The gentle giant

Loss of a great human being


The gentle giant
by Jahanshah Javid

I still can't believe he's gone, forever.

Ahmad Bourghani Farahani died in Tehran on Saturday at the age of 48, from a heart attack. He is best known as a former liberal member of parliament from Tehran and one of the most open-minded deputy culture ministers in charge of media affairs during Mohammad Khatami's first presidential term.

I met Ahmad years before his brief political career. He was a senior editor at the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) when I joined the English section in March 1980. I still remember his friendly, playful, welcoming smile the first time we met. His gentle nature, grounded character, sense of fairness and aversion to dogma made him widely loved and respected -- these were qualities not commonly associated with revolutionaries in position of authority.

We did not interact very much in those years (1980-90), since we worked in different news departments. But I always looked up to Ahmad as an older brother, rather than a colleague. I once bought him a book written by a reformist Islamic thinker vaguely about the separation of religion and politics. At the time, in the late 1980s when Khomeini was still alive, questions about the legitimacy of absolute clerical rule were just beginning to surface in books and articles from religious circles. I wanted to impress Ahmad with my "progressive" beliefs :o)

My religious beliefs did not last too long. I left for the U.S. in 1990. But two years later I got a call from Ahmad, who had become the chief IRNA correspondent at the UN headquarters in New York. He had brought one reporter with him from Tehran (Mahmoud Ilkhani) but needed someone for English reporting and translation. He offered me a job. Even though I didn't want to go back to working for IRNA, I was transferring to a university in New York and badly needed a job. At the same time I really liked the idea that someone as open-minded as Ahmad was going to be my boss. I took the job.

For the next two years or so Ahmad and I worked in a two-room office in a mid-town Manhattan high-rise on the corner of 42nd St and 3rd Ave. Mahmoud was based at the UN building itself and covered international news. I would mostly scan major newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post... to find mostly news about Iran and translate them into Persian. Ahmad would do a final edit on the reports and fax them to Tehran, as well as writing his own analytical pieces on U.S. policy for the news agency.

It was during this time that I saw a gradual transformation in Ahmad. If he had any doubts, or misunderstandings about the nature of American society as the pinnacle of Western civilization, his stay in New York seemed to have changed them to appreciation, and understanding. He did not surrender his own identity, faith and culture. He did not stop opposing and criticizing American foreign policy. But by the time he went back to Tehran around 1994, his perception had been greatly modified by the very experience of living among Americans.

The gentle giant left us way too soon >>> Song dedication


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To: Kouroush Sassanian (Re: To all those who read ...)

by Ahmad Bahai (not verified) on

First, let me guess, you are not Iranian. Iranians don't write the name you are using the way you spell it. My guess is you are a zionist stooge wandering on, or an arab loner.
Second, you forgot your other name which corresponds to your profession:

"koskeshe bacheh kooni"



To All those Who Read My Comments

by Kouroush Sassanian (not verified) on

want to make sure that you fully understand what my background is:

I was devoted to Mammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Also, I am a Zartoshti, and when I was growing up, I grew up among the Jewish people.

Consequently, I developed strong negative feelings towards Islam.

Please remeber that when you are reading my comments in this blog. Thanks

P.S. I also use multiple names throughout this site. Names such as Ahmad Bahai, Anonymouspb, Anonymous2008, babakoohi, Kos Sher, and most recently, Nader Vanaki, and Kafka.

By the way, there is also no difference between Nader Vanaki, the real Nader Vanaki, or me. We are all the same people.

I'll keep you posted of new ones if I use them.


Jesus is a he's one to criticize

by Ab (not verified) on

He criticizes anyone who has made any contribution greater than his.... oh wait, he may be Bill gates for all we know, but it isn't our business!!!

You're a hack and a desperate character. Keep criticizing and pretending to care about Iran from America. Screw you and your kind. But you're not to blame... you have your frustration rooted in typical exile iranian issues. keep writing and pretending to be serious.... loser.

Kouroush Sassanian

Not everyone

by Kouroush Sassanian on

Not everyone is entirely good or evil.  Hatred and bombs can do so much; at the end, it is diplomacy that will bring people together.  This is clear in Iraq.  We all want a better Iran. It is unreaslic to assume this regime will fall, but it is realistic to hope it will change for the better, however slowly.  Many in the IRI have mastered the art of hate, so it is up to us to show them hate is not the only answer.

