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Windows on Iran 52

A painting by Iranian painter Iman Maleki of a group of Iranian men enjoying some setar, tar, oud, and ney music. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his fantastic paintings.

A painting by world-famous Iranian painter Iman Maleki, depicting a group of Iranian men relaxing and enjoying some traditional Persian music being played on the setar, tar, oud, and ney. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works.

Dear All,

Greetings. I hope you are continuing to enjoy the summer. My summer has turned out to be as lively as the academic year usually is. Let me briefly report.

* Last week I got together with my undergraduate classmates in a Shiraz University reunion held in San Diego! San Diego and Shiraz are both beautiful cities, in different ways. We had a panel organized on Rumi’s poetry. Besides that, I read poetry to music.

* Another exciting piece of news is that I have accepted to be the honorary Co-Chair of a vibrant emerging organization called “Iranians For Peace” (IFP). Our Board consist of five very able and dedicated women of Iranian heritage (more to be added). The main goal of this non-partisan group is to prevent war through promoting peaceful cultural education on Iran. On some level, this is what I have been engaged in for a sometime. These windows are an example of that. I hope you get a chance to visit our website, stay abreast of the activities, and provide us with your support: http://www.iraniansforpeace.net.

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* On the subject of my summer activities, let me give the links to two articles which I have recently published. On July 16, I had an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the link is: “A 21st-century warning from a 13th-century poet.”

* And on August 2nd, I had a piece published in the online newsletter Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/keshavarz08022008.html.  I hope you find them useful!

Who Are Iranian Americans?

* Enough of my activities. Many Americans are working hard to bring about an understanding of the diversity of Iranians in Iran and in the US. Watch this fascinating clip which was sent to me by my friend, and a board member of the IFP, Leila Zand: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/4563 (or view below!).
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Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of http://www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

What do Do Iran and America Exchange?

* Sometimes it appears that Iran and the U.S. only trade harsh political attacks. The truth is more interesting exchanges take place as well, but somehow do not qualify as news. Once I reported in these windows that the American women softball team was in Iran for a match with their Iranian counterparts. A lot of you were surprised. Well, here is another fun headline which does not make it to your evening news: An Isfahani young man, Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian to get an NCAA scholarship to play basketball in the US. Take a look at him in action. Thanks to my friend Omid Safi who has shared this interesting piece of news: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/luke_winn/07/15/kazemi/index.html

* Before I put the finishing touches to this window, I recieved a great clip from another friend Ladan Foroughi-Hedayati related to the subject of Iranian basketball. It is an MSNBC report on the recent visit of the Iranian Basketball team to the U.S. The report is great in showing a side of Iran that we rarely see in our media here. However, sadly, the report follows the general tradition of connecting all Iran related news to the American hostages. We even listen to President Bush declaring Iran to be a member of the axis of evil before we see a few minutes of the game. The formula prevents one from seeing the humanity or normality of Iran because we are first told about all the possible differences, disagreements, and political conflicts. Still, I hope you enjoy the basketball part: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25796284#25796284.

Current Issues

* Speaking of political conflict, despite the apparent calm, the predictions concerning the Iran/US relations are not hopeful. What you hear in the mainstream media is that Iran is about to turn down the EU package of incentives and there should be more UN sanctions. However, the view from the other side is different. Take a look at this article discussing the views of Francis Boyle, the influential intentional lawyer, to get a different perspective on the situation: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/29/10672/.

* There is an interesting clip, that my friend Bahar Bastani sent this week. It highlights a part of the famous interview that Mr. Mike Wallace conducted with President Ahmadinejad which has not been included in the official broadcast of the interview. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ‘s words are often used as justification for sanctions or possible attacks on Iran, it is important to know exactly what he has said regardless of our personal interpretations of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E (or view it below!).

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* And there is yet more grim news from Mr. Seymour Hersh. This is his latest reference to a strong tendency among certain members of the current U.S. administration to create a clash that would lead to a war with Iran. Matt Miller has kindly shared this piece with me. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/article/hersh-cheney-plan-creating-false-flag-attack
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A painting of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

A painting by Iman Maleki of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

The Amazing Paintings of Iman Maleki

* If you are familiar with Persian culture, or have been following these windows regularly, you know that painting is among the most popular art forms in Iran. I have usually been sending you paintings of Iranian women, in part because it counters the myth that they are subjugated, inactive, or unable to express their creative talents. In this window, however, I want to introduce the works of young man, an amazing master painter whose works have been getting him international fame in the recent years, Iman Maleki (1976-). Maleki has experimented with a variety of styles but he is mostly a realist whose works have a strong cultural flavor. Click here to see a slide show of some of his tremendous work: Iman Maleki Paintings. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this window.

