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Archive for August 31st, 2008

The Iranian womens rowing team, who recently placed third international in a competition in Bulgaria--from left to right are team members Sahra Zlqadr, Saba Shaiesteh, Minoo Zargari, and Mina Amini (see below for many more pictures of Iranian women sports players).

The Iranian women's rowing team, who recently placed third internationally in a competition in Bulgaria--from left to right are team members Sahra Zlqadr, Saba Shaiesteh, Minoo Zargari, and Mina Amini (see below for many more pictures from the women's sports scene in Iran).

Dear All,

I hope your summer is going well. I am preparing for a presentation and reading in DC next weekend and then a few weeks of rest in Istanbul, Turkey in the month of July. So,  I predict the month of July would be somewhat quieter. That is to say, you will – most probably – receive fewer windows.  Before the July slow down, however, I have news for you.

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My Recent Book On “St. Louis on the Air”

Reading More than Lolita in Tehran by Fatemeh Keshavarz

"Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran" by Fatemeh Keshavarz. "Jasmine and Stars" is a cogent critique of Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and the larger New Orientalist Narrative that her book represents.

I don’t usually promote my own work in these windows. However, something special is coming up. Tomorrow morning at 11:00, Don March the host of “St. Louis on the Air” FM 90.7, NPR will be talking to me about my latest book Jasmine and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran. Here is the link to an on line description of the book if you are interested. Do listen to the show tomorrow, if you can. I will be talking about the book and many other Iran related issues, I am sure, as the callers call in:  http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jun/1221.html

NY Times Does it Again!

It looks like we need a permanent section in these windows to correct and clarify the NY Times  reporting on Iran. Take a look at the letter that my friend Professor Ghamari (Univ. of Illinois) wrote to the editor, about an article in today’s NY Times called “Iran Cracks Down on Dissent”:

“Dear Editor:
The photograph used in the story about “Iran Cracks Down on Dissent,” in the Sunday June 24 edition is misleading.  While disturbing on its own right, the picture has nothing to do with the crack down on dissent. This episode happened in late May as part of Tehran’s Police Department anti-corruption project to secure the safety of “rough neighborhoods” in the southern part of the city.  Those who were paraded in public, as shown in the picture, had nothing to do with “western style clothing or haircuts,” as Neil MacFarquhar asserted. They were thugs and drug dealers who had terrorized these neighborhoods.  After the publication of these pictures, the Tehran Police Chief acknowledged that the methods used in these operations were unjustified.  While residents of those neighborhoods supported the crack down on gang members, they were also scandalized by the disgusting public humiliation of these thugs perpetrated by the police. I would appreciate it if you publish the correction.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/24/world/middleeast/24iran.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Visual Delight

A beautiful shot of the sunrise in Northern Iran (see the link below for many more pictures).

A beautiful shot of a sunrise in Northern Iran (see the link below for many more pictures).

It is often assumed that Iran consists, mostly, of hot and arid
deserts. While central Iran does have desert areas, the north is lush
and green with forests, rice fields, and tea plantations. I made a
slide show  for you of photos of northern Iran circulated by my friend
Bahar Bastani. Click here: Northern Iran. Enjoy.

Current Issues:

The U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan rejected the charge
that Iran is getting arms to the Taliban fighters for the second time
in less than two weeks.
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/21/2019/

Iranian Women in Sports

Iranian woman golfer (see below for many more pictures and and stories about the womens sports scene in Iran).

Iranian woman golfer (see below for many more pictures and and stories about the women's sports scene in Iran).

If you read Persian you can check out the online Iranian Women’s Sport
magazine Shirzanan. If you don’t, just look at the latest photos of
the Iranian women athletes. Iranian women skaters constitute 60% of
all the skaters in the country:
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article213

Kickboxing and Kung Fu are among  popular sports among Iranian women
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article208.

Mahdiyeh Montazeran won the first international gold medal for the Iranian women in fencing:
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article216.

And, finally, Iranian women won third place in the rowing competitions in Bulgaria: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article218.

Until the next window, have a great week.
Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Windows on Iran 32

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the summer. If you signed up to be on Windows on Iran this weekend in Boston, there will be a few days before you are added to the list. Also, Meghan, Richard, Mehdi, Matt, Prinaz…and a million others, thank you so very much for writing and sending vital Iran-related information in the past week or so. Please forgive me for not being able to write back personally. I do appreciate your help.

I had a great weekend in Boston, a book signing at the Harvard Coop bookstore, and an interview with WZBC, Boston News. I very much appreciated the opportunity to discuss with John Grebe, the host of the show, the mindlessness of talking about an attack on Iran as if it were morally acceptable and practically doable. In these frightening times, when people you think know better –  such as Senator Lieberman – propose violence against Iran, it would be crucial to keep certain facts in mind. I will summarize these below under the headings “Concerning the Nuclear Issue” and “Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran.” Before we get into that topic though, I would like you to see more pleasant things:

Images of Peaceful Life in Iran

Thanks to Joy Martin who sent me these beautiful recent images from Tehran, we can start this window with a colorful show of images from ordinary life in Iran. We think the photographer is Sharam Rasavi (the images have been forwarded by various people and it is hard to determine who is the photographer). Click here: Recent Images from Tehran. There are twelve slides and the transition time between them is five seconds.