I am sorry for your loss JJ.


Dear Kaveh

by masoudA on

I see you have a valid point - and I do like to apologize to Jahanshah for discussing politics under this thread - as much as I felt I had to defend certain people such as Gentle Ahmad. 

May his soul rest in peace. 



Kaveh Nouraee

by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

I see I got to your nerve! It is pretty amusing! But seriously you are becoming irrelevant to the subject. If you like, start your own blog then I’ll see what I can do about it. Good night man!



by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

Thanks for your intimate article about your friend. This was my way of showing gratitude by shooing away the flees that started circling around his dead body. May god bless his soul!

Kaveh Nouraee

Aghaye Moush......

by Kaveh Nouraee on

First of all, you couldn't even predict a sunrise at dawn, so don't even think you can grow a brain and challenge me in any manner.

Yes, my post was directed at you, so deal with it as best as you can. However, the second part of my original post was directed at all of the insensitve jerks who politicize everything, being so low as even politicize the passing of a man at the age of 48.

Perhaps you should enroll in the Hooked on Phonics courses. Your reading comprehension can only improve. I think it's safe to say it couldn't get any worse.

Whether or not I specifically use your log name is irrelevant, just like you and your opinion of me is irrelevant. If something as trivial as that is of any importance to you, it can only be because you crave acknowledgment and recognition. How sad.

As far as being an actor is concerned, thanks, but no thanks. I will leave that to phonies like you, some of whom hide behind ridiculous internet pseudonyms, log on to or similar sites and kiss the ass of the IRI, proclaiming their hatred for the U.S., the West in general and everything associated with it, while  a 12 pack of beer sits in their refrigerators, next to three day old pizza with sausage and pepperoni. The same people who cut themselves shaving or get a parking ticket and think it's all part of some vast Zionist conspiracy.

In closing, I am not even remotely concerned with surprising you or whether you perceive me as any kind of cliche. Not you, or anyone else, for that matter.

So, have a nice day. This matter is closed.


Problems with some LA kids

by XerXes (not verified) on

The problem with some kids (Jesus, Keyvan, and alike) is that they can't imagine someone inside the Islamic Republic work hard and accomplish something. For example, I have this problem with those who can't imagine within the IRI system, there are many representatives or scientists and hardworking Patriots who do anything for their country and have been working under extreme conditions for Iran. They hate IRI and can't see that there are people who still "Work", yes you heard me "Work" in Iran. Many of them also "Care" for Iran! They are in lala land, never get it!


Dear Annym.

by masoudA on

I did not know you were keeping taps on me - in a strange way I am delighted !!

But so set the record straight - here is my position: I say we must kick some akhoonds Ars. 


Kaveh Nouraee

by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

As I predicted, obviously you have a sighting abnormality since you fail to see the big elephant in the room. Your original posting was directed to me but childishly avoided my log name as you still don't use my log name, like I don't see you but here your answer, much like the grade school girls. You can keep your crap to yourself. You would be good actor if you could maintain at least a balanced face in case you wanted to improve your public relation. In that case you could criticize me for going out of limit and on the hand you could also stop ignoring the direct insult on the author and his friend by your fellow thugs.
However I never seen you giving similar advise to Jamshid, masoudA, Fred, Jesus, and numerous other SAVAKies who are notoriously infamous for going out of their limits and connecting everything to politics.
Man, you have nothing to surprise me with, you are a worn out cliché.

Kaveh Nouraee

To the rodent......

by Kaveh Nouraee on

Your name is very fitting.

If you possessed even a gram of sense, you would see that the original post is a tribute to a dear friend who passed away at a very young age. Nothing more.

My vehement opposition to the regime remains, and will never abate. But the original post was never about the IRI, was it? NO!

It is in fact people like you who take a post about any subject and turn it into a political forum.

Until the post announcing his passing appeared here, I had never even heard of Mr. Bourghani. But unlike the narrow minded insensitive losers who have difficulty comprehending simple words, I saw a man paying tribute to his friend, and not a political statement, or a pro-IRI stance.