Until the next one,
I Wish you all the Best,
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
==================================

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Windows on Iran 49 / 50

Let's open this "Window on Iran" with a colorful and festive scene from the annual pomegranate harvest in Iran. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more pictures from this village's harvest and festival.

Let's open this "Window on Iran" with a colorful and festive scene from the annual pomegranate harvest in Iran. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more pictures from this village's harvest and festival.

Dear All,

Greetings from St. Louis, Missouri. I hope you are all well and looking forward to a happy and relaxing summer. Let me start with a bit of personal news. As you know, I have been on leave of absence during the spring semester. I am now looking forward to resuming full academic duties.

Personal News:

Before opening window 49,  I would like to share a good news with you: A Peabody Award for “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.”

Many of you listened to the episode of Speaking of Faith called “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.”  I was a featured guest in this hour-long program which was aired on NPR once in March and once in December of 2007. I am delighted to report that the show has received the prestigious Peabody Award. You can read the details and also listen to the show at: http://www.payvand.com/news/08/apr/1304.html.

National Public Radio (NPR) program Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett featured Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz on their recent show on Rumi, entitled The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi (click on the picture to listen to the show).

National Public Radio (NPR) program Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett featured Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz on their recent show on Rumi, entitled "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" (click on the picture to listen to the show).

Political:

* The news you will read below is arguably the most important recent piece of information on Iran’s “interference” in Iraq. In my public speaking engagements, I am often asked if indeed Iran supplies weapons to Iraqi insurgents. My answer usually is “I won’t be able to give you a definite yes or no answer because if indeed Iran has such plans, it will not make them public. What I can say is that all reliable historians of the region believe that a calm and stable Iraq is in the interest of Iran. Furthermore, the government of Nuri al-Maleki has strong friendly ties to Iran.”

* Well, it appears that I can now say more on the subject. Released three days ago, the news quoted below calls for serious attention: The weapons used in Iraq were not made in Iran…after all! Please read the L.A. Times article and share it with others: “In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all.” The rest is available here: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19908.htm.

Iranian American physics genius Nima Arkani-Hamed (Princeton University-Institute for Advanced Study).

Iranian American physics genius Nima Arkani-Hamed (Princeton University-Institute for Advanced Study).

Young Iranian American Scientist on CNN:

Young Iranian American physicist, Nima Arkani-Hamed, believes the universe possesses no less than 11 dimensions. Read this CNN special on Nima who is viewed these days as a Physics genius: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/05/09/physics.nima/index.html.

Harvard Scholar wishes to be buried in Isfahan

The distinguished Harvard Scholar, Iran Specialist, Richard Frye has asked to be buried in Isfahan, Iran: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/2908.

A Cypress Tree more than 4,000 years old!

The cypress tree is located in the Grand Mosque of Abarqu (which originally was a Zoroastrian Chahar Taqi Temple). According to local traditions, the tree was actually planted by the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) himself.

This 4,000 year old cypress tree is located in the Grand Mosque of Abarqu (which originally was a Zoroastrian Chahar Taqi Temple). According to local traditions, the tree was actually planted by the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) himself.

News coming out of Iran often includes things much more interesting than political conflict. Here is one. In the historic Iranian city of Yazd, a cypress tree has been identified as one of the world’s oldest living organisms. According to scientists, this tree which continues to stand graciously, is now over 4,000 years old. Take a look: http://www.cais-soas.com/News/2008/April2008/25-04.htm.

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Congratulations to Dr. Trita Parsi for the Award given to his Wonderful Book on Iran!

Iranian Americans are becoming major contributors to the important debate surrounding Iran’s role in the Middle East and the world. Not so long ago, I recommended to you a great book on this subject, recently published by Yale University Press. It was Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and United States by Dr. Trita Parsi.  You can look up the book on Amazon.com. I do, however, want to share a great piece of news about Trita’s book. It has just won the Silver medal of “Council of Foreign Relations 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award.” Congratulations to Dr. Parsi for his excellent work and for this significant recognition: http://www.cfr.org/publication/16231/.

