In the past few months, the U.S. media coverage of Iran has gone from bad to unbelievable. It used to emphasize the negative and leave out the positive. It now appears to be inventing information that those of us in close contact with Iran are unable to trace. For example, in May 2006 there was a report in the papers here that the Iranian Jews will be
forced to wear a uniform. Last weekend, another breaking news was: Ahmadinejad is imposing a ban on the use of foreign words. There is no
truth to either of these (I won’t list more).
Some of us in the Iranian American community feel that, due to the
explosive conditions in the Middle East, we must provide our American
friends and family members with possibility of access to reliable
information, small as its impact might be. This is why I have put this
e-mail update together to keep you informed of events in contemporary
Iran. Its frequency would be once a week — unless there is significant
breaking news. I have made contact with friends who will monitor the
news in Iran, and I will try to follow reliable publications here.
Needless to say, I will not be able to be comprehensive.
If you feel you don’t need these updates, please let me know to take you
off the list. If you wish to check how informed you might be about Iran,
take a look at the following questions:
On the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, did you know that:
* The Iranian supreme religious leader issued a legal decree (fatwa)
on November 6, 2004 in which all development, production, and use
of nuclear weapons is considered against the Islamic principles
and should not be undertaken under any circumstances.
* Iranian nuclear facilities have been inspected over 2000 time
during the past three years (some surprise inspections) by the
IAEA and nothing illegal has been found. The IAEA’s report has
specified “to date, there is no evidence that undeclared material
are related to any weapon’s programs.”
* Iran is home to tens of thousands of people affected by Saddam
Husain’s chemical weapons, and people have a strong feeling
against the use of such weapons (I know some of these people
* Iran has described the package of incentives from the west as
potentially acceptable and announced a while ago that there will
be an official and detailed reply by August 22nd, 2006.
On the issues related to the local politics, did you know that:
* the Taliban are an enemy of Iran and have engaged in regular
assassinations of Iranian diplomats.
* The Iranian regime considers al-Qa’ideh a terrorist organization.
* Iranians held night long vigils to commemorate the victims of 9/11.
* Iran does not support the Shiite extremist Moqtada al-Sadr, and
prefers peace, stability, and democratic elections in Iraq because
it does not wish its own Kurdish population to aspire to
separatist ideas and because a democratic election in Iraq will
give a prominent role to the Iraqi Shiites.
* According to all major historians of the region, in reality, Iran
exercises little influence on the Hezbollah.
On the social and cultural front, did you know:
* the latest best-selling titles in Iran are the DaVinci Code and
Hillary Clinton’s My life in (Persian translation)
* according to the latest statistics, close to 70% of the Iranian
university students are women
* IVF, and gamete donation, as well as transsexual operations are
legal in Iran.
* Iranian cinema produces critically acclaimed films (often openly
critical of the regime).
* Iranian women golfers, race car drivers, and polo players compete
I hope my next messages will be much shorter. Please let me know if you
wish your name to be taken off this list, or if you wish to add
someone’s name to it. I will send out my first update message soon.
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399