Kaveh Nouraee

by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

Why I haven’t seen any of your sympathetic comments for similar articles that were being posted time over time here in All of sudden you remembered to pay a tribute to someone who you actively oppose? This is what you learned from the "Cat and Mouse Game 101”? Obviously your selective vision can't let you see how we got here. But let me remind you that they (or perhaps you) were insulting the author and his friend on a sole ground of working for IRI at one point in the past. Something tells me you've got your mastery of deception somewhere that all other these insulters got that from.

Kaveh Nouraee

To JJ, and to the rest of you

by Kaveh Nouraee on

JJ, I'm truly sorry for your loss. I know words cannot begin to ease your sense of grief.


As for the rest of you insensitive people, you should all be ashamed, but it's obvious many of you don't have any at all.

The man is paying tribute to his friend, a man he considered to be his brother, and all you can do is go back and forth on the definition of liberalism, or to make this a political post, as usual.

In other words, you are a bunch of sick, insensitive jerks.





by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

You've had quiet an improvement since couple of months ago that you've been mysteriously absent. Back then you knew everything but now you don't know?!!!!! Also you were a strong advocate of cosmetic changes, or wait a minute, was it the other way around?



by Lale (not verified) on

I'm sorry for your loss JJ. He sounds like a lovely man, and one who could have easily been our friend too. keep his memory alive.


I don't know !!

by masoudA on

The details on what Mr. Bourghani did, where he stood in his politics or what were the consequences of his actions.   However, I do like to make a point -

We can't beat-up on everyone who ever worked with the Islamic Republic.   There are just two ways to improve things in Iran - either topple the regime, or make cosmetic fixes for the time being - and many out of fear or hopelessness choose the 2nd route, which unlike what many of you may think, is not always easy or safe.   Please beware that many Iranians who supported Khatami in the late 90's - did it to oppose the regime in hopes of making changes.   Yes Khatami was an empty wagon many chased - but let's not forget, in chasing Khatami, many detached themselves from the IRI stem.  


Ahmad Bahai! You are right on or...

by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

the US state dept. officials can call in their “IRI analysts” from across the world and surgically retract their heads from their asses. That way they might get some fresh air and see some lights. I can personally help to extract your head. Please provide me with your contact information so our specialists can walk you through our procedure. What do you think Mr. "deception"?


God Bless His Soul

by Ahmad Bahai (not verified) on

Thanks JJ for the heart touching article about Ahmad. While reading your article, it occured to me that one good option for the US foriegn policy to become "humane", would be to perhaps send their "foriegn service officers" in the state department to serve as reporters in foriegn countries that they will be advising on for a couple of years before they take a serious job in the state department. Right now US foriegn policy is formulated in Tel Aviv by a bunch of blood sucking zionists (anti-humans) and that is why most of the world hates it.

God Bless Ahmad's soul.

Azarin Sadegh

Dear JJ,

by Azarin Sadegh on

I wish you lots of patience and a good pile of old pictures.

Recently, I lost also a family friend and I know that words are mostly useless in these cases. It could be easier, maybe, if I had a small picture.

But I just hope you have kept pictures and memories and little things that might make you smile, remembering him, something like this picture. A little taste of good old times.

After all, tomorrow is a new day and the sun will rise, no matter how dark or how long or how deep the night has been...



Hart disease is a serious problem

by Kalvoks on

Iranian food is too rich in calories.

People should pay more attention to their


Ardeshir Keyvan,

by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

What part of my answer do you have trouble understanding? What part of my answer was vague or irrelevant to your comment?



by Ardeshir Keyvan (not verified) on

It was the most irrelevant answer I could get!


TO "Jesus"

by Ali (not verified) on

In that case;

-The entire population of Iran who were adults during the revolution, "owes" you!!

-Any writer, artist, journalist, entrepreneur, university professor...etc who is working within the rules and is trying to makes things better, owes you!!

-Anyone who has not been executed or tortured, owes you!

And may I ask who do you think you to expect everyone to die or get tortured for you so you honor them with you "approval"?!!