A cute little Iranian girl enjoying the pomegranate harvest.

A cute little Iranian girl enjoying the pomegranate harvest.

Visual Delight

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In Iran, pomegranate is a very popular and relatively cheap fruit. Pomegranate gardens are beautiful from the time the blossoms are out to the time that the fruits hang from the branches ready to be picked. To close this window on a delicious and colorful note, let us visit the the pomegranate harvest in a village in Iran. Click here to join the pomegranate harvest: Pomegranate Harvest in Iran. Enjoy.

Hope to be able to open the next window on Iran soon.

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 37

Some of the many Iranians that the recent American Peace delegation met on their visit to Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond Defender newspaper, the five-member "People's Peace Delegation to Iran" visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom (see below for more on their trip) (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

Hi All,

Earlier today I sent out a special window urging you to write to your
representatives in an attempt to stop our country from getting one
step closer to a war with Iran. Many of you wrote back within the hour
to let me know that you have shared the message with others. Thank
you.

With that, let us move on to Window on Iran number 37 which opens with
a good piece of news.

Major Iran/IAEA Agreement on Additional Measures on the Nuclear Issue

* The following news should be hailed as a significant diplomatic
success, a step toward cooling things down. On Tuesday Iran and the
UN Atomic Energy Agency agreed on a timetable for Tehran to clarify
outstanding concerns about its contested nuclear program, amid Western
threats of further UN sanctions. International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) deputy director general Olli Heinonen and top Iranian national
security official Javad Vaeedi announced the agreement after two days
of talks in Tehran. “We have now in front of us an agreed working
plan, how to implement it and we have a timeline for the
implementation. We talked about the details and the steps to be
taken,” said Heinonen. Here is the rest of the article if you like to
read (thanks Paul Appell for sharing this)
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/295302/1/.html

* The current U.S. administration, however, has so far acted as if it
never happened. The same week that Iran and IAEA signed the above
agreement, former CIA Director James Woolsey appeared on CNN with Lou
Dobbs to say an attack on Iran is a bad idea but allowing Iran to
obtain a nuclear weapon is worse. And in today’s New York Times
(August 29), Elaine Sciolino quoted unnamed officials from “Western
governments” describing the plan as a “new and dangerous strategy by
Iran to drag out the process.” Further down the article explains that
“Details of the timetable will be included in a report” that will be
released later. It is not clear how a plan that is not yet released,
that includes a clear timetable, and that has been described by the
IAEA officials as a “breakthrough” is faulted and branded as a
dangerous plan even before it is released.

Tell the Networks Not to Follow Fox

Why does the American news media not scrutinize significant news items
concerning Iran? Why, concerned friends such as Nadir Sadeqi and Matt
Miller ask in their e-mail messages, while the FOX news works on the
American public to convince them that war with Iran is the only
option, do the other networks not respond? All they need to do is
following the tradition of sound reporting. Christine Amanpour,  is
quoted to have said – concerning bad reporting on Iraq – that her
network was silenced and intimidated by FOX. On behalf of Nadir and
Matt, I share the following information with those of you who are
interested in telling the networks not to follow FOX down the road to
war: http://foxattacks.com/iran (or watch the video below)

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Is the War on Iran Still a Strong Possibility?

* Some argue that a war on Iran is not an option for practical reasons.
A fantastic piece on this is an interview that David Barsamian has
done with the renowned historian of contemporary Iran, Ervand
Abrahamian (City University, New York). The interview is short, very
perceptive, and readable. It has a very interesting title too: The
Mullahs Face Off: Washington Versus Tehran
(San Francisco, City
Light Books, 2007).

