarnations many years later. If you don't believe me, you and the 67 foreign researchers need to read this book, which is especially written for intellectuals such as yourselves.

You do not recognize that although you and your ancestors may have abused, tortured and killed many individual Jews, or degraded them by calling them Johoud and Najis, and inflicted and forced them to convert (e.g., in Mashad), the Jewish people as a whole are indestructible and their Torah is immutable.

The survival of the Jewish people may be a matter of academic research in some circles, but the predictions of our prophets and the declarations of our Holy Torah are absolutely clear; among them "... despite all this, while they will be in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to obliterate them, to annul My Covenant with them -- for I am the Lord, their God" (Leviticus 26:44; Megillah 11a).

I could continue, but I am already too disgusted by you. Comment

In yesterday's news
Rana Rabei
December 11, 2006

Two suicide bombers walked into a bar with a crocodile and a sting ray where John Kerry was giving his classic "if you don't stay in school, you'll end up in Iraq" lecture to a crowd of underage rednecks inhaling paint spray. Around the corner, Mel Gibson was finishing his 2nd bottle of scotch and preparing for his presentation at Ahmmadinejad's "The Myth that is Holocaust" conference; while Britney Spears got the bar and exposed her pussy to a repulsed Lindsey Lohan who started screaming "I'm a whore, but I'm not gay".

At that very moment Senator Foley logs in under the screen name bickcock69 and invites lilpenis to his private yahoo chat room named "12-14 year-old boys who like grown men"; with the fine lines "I was drunk when I made this so it's okay". At the beer-pong table, Bill O'Reilly is seen hitting on Bush's good looking daughter, who was last seen in Mexico AKA God's blind spot, having an abortion. It has been said that she wanted to keep the child, but her partner Screech from Saved by the Bell felt like having a baby would injure his career.

Across the bar, Monica Lewinsky was being tasered by UCLA cops after having refused to give head. Sitting on the bar, Osama Bin laden was ordering a virgin Sex on the Beach for Whitney Huston and her 10-year-old daughter. The Black bartender, who was once the owner of a big software company in New Orleans (before the flood), was busy providing Rumsfeld with enough alcohol to successfully carry out his best mission ever: drinking himself to death.

Meanwhile, Michael Jackson was accidentally kidnapped by North Korean spies, looking to steal an American bride for Kim Jong Il, their almightily leader. Upon hearing this news Janet Jackson become delirious, ran to the nearest football stadium, and exposed her other breast. At the sight of this, the children who were left behind by Bush's No Child Left Behind act, went into a Lord of the Flies daze, took their parents' guns to school and started shooting each other. Thankfully, all the weapons used were made in the United States and the rise in the terror alert improved both the president's approval rating and the stock market. Comment

Clearing my closets
Fereshteh Saheli
December 11, 2006

I was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month ago. I was aware of my tumors a good year before that and did absolutely nothing about them. I never went to a doctor, never sought help of any sort much to the dismay of childhood friends who found me out during one incredibly glorious vacation recently. I tried to explain my thoughts ...

I have packed so very much in my first thirty years of life than most people do in their whole. Not even touching on the next 15, I tried my best to tell them I’ve had enough. I could happily pass on now. I really can! Enough pain, enough joy, enough fun, enough bitter, enough sweet, enough laughter, enough sadness, enough any and all.

None would hear of it. One and all looked for signs of depression. Not me!! Smiling happily, giddy to no end at every turn we took in this precious outing, and partying whole-heartedly, I was a bundle of joy to behold. As if I’ve completely lost my brains, one and all took me to task. Now, having made my promises to my soul mates, doctors’ appointments have been met, surgeries are to be had, and my life is to go on, with percocet on hand, I hope.

I have a friend (more a close acquaintance) who stopped drinking and smoking (both cigarettes and pot) as soon as she found out she had cancer. Not only that, she’s gone so conservative on me that lately we have absolutely nothing really to talk about anymore! Her treatment was pretty harsh, granted. It is exactly what I do not crave.

I tried to explain to my friends that I would not want them, or anyone including myself to be exposed to pain like that. If I felt that for my now-acquaintance, why would I want my young son to be exposed to it? Personally, this has been quite a liberating experience for me; I’ve not only continued my life as I always have (every moment has a special place), I’ve finally cleared my closets as well!!!

I’d left my father, my only parent, at the age of seventeen; all I ask for is seven and a half more years with my kid. If I could do it, pass that muster of what is called my life, live thousands of miles away from my country and without my father, and pages and pages of everything that came after that, so can my child. He’s so much smarter than I ever was; powers of his logic are beyond me already, a student surpassing his teacher, an utter joy, an ultimate source of pride, that of a parent.

