It has been a while since you recieved the last Window on Iran. The truth is I have meant to start sending them since the semester ended but had not got around to do that. An e-mail from a good friend convinced me that it time for window 54 to open. I had been calling this friend with little success. Last night, I sent him an e-mail to see if his number had changed. This is the message that was on my monitor this morning:
“Dear Fatemeh, I am in beautiful Tehran, enjoying the election season. You cannot imagine the extent of excitement here, I’ve been hanging out on the streets till 3 in the morning every night and that will go on for another 2 days and then we’ll see what the outcome would be.”
Half and hour later I spoke with a cousin in Tehran. He told me that the supporters of the reformist candidate Mir Housein Moussavi, had held hands and created a green (the color of his campaign) human chain from north to south Tehran. Then, I visited the Persian news site Payvand and saw this family participating in the elections: http://www.payvand.com/news/09/jun/1075.html
Well, I thought it is time I shared with you the information I have collected on this lively – and very important – general election.
First, this is the first general election in which women were officially declared to be in the race for Presidency. This had been a contentious point on which the wording of the Iranian Constitution is vague. The clarification is therefore very important. Although no female candidate made it to the final round this time, things could be different in the next elections.
If you have not already read about the four major candidates, this BBC article is useful:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8060304.stm
Open Discussion of Controversial issues:
People who visit Iran or follow the news closely find a new and lively push to open up the public space for open and meaningful political debate. Here is a clip of a public debate on the Iranian national TV in which one of the participants defends President Obama and analyzes the official criticism of the U.S. as a pretext for the current Iranian government. Unfortunately, the quality of the clip is not very good, but the subtitles are clear if you are interested in getting a general idea of the exchange:
I and a group of Iranian academic and peace activist friends joined this lively debate and yesterday published an open letter in the Iranian media. The letter attempts to share with the Iranian electorate our experience as anti-war activists in the U.S. and Europe over the past few years. We ask Iranians to continue their demand that the new president, whoever he is, drops the topic of Holocaust altogether, builds a constructive foreign policy, frees all political prisoners, and provides full and equal rights for women, ethnic, and religious minorities. You can view the letter here:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/10/iran-defence-anti-war
Reaching Out to People
Young people are working hard to prevent a repeat of the last election, namely a boycott. Websites, songs, short films, as well as prose and poetry written to encourage voting have created a lively and colorful body of literature. A very active Website is “Setadema” which means: “our headquarter.” Here is a song posted on “Setadema.” It has already become very popular. The theme of this song, expressed in funny and informal words, is come forth to vote:
Moussavi on the Campaign Trail
I am sure by now you have guessed who is my favorite candidate. So, without further ado, let me give you a slide show of Mr. Moussavi and his wife Dr. Zahra Rahnavard on the campaign trail. It is our tradition to end these windows with a colorful slide show of painting exhibit. Well, I trust you will find his young supporters quite colorful. Please click here to see it: Mousavi Campaign Slide Show.
This coming Friday is the day. Let us hope for a wonderful outcome to this election. One for which I promise you another Window on Iran. Have a great week. Fatemeh
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399