* Others are still very worried about the possibility. In his site
www.AntiWar.com, blogger Philip Giraldi writes: Anyone who doubts that the
war party is firmly focused on Iran need only take note of the Aug. 21
lead editorial in the Washington Post, which had the heading “Tougher
on Iran: The Revolutionary Guard is at war with the United States. Why
not fight back?” The Post, which regularly features neocons like
Charles Krauthammer on its editorial page, was a principal cheerleader
for the Iraq war. Giraldi criticizes the Post for accepting Washington
claims that Iranian special forces are in Iraq training the Shiite
militia. “Why is the U.S. army not been able to arrest a single one of
them or provide any evidence of this” is his question. It is a very
good question. I would add that this claim is not just refereeing to
an unsubstantiated hypothesis but a very unlikely one. Any number of
Iraqis who survived the rule of Saddam by taking refuge in Iran could
have been trained sufficiently to return and train their Iraqi country
men. But the point is not how logical or provable these claims are.
The point is the poisoning effect they have on the American public.
You can read the rest of Giraldi’s article at:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/giraldi.php?articleid=11509

American Peace Delegation to Iran

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of www.campaigniran.org).

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

All right, we need a little antidote to offset the alarming bells of
war. Let me tell you about this delightful five person American
delegation who visited Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto
and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond
Defender newspaper, the five-member “People’s Peace Delegation to
Iran” visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom, plus several
villages and towns. The Following are interesting excerpts from Phil
Wilayto’s interview with CASMII about the trip:

On our first day, in the capital city of Tehran, we attended the
Friday noontime prayer service at the University of Tehran. This is
the big weekly religious gathering for this metro area of some 14
million people, and around 10,000 men and women attend. We had heard
that they finish the service with a rousing chant of “Death to
America!” so we thought that would give us one cultural pole for the
trip. Actually, we were two hours into the program when we had to
leave, and still no anti-U.S. chants. So we had to settle for a lot of
warm smiles and handshakes.

Also, I’d like to anticipate the question, “But you probably only saw
what the government wanted you to see.” One evening in Qom – it was
about 9 p.m. – I walked to an Internet cafe to send an e-mail to
family members and friends back home. I stayed till 11 p.m., then got
lost on the walk back to the hotel. So there I was in the holy city of
Qom, lost – on the eve of a major national religious holiday, no less
– wandering the streets and trying unsuccessfully to change some
Iranian bills into coins so I could call our guide from a pay phone. I
wound up meeting two brothers, one of them a theology student. They
brought me back to the hotel in a taxi. So I was out on my own for
about three hours. Two other members of the delegation walked back one
evening to their hotel in Esfahan, and in 45 minutes they were stopped
by three groups of Iranians who wanted to talk with them. On the
streets and public places we talked with anyone we wanted. One
afternoon while driving from Esfahan to Qom we stopped by the side of
the highway and had tea with a family of goat herders. I learned to
smoke a hookah, or “hubble-bubble,” in a 5,000-year-old town about
4,000 feet up in the mountains. We photographed anything we wanted,
except military installations. I made a point of trying to speak with
people from as many social classes as possible. I’m not saying we
became experts on Iran, but I think we got a pretty fair look at the
country and its people.

Sean Penn’s Reference to Iran

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of www.payvand.com).

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

Actor/activist Sean Penn felt the same warmth visiting Iran in March.
Jaine Benson, one of my many friends through these windows, has
forwarded this very interesting letter which I had almost forgotten
about. Thanks Jaine. The letter is long and mostly focused on Iraq,
below I quote the paragraph on Iran which remains relevant today:

“You want to rattle sabers toward Iran now? Let me tell you something
about Iran, because I’ve been there and you haven’t. Iran is a great
country. A great country. Does it have its haters? You bet. Just like
the United States has its haters. Does it have a corrupt regime? You
bet. Just like the United States has a corrupt regime. Does it want a
nuclear weapon? Maybe. Do we have one? You bet. But the people of Iran
are great people. And if we give that corrupt leadership, (by
attacking Iran militarily) the opportunity to unify that great country
in hatred against us, we’ll have been giving up one of our most
promising future allies in decades. If you really know anything about
Iran, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Of course your
administration belittles diplomatic potential there, as those options
rely on a credibility and geopolitical influence that you have
aggressively squandered worldwide.” If you are interested in reading
the whole letter, here is the link:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-penn/an-open-letter-to-the-pre_b_44172.html


Mohsen Mostafavi, Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvards Graduate School of Architecture and Design.