My father, once-upon-a-time-of-dire-straits, told me “I planted my seed in you, you will see it grow”. All I’d like to think is that I’ve done the same with my offspring. Enough. Comment

Professor Pervert
Rana Rabei
December 5, 2006

Amongst my many campus jobs, I work in lab. My job description entails a lot of media making, autoclaving, and some downtime in between. One day last summer, I was waiting in the hallway outside the autoclave room, where I saw a blackboard and naturally proceeded to erase its content and do some figure sketching. I had no idea my drawing would become the center of an unsolved mystery case ...

Last week, I was walking with a co-worker past the chalk board where my life-size drawing of two curvaceous women still stands, when I casually commented on how I thought it was peculiar that no one has erased the board yet. This put my colleague in a momentary state of shock then she bursted out in laughter. Once we had walked far enough from the crime scene, and she got the laughs out of her system, she told me the story.

It turns out this chalk board hangs outside a professor's office who just happens to be known for having one too many large breasted women in his class. "He definitely appreciates the woman's body" my co-worker said with giggles and raised eyebrows. Apparently all this time everyone has been trying to contain their laughter long enough to figure out who is fucking with the professor!

Erasing the board would be a sign of admission of guilt; therefore neither the professor nor the students are touching my work. Even though I very much enjoy having accidentally dug a few holes in this pervert's track; I'm not going near that board ever again. The last time I was caught for drawing something in an inappropriate spot, it was on a wall of a mosque in Saadat Abad, and I ended up being chased by a mullah spinning a tasbeeh above his head!

Although I learned a handful of never heard before curse words that day, I'm not looking forward to reliving the experience. Comment

A good look at hypocrisy
Reza Rezvani
December 3, 2006

Why did Ahmadinejad write this letter? Seriously, what gives him the right to write a letter to someone else where there is censorship and closures of papers? He can write letters while Evin Prison is one of the largest prisons for journalists. People who write articles on Iran and the life there but no their mouths are closed and shut by this regime. Notorious under the Shah and now under this current regime.

This letter that he wrote is in my opinion a lecture and a good look at the hypocrisy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He talks about Katrina and at the same time is being a hypocrite. He criticizes American policy towards Israel and all the support and the money pouring into Iraq BUT Iran gives $100 or more million dollars a year to Hizbollah, ships them arms and helps them but at the same time, people still do not have a home yet that was destroyed 3 years ago from the Bam earthquake. This is hypocrisy.

How are you going to go out and lecture someone while at the same time, your government has done the same crap? American policy is messed up but overall, what are you trying to do? Start a dialogue as you claim or just lecture about Zionists and the American presence in Iran? How is this representing Iran and the Iranian people? This is obviously some publicity stunt to try to separate the American people from the government and America has tried the same thing to Iran. Of course, we're going to see people in this forum supporting Ahmadinejad for what he does but overall he and the regime do not and cannot represent the Iranian people at all. Yes, I read the five pages.

Now lets back off this current president who is nothing more than a figurehead and see why the revolution even happened. The same humble religious men who during the Shah criticized him and his people for stealing billions of dollars from the country are doing the same thing! Those same humble men are right now running my country, stealing millions or billions of dollars and putting them in Swiss back accounts.

Conclusion: This regime has to go. Not by America, not by American tough talk but by the Iranian people. This government does not represent the Iranian people at all. Not many Iranians care about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. They sympathize but overall come on, they want to be able to feed their families and have a great life. I don't care about the argument that Iran is countering American imperialism because the fact is that Iran should right now be richer than it is today.

With the unemployment rate at 15-30%, he should focus on that and save his damn lectures and work towards helping the Iranian people and not trying to be some leader of the Muslim world and trying to rally up the Arab street. Prostitution and drug users are on the rise in Iran. Which is more important do you think? Lecturing some stupid ass president who doesn't know how to speak in public (Bush) or trying to help his people? Comment

Oppression, injustice and indignity
Faramarz Fateh
December 1, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- This morning I started reading the letter from Ahmadinejad to the People of the U.S. I read the first 7 or 8 paragraphs and after cleaning the vomit, which had come up uncontrollably, from my face and clothing I felt inclined to write a few paragraphs.

The useless excuse of a human being, the uglier than the butt end of a dead monkey writes: "Both (U.S. & Iran) value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and the bullies."