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Miles For Peace

//milesforpeace.org .

"Miles for Peace" group in Paris. Please visit their terrific website at http://milesforpeace.org (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

On the subject of peace, I have great news for you. A dozen Iranian
men and women cyclists who had started cycling from Iran, and across
Europe, have now arrived in the United States. Their message: Iranians
are a peaceful people,  they love other nations,  and would like to be
a constructive member of the International community.

If you live in the St. Louis area, come to greet the Iranian men and
women cyclists for peace on Thursday, June 21st, at the Arch at
6:00pm. Don’t forget to  bring your bicycle if wish to cycle with them
around the Arch.

You can have dinner with the cyclists at Talaynas Restaurant (Four
Seasons Shopping Center, Chesterfield MO 63017 Tel # 314-956-0451) at
8 pm if you like. To learn more about Miles for peace, please visit:
http://www.milesforpeace.org/home.php.

Concerning the Nuclear Issue:
Now to the crucial facts that should not get masked by the flow of misinformation on Iran :

Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out). Iran is a signatory to the NPT (None Proliferation Treaty) which means its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened. Please note that there are countries such as the United States, Pakistan, Israel, and India which have not agreed to become members of NPT. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapon’s program in Iran. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything (including suspension of enrichment). Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran:

Iran has five times as many people and resources as Iraq. Hundreds of thousands (Daniel Ellsberg says millions) of innocent Iranian civilians will die if Iranian nuclear centers are targeted with the so-called bunker busters. Iran can retaliate with thousands of missiles targeting American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if a few of these missiles are intercepted, the rest can inflict major casualties. Iran can make the narrow Straits of Hormuz an unsafe place for the oil tankers to pass through, in effect cutting a substantial part of the oil supply of the world. If desperate, Iran can hit oil tankers in the gulf causing major fuel shortage, and environmental pollution. As of now, al-Qaedeh does not have any sympathizers in Iran. Individual members trying to escape through Iran have been arrested. In the unfortunate event of an attack on Iran, a new front will open for al-Qaedeh recruiters. Iran sympathizers inside Iraq, Afghanistan — and elsewhere in the world — will find themselves engaged in a war with the U.S.

Current Issues (more on Iran)
Some of the misinformation spread against Iran gets refuted later but often the major media – which has carried the original “news” – overlooks the corrective statements. One such topic is the alleged help Iran is providing to the Taliban who fight the U.S. military in Afghanistan:

NATO commanders in Pakistan have long been aware that the Taliban has been dependent on Pakistan for its arms and ammunition. The Telegraph reported Sunday that a NATO report on a recent battle shows the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells and had stocked over one million rounds of ammunition, all of which came from Quetta, Pakistan during the spring months. Despite all of this, and despite the fact that the Taliban have been hostile to Iran from their very inception (in 2005, they killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Kabul), the hawks in the current American administration are still working on presenting Iran as supporting the Taliban to justify a possible military campaign against Iran. As Matt Miller who sent me some recent reports on this topic noted, these claims (most probably generated by Vice President Cheney’s supporters) appear to have been rebuffed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, who issued unusually strong denials.
Thanks a lot Matt:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/12/1832/

Art and Culture

* I will not include a painting slide show in this window. Instead, I will introduce you to an Iranian woman story-teller who is already gaining a reputation as the first Iranian woman Naqqal  (a performer of who reads/enacts stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings by the 10th century poet Firdowsi of Tus). Naqqals usually did their story telling in coffee houses (in fact, tea houses because they serve tea rather than coffee!). Do watch the clip, even if you don’t know Persian. It is about four minutes, and does not require much explanation. Her voice recites the epic poetry in the background while you see images of her story-tellling, and of coffee houses in Iran: http://www.jadidmedia.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Gordtest/gordafarid_high.html

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman Naqqal--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman 'Naqqal'--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic "The Book of Kings" (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

* I will close this window, introducing you to an American woman story-teller, a writer friend I have not met yet, though we have corresponded for some time and read each other’s work: Meghan Nuttall Sayers. Meghan writes and weaves in Eastern Washington where she lives with her husband, three children, two sheep and a cat. Meghan has recently published  a delightful novel Anahita’s Woven Riddle (selected ALA’s top ten best books for young adults). This is an historical novel that weaves together rich details of 19th century Persian culture, Sufi poetry, romance and adventure. Meghan has kindly kept in touch since reading my book on Rumi a number of years ago. Following my critique of the May 27th NY Times essay that presented Iran as devoid of bookstores with readers who only read books that lend themselves to discussion with psychiatrists, Meghan sent a link to a very interesting piece called Colors of Iran: Images From Iran’s First International Children’s Book Festival, Kerman, March 2005: http://www.meghannuttallsayres.com/mideast/iran-icbf/. She is currently working on another book about the positive experiences of non-Iranians traveling to Iran.

I hope these rich and interesting cultural pieces have compensated for the unpleasant news we have have to refute on these windows. In the hope of leaving these frightening times behind, I wish you a very pleasant week.

Until the next Window on Iran.

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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