Mohsen Mostafavi, prominent Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

Iranian American Named Dean, Harvard School of Design

Mohsen Mostafavi, an international figure in the fields of architecture and urbanism, will become the dean of the Faculty of Design beginning in January 2008, President Drew Faust announced today (Aug. 10). The news was forwarded by my cousin Abe Massoudi, and my friend Farimah Companieh, thank you both! You can read more at:
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/08.23/99-gsdean.html

Iranian Women in Sports

Time for more fun and for seeing images from Iran which are almost impossible to see in the American media. It is rather unfortunate any negative news on Iranian women will make it to the front page here almost immediately. But images such as these are missing. Iranian Women Canoe Polo players in action:
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article68

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Visual Delight

Last week I was showered with your loving messages about the wonderful
paintings of the Iranian Assyrian artist Hannibal Alkhas. Thank you! I
can’t agree  more. I’ll promise to make more slide shows of his
exhibits whenever new ones appear. This week, I bring you the works of
two Iranian women artists, Elham Nafisi Farr, a young and up-coming
painter and Mansoureh Hussaini a much more experienced
painter/calligrapher. Unfortunately, I did not find much personal
details on them except they are both graduates of Tehran School of
Fine Arts. Click here: Nafisi Farr-Hussaini painting.Enjoy!

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Far).

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Farr).

Till our 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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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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Does it seem weird to open a post with a picture of a bookstore in Iran? Yes, it probably does. But according to the Sunday Times article critiqued below bookstores DO NOT exist in Iran, so I thought it might important to show you a few!

Does it seem weird to open a post with a picture of a bookstore in Iran? Yes, it probably does. But according to a recent Sunday Times article (critiqued below) bookstores DO NOT exist in Iran, so I thought it might be important to show you that they DO indeed exist! And they are actually quite popular too!

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the summer. As you were busy reading the previous window, I was traveling some more, this time to Chicago for a workshop and a book signing. Let me welcome you to window 31 without further ado:

The two-day conference in Chicago was dedicated mostly discussing the subject of Sufism (the Islamic mystical tradition) with a number of fine scholars working on Iran and other parts of the Muslim world.
Quite a few of these American friends/colleagues travel to the region regularly. The subject of an article published in Sunday Times a day before the conference inserted a sad note into our otherwise happy discussions. The article called “Seeking Signs of Literary Life in Iran” made incredible claims such as: bookstores do not really exist in Iran, or the books Iranians read are good to be discussed only with their therapists!

Before I proceed with a brief critique of the Sunday Times article, please go ahead and click here (Bookstores in Iran) to see a few recent pictures of actual bookstores in Iran (yes, they exist).

Not only are there many bookstores in Iran, but the Tehran International Book Fair is extraordinarily popular too!

Not only are there many bookstores in Iran, but there are book fairs too! The annual Tehran International Book Fair is extraordinarily popular. This picture is from the 2006 Tehran International Book Fair.

Sunday Times Article on Iranian Bookstores, Books and Readers

On May 27, Sunday Times published and article called “Seeking Signs
of Literary Life in Iran” by Azaseh Moaveni regarding books,
bookstores and readers in present day Iran. the article presents an
exaggerated and inaccurate perspective. The author suggests that in
present day Iran “bookstores do not exist at such,” and what Iranians
read do not “lend themselves to discussion except with a therapist.”
She goes on to say that after the 1979 revolution Iranian women have
no “social clubs or culture centers to frequent” and that due to
censorship, characters in translation of Western novels sip dough (an
Iranian yogurt soda) instead of whisky. Unfortunately, I can’t tell
you that currently Iran is free of censorship. But I can say with
certainty that the statements I just quoted are simply erroneous.
Last summer, I personally visited many bookstores and purchased a good
number of books in Iran including Sharnoush Parsipour’s critically
acclaimed Persian novel Tuba and The Meaning of the Night and a copy
of the Persian translation of The Da Vinci Code, which I found to be
very popular with Iranian readership. I was fascinated with the large
window displays of bookstores for the Persian translation of the
respective autobiographies of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Hillary
Clinton’s My Life (complete with her picture on the cover) was also a
popular title. Prior to writing this window, I picked this last book
and examined it carefully to be able to give you some finer details.
This translation contains discussions of  Senator Clinton’s pro-choice
views, and her support for homosexuals in the army. It also refers to
occasions where she has drinks (other than dough) with friends.

Another Bookstore in Iran--they are everywhere!

Another Bookstore in Iran--they are everywhere!