I can only comment on status of 2 groups of blue blooded Iranians, living in Iran, who have been subjected to oppression, disrespect, injustice and indignity for the past 26 years. These 2 groups are the Iranian women and Iranian religous minorities, most specifically the Jews and the Bahais. Ahay Ahmadinejad-e bi shuoor, in Irani ha adam nistan? Mohtaviyate nameye to be inha marboot nemishe?

Unless one has his or her head burried in their behind, the degree to which the status of Iranian women has suffered in the last 26 years, post the Islamic revolution, is a fact. Women must wear hijab and if not hijab long sleeves and long pants in hot summer days of Tehran where temperatures reach 40 c on a daily basis. A woman loses the custody of her child if she files for divorce. The list goes on an on. 30 years ago, there was prostitution in Iran. There is no question. But now, 10-11% of women in large cities are involved in prostitution.

Why? For a country in the top 5 ranks of oil and gas production and reserves, why do we have in excess of 1.5 million prostitues?

I guess since Ahmadinejad's owm mother was a prostitute, these numbers are meaningless to him.

For the past 26 years, Jews have been subjected to extorsion, humiliation, indignity and injustice. Over 75% of the Iranian Jews had to leave their country due to unbearable persecution. I guess to Antarinejad, Jews are not human beings. The same goes for the Bahais. Two generations of young Bahai men and women have been banned from attending colleges and universities. For 26 years, Bahais have not been able to get jobs in the public sector. For 26 years, Bahais have not been able to have large religous gatherings. I guess human rights do not extend to this group of humans.

Isn't this oppression, injustice and indignity Mr. Antarinejad?

This sub human piece of filth, called the president of Iran, is absolutely shameless. He would make a great neo-con political analyst for Fox News once his term as the Iranian president expires. He just needs to highlight his hair a bit and put on a couple of blue contact lenses.

But because he "seems" to be standing up to another idiot, President G.W. Bush, some of us Iranians kind of like Antarinejad. Some of us enjoyed his interview with Mike Wallace of CBS. We cheer him on "yavashaki".

I believe that any Iranian with the smallest degree of regard for human dignity and justice would not and should not harbor any positive thoughts or feelings about Ahmadinejad. As a group, we should all write to Bush and encourage him to respond to this idiot, in an open letter with facts. The letter should then be made available to all Iranians so that they can start thinking about whom they have elected and whom they may want to elect as his replacement. Comment

The renewed virgin
Rana Rabei
December 1, 2006

I think we can all agree that experience looks good on men. Like aged wine, men are matured into their most valuable state, and unless they reside in Los Angeles, they don't obsess over their physical imperfections. We accept the byproducts of their experiences, as we laugh along at dinner parties when they share with us the embarrassing stories of their ex, that time they almost got expelled for cheating in college, or when they were this close to killing their younger sister by accident. We laugh and feel relieved that they have made it alive, and learned their lesson. But what about WOMEN?

If I were to ask a Persian man to paint me a picture of their ideal girl, I have a feeling it would be something like this: Young, good looking, hard working, smart, and inexperienced. If it seems like I'm drawing stereotypes at this point, you're probably right, I am. But after being the subject of interest of a number of Persian men looking to train me into their running mate in the race that is marriage, it's hard to rule out the repeating pattern of educated and accomplished Iranian men looking for a wife 10 years younger than them. The burning question remains, what has led to this hypocrisy?

Other than the fact that most of us are gifted with the vestigial biases of our parents' generation, I would like to point out a particular social phenomenon that has led to the mass development of the stereotypical Persian man.

To illustrate my case, I would like to call 'the renewed virgin' to the stand.

This man was once known as the life of the party, never turned down a drink, an invitation to smoke a bowl, crash a social or fuck a friend. He was headed to nowhere fast but miraculously survived his plunge to rock bottom, got his act together and redeemed himself. Since he spent half his youth hanging out in all the wrong circles and the other half, playing catch up; he has turned out a little more cautious, a little less trusting, and a lot more controlling than a typical man. Now perfectly presentable, polished and financially secure, our young man is looking to start a family. Problem is, his social circles were always united together by the common denominator of lack of focus and laziness; he has never crossed paths with anyone through his fields of interest.

So here comes a picture of the aunt's friend's daughter... 19, slim, long hair, she's an artist too, a great family, oh and pre-med! Having found no one else to fit into his life, the typical Persian man makes the emotional and monetary investment hoping it will yield a profit of a costume designed soul mate.

And to be honest, I'm not sure if I want to see them succeed or fail. Comment

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The Poems of Hafez
202 ghazals in English
Translated by Reza Ordoubadian

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