The First Nowruz Gift
On this celebration, which lasts for days, Iranians visit friends and relatives and give each other gifts. In that spirit, I have a gift for you all. Less than two hours ago, the Human Rights Council voted 22 to 7 to establish a United Nation’s special mechanism to monitor the human rights in Iran. This is a great victory for the people of Iran and a failure for the Islamic Republic which has been lobbying long an hard to prevent this. Of particular importance were the voting of Brazil, Senegal, and South Korea in favor of the resolution. Check out the details here.
More Nowruz Gifts
A while back, when Mr. Ahmadinejad visited Tehran Polytechnic, a student by the name of Yusof Rashidi held up a sing that read “Fascist President, you are not welcome in Polytechnic.” You can see the controversial photo which earned him international fame:
We now know that the fear that he was going to be executed was unfounded. Rashidi was recently released after a hundred days in prison. If you know Persian you can read more about him here.
And Now More About Nowruz Itself
First, Nowruz is celebrated by many besides Iranians including Tajiks and Kurds. You can read about Nowruz, its special rituals and their meaning here.
Then you can enjoy this photo essay about the Nowruz ritual of setting the Haft Sin by Nazi Kaviani
Mohammad Khatami Gets Warm Reception
The Islamic Republic is at a loss as to how to handle Mohammad Khatami, the reformist two-term President of the Islamic Republic (1996-2004) under whose leadership social and cultural reform started to take place in Iran. He is not corrupt, he is not angry, and he does not have many enemies. So far, the strategy of the regime has been to present him as timid and subservient to the wishes of the West. But these attempts seem to be of little effect on his popularity. On the eve of Nowruz, Mr. Khatami visited Ardakan, a small city in central Iran. Although the visit took place under the cover of the night, and security forces did not allow publicity for it, he received a warm welcome from the population. This reception is particularly important because the regime claims that the reformists are popular only in large cities while Ahmadinejad has a strong base in small towns and villages. Here is a clip from Mr. Khatami’s visit:
I did not have a chance to report on the March 8 events in Iran. Even before women start any Marches on Women’s Day, Tehran turned into a garrison again with anti-riot forces harassing people randomly:
It is very difficult to get clips of the protests. Here is one sent by a dear friend I shall not name:
Also, you can watch a video of March 8 demonstration on face book here
Education Under Attack
The Iranian government has been conducting a systematic assault on the Iranian universities particularly in the area of the Humanities. Any discussion that subjects the regime to analysis and possible criticism is viewed as a hostile act. The latest in this regard is a statement issued by the ministry of higher education forbidding the Iranian students studying abroad from doing research on Iran related topics. In an interview on March 8, Mohammad Hussein Majlisara called such studies “pointless” and said the rule particularly applies to the students who are not using government scholarship (in other words, their subject of study is not controlled by the government). Majlisara said the Iranian government will suggest permitted topics to the students! Here is BBC report on the subject.
The Green Movement for Democracy in Iran has inspired many artists across the globe. The most recent inspiration has led to a collaboration between Mahmood Karimi Hakkak, path-breaking Professor of Theater at Siena College and the paragon of freethinking, William Shakespeare: for more information on HamletIRAN, checkout the website and the Facebook page.
Painting of the Week
You always enjoy the paintings posted on these windows. Let me leave you with two beautiful paintings by Hoda Kashiha who had an exhibit in Tehran a month ago. She was born in 1986 and received her B.A. in painting from the School of Fine Arts in Tehran University. Here are two of her works from the exhibit, both ink on cardboard:
and this one, both created in 2010:
Have a great spring!