Ardeshir Keyvan

by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

Liberalism is a relative concept. It will be defined in its own context. What you say is a general term connecting nothing to nothing else. You are lost bro! As I said in the time of war, which has a higher priority, personal freedom might get restricted as we saw what happened after 9,11 via patriot act. So liberalism should be defined in its own context. You and people alike try to bring it out of its context and then give it a general form and spread it on the whole society. When I don't have water to drink I am not worried about freaking alcohol. Someone's necessity might be someone else's luxury. By the way you better listen to your friend ---Anonymous-%$&#@&*)(*& :( --- he is sending you a coded message.


Ardeshir Keyvan or Jessu or whatever..

by Anonymous-%$&#@&*)(*& :( (not verified) on

Ardeshir Keyvan or Jessu or other names that you are using in this page

Please have some respect for yourself, and more importantly for owner of this site. I don’t know this JJ, but he is giving you and me a platform to speck out our mind and enjoy the freedom of speech, something that our poor hamvatan don’t have it

This guy never came out to defend or write an article about Khomeini or Khameni or Ahmadinejad, but today he is writing about his deceased friend and telling us he was a good man, who was working hard under Mullahs’ government, and tried to help people and make differences

No one here is coming form behind the mountain everybody knows the definition of liberal or whatever, but thoughtfulness and insight ask for silence even if you have difference of opinion.… Please wish Bourghani’s family patient and peace and keep your argument for another blog and remember

هر سخن جائی و هر نکته مکانی دارد


"Rose is a rose is a rose is

by Anonymous3434342342 (not verified) on

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose."
Gertrude Stein

Looks like a fat hezbolahi to me. Vali khoda biaamorzeh. Man ke nemishnakhtamesh.



by Ardeshir Keyvan (not verified) on

I think you didn't get my point. Consuming alcohol is one of the basic social freedoms that everybody must have. when a system or person dose not allow you to drink alcohol are dress freely or...because it is against their values how can you talk about liberalism? Funny thing is even these people don't claim they are liberal. Liberalism was a subject which used to be put down by all the leftists and of course Islamic intellectuals. Please read Ali Shariati's opinions about liberalism. Khomeini and his followers ideas about liberalism is more transparent. About leftists you can even refer to their poetry. Either you don't know about liberalism or you don't know about a theocracy because everybody knows they don't get along.
Alcohol is just an example, got the point?


Jesus! First of all, if you

by Reza_n (not verified) on

Jesus! First of all, if you really insist on having a hero, the least you could do is to learn his name right. It's Manucher Mohammadi, not Mohammadian.

Then, open your freaking eyes. The whole country conducted a Revolution thirty years ago in the hope of a better future and because they believed in their high values. Unfortunately, the future didn't turn out to be like most of them hoped for, but some people, unlike you, didn't give up. Some people, unlike you, continued the fight for the ideals. Some of them tried to work from inside despite all the pressure and risks it involved. They preferred to face the problems instead of packing their bags and running away. They decided to run in elections, work their way up to offices where they could make a change, to open newspapers, to write articles, to make movies, to participate in NGOs...etc.

But who the hell are you? What the hell have YOU done for your country? What entitles YOU to judge someone who dared to stay and work? Who are YOU to ask for his qualifications when you probably did none of that? Why should someone like him be accountable to a passive bystander like you whose only job is to sit here and nag and wait for "freedom" to fall of the sky?

So what he believed in the system? So what he took an oath? So did millions of other Iranians. So did millions of other Iranians who believed in the Revolution and the values it represented and never gave up. You just can't stand the fact that, unlike you, their disappointment didn't turn them into passive naggers.

Ahmad Borghani doesn't need to show YOU any qualification or apologies for his beliefs. Because of him, hundreds of young writers became professional journalists and will write for another generation. What make YOU think you're better than him? Because you wear a tie? What was YOUR damn contribution?



by Annoyingmouse (not verified) on

Tell me where you found that he was IRIB manager? Where did you read it? He was in IRNA and at the time, IRNA was one of the most liberal media fronts in IRI. IRNA not IRIB, get your facts right then speak! What strikes me the most is that you "IRI experts" have no clue what really IRI is. But it is a good thing though. It is heart warming to know our enemies get consultations from guys like you.