Current Issues

* The news concerning a possible American military assault on Iran
continues to suggest different – and at times conflicting –
possibilities. In the month of May, for example, one the one hand,
Reuters has reported 9 US warships entering the Gulf in a show of
force. Following Vice President Cheney’s travel to the region, this
may be viewed as a grave new development.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070523/ts_nm/gulf_usa_ships_dc;_ylt=AjqeRVgqCQwyyrccLNzOyOus0NUE
Other reports, however, suggest strong opposition by high ranking U.S.
army officers to the idea of a military campaign against Iran
according to the Teach Peace Foundation. The reporter Gareth
Porter, who interviewed Admiral William Fallon suggests that the
Admiral has vowed that this will not happen until he is Chief of
Central Command. Let us hope, the latter report is more indicative of
the reality: http://www.teachpeace.com/june.pdf

Iranian Women Karate Players

Iranian women karate players.

Iranian women karate teammates practicing their moves.

Iranian women do use culture centers, social and sports clubs. Having been introduced to a new Iranian women’s sports web site, I decided to put together a brief slide show for you of Shirzanan, an Iranian women Karate team practicing. I am very careful though to keep these attachments very small, so as not to cause problems for your home computers. Click here for more: Iranian Women Karate Team.

Visual Delight

Before, we get to our painting exhibit of the week, I’d like to report
on the great success of the Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi. The Jury Prize in Canne film festival 2007 was awarded by Jamel Debbouze to the Persepolis, an animated adaptation of Ms. Satrapi’s graphic novel about growing up in Iran during and after the 1979 revolution.  Reygadas. http://www.persianmirror.com/Article_det.cfm?id=1467&getArticleCategory=79&getArticleSubCategory=119

Our final visual delight this week brings you the work of an Iranian
woman painter, Nasrin Dastan (b. 1968) who also studied graphic arts.
In this show, however, Ms. Dastan’s work demonstrates her masterful
use of watercolor particularly in depicting natural scenery. I have
enjoyed Ms. Dastan’s snowy days immensely. Click here: Nasrin Dastan Painting. Enjoy!

A painting of a snowy day by Nasrin Dastan (click the link above for many more of her beautiful works).

A painting of a quiet snowy day by Nasrin Dastan (click the link above for many more of her beautiful works).

Until our 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 30

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the summer. St. Louis summers are beautifully green. They can be toasty and wet too. We are enjoying a bit of both at the moment. The news from Iran has both good and disturbing parts. Among the disturbing parts are further American action to create unrest in Iran, as is the Iranian government’s move to tighten its enforcement of the ladies dress code in public and of course the continued anxiety over the arrest of Dr. Esfandiari. Good things include news of continued strong resolve among Iranian women to enhance their presence on the social and political scene by forming new coalitions as well as the usual great artistic and intellectual activity in the country.

One of my goals in these windows is to dispel the myth that reduces Iran to a culture of “villains vs. victims.” I would like you to see that regardless of the internal and global issues that Iran is dealing with, Iranians continue to be a lively, creative, humorous, and art loving people like any other in the world. Here it is in the words of one of the major contemporary Iranian painters Iran Darrudi
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1304.html. Or, read about the three-minute documentary that the renowned Iranian director and screen-writer Abbas Kiarostami made on the occasion of Cannes Film festival’s 60th year. Kiarostami included in his three-minute documentary, 24 top Iranian actresses whom he has worked with over the years: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1226.html.

Visual Delight

Nothing connects cultures like a visit. Let’s take a look at some
recent photos of Iran’s natural beauty (thanks to my friend Bahar
Bastani who sent the images). I have kept the slide show short so your
home computers don’t have large files to deal with. Click here: Iran Natural Beauty.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

Recent Visit to Iran

While disturbing news about visits to Iran get a lot of attention, the
happy and successful ones find it hard to get any. My friend Judith
Ernst who visited Iran recently, had promised to share her experience
with us. Judith wrote a beautiful piece which provides a rare window
on Iran as few Americans make such a visits these days. Her
thoughtfully written piece about the trip received little attention
from the national papers. However, fortunately, it was greeted
enthusiastically by on-line news source Commondreams (thank goodness
for the alternative media). Judy was in Iran with her husband, Carl
Ernst
, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was invited to a conference on Rumi and
while there received an award for his most recent book, Following
Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World
.  I recommend the book highly for personal reading and/or classroom use.  Now, for Judy’s take on the trip to Iran click on:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/18/1348/

Current Issues
* And now to the not-so-exciting current news:

According to ABC News, the CIA has received secret presidential
approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the
Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence
community say. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has
signed a “nonlethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA
plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda,
disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international
financial transactions.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/05/bush_authorizes.html

* Though the majority of Americans many not readily connect the two, the
recent harshness on the part of the Iranian government toward Iranians
themselves as well as Iranian American visitors has much to do with
these “regime change” plans cooked here in the U.S. In a letter
recently written by Emaddedin Baghi of Defending Prisoners’
Rights Society in Tehran, Iran and circulated through the
International Society for Iranian Studies here in the US, Mr. Baghi writes:

In recent years, the government of the United States has announced
that it has allocated a yearly budget for the support of civil
society, democracy, and human rights in Iran. This so-called
“democracy fund” is approved by the United States Congress and
extensive media coverage of this financial endeavor has been
encouraged.

Given the existence of long-standing hostilities between the
governments of Iran and the United States, the government of Iran has
shown extreme sensitivity to the idea of individuals or groups
receiving funds to engage in activities that, in the public words of
at least some American officials, is intended for an eventual “regime
change” in Iran. I am sure the United States government would show
similar sensitivity if it was revealed that there were individuals or
organizations in the United States that were receiving funds from
hostile groups or countries intent on creating instability in that
country.”

Mr. Baghi suggests in his letter that “Undoubtedly, not all these
pressures and arrests are reflective of recently developed government
concerns and suspicions. Forces that are against liberty also use the
U.S. budget allocation as a pretext or excuse to legitimize their
opposition to civil liberties and to discredit their critics.”
Nevertheless, he goes on to say: “It is not right for independent
individuals and institutions inside Iran to pay the price for
allocated funds that the United States government spends on
broadcasting from the United States into Iran or for the activities of
exiled Iranian groups that cooperate with various American
organizations.”
Mr. Baghi’s moving letter ends with “This is why I hereby make a plea
to you and your respected organizations to insist that the United
States government change its ways or, in case of its insistence on
allocating a yearly budget, make public and transparent the exact
amount and recipients (individuals and groups) of these funds.”

* On the brighter side, an Iranian woman member of the parliament,
Fatemeh Rakeii has announced a plan to form a coalition of women
political activists to help women gain all their rights in the
political and management arenas. Rakeii described the main goal of the
coalition as “abolition” of gender discrimination. At the same time, a
coalition of reformist women is also about to form in order to
increase women’s seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections. To read
more on these, please visit:
http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=490115

* In these windows, I am always talking about one-sidedness of the media
on Iran/Islam related issues. At the moment, Iran gets the worst
possible press. But the treatment is extended to all Muslims, as my
student Matt Miller noted recently in an e-mail (thanks Matt!). Matt
writes: “There was a poll by Pew that came out today that surveyed the
U.S. Muslim population. Here is the headline that appeared in U.S.
media outlets (via the Associated Press) about the poll: “Some young
Muslims approve suicide hits.”  While on the BBC this was the headline
about the same poll: “Muslims ‘well-integrated’ in the U.S..”  The
stark contrast in the headlines is incredible. The articles both go on
to talk about the same poll by Pew, yet the AP (U.S.) article focuses
almost exclusively on Muslims and terrorism (citing the 13% of young
U.S. Muslims who approve of suicide attacks to defend religion in
“rare cases”),while the BBC article talks about how U.S. Muslims are
well-integrated into U.S. life, reject terrorism in overwhelming
numbers, and like the U.S. although they don’t often feel welcomed in
the U.S.” Matt finds “incredible” how two stories about the same poll
portray the U.S. Muslim population in such vastly different lights. He
provides the link:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18797530/. Now compare
with:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6680939.stm

St. Louis Persian Music Event!

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

We just have to end on a happier note. What better than the news that my friend Behfar Dianati has sent. Behfar, with help from Iranian American Cultural Society of the Midwest, has organized a concert of Persian music by American musicians called Songs of Love from Iran by the artist Monika Jalili and her group Noorsaaz. The group will perform at the Missouri Historical Society, on Saturday, June 9, at 7:00. If you live in or near St. Louis, come to get a taste of Persian music performed by American artists. And, if you like more information, call (314- 746-4599).

Until the next window, I wish you 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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