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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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Tehran fashion show.

Tehran fashion show.

Hi all,

No, I have not disappeared on you. In fact, it is good to be opening a new window on Iran.  I went to a birthday celeberation for my poet Rumi (b.1207) in Stanford. Yes, you are right, his 800 Birthday. As we say in Persian jaye shoma khali! “wish you had been there.” There were
fun talks about Rumi’s work, I read poetry to music, and listened to Robert Bly reading some fantastic poetry. I had prepared this window to send out before traveling to Stanford but I forgot to send it as I got busy preparing for the trip.

Visual Delight

Here is a visual delight, a fun fashion show, to make up for the absence right away. It is the latest fashion show in Tehran: ladies
outfit. Click here: Women’s Fashion Show in Tehran.

Current Issues

On Sunday, January 27 hundreds of thousands of people marched on
Washington to ask for peace. As frightening news of the possibilities
of escalating the war – and entaglement with Iran – spreads, it is
important to know that the estimated number of marchers has been much
higher than the tens of thousands initially reported in the mainstream
media. Watch the video at:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/013007A.shtml
According to the Iranian news agency roozna, the government of Iran
has received a message from “members of the American parliament”
although the names of the senders or the contents of the message have
not been disclosed.

Usually under outside pressure, “patriotic” feelings surge to protect
governmental actions we are usually ready to criticize. Recent
heightened American  rhetoric against Iran should convince Iranians to
rally behind President Ahmadinejad. In the last Window, I told you of
the electronic poll that showed a sharp decline in the Iranian
President’s popularity, a display of political maturity among the
Iranian public. The article suggests that some political figures echo
dissatisfaction toward Mr. Ahmadinejad.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/19/world/middleeast/19iran.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

To round up our current issues section, I’ll give you Mark Mazzetti’s
article “Leading Senator Assails President Over Iran Stance.” The
piece, focused on Senator John D. Rockefeller IV strong opposition to
the White House portrayal of Iran as dangerous, was forwarded to me by
Adam Shriver. Thanks a lot Adam:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/20/washington/20intel.html?ex=1169960400&en=a4e

Cultural/Social

At least four friends have sent me the same video clip about Iran. It
is made by the Iranian Permanent Mission to the United Nation (hence
the clip from ex-president Khatami’s presentation to the U.N.). Still,
the video is quite useful. While it does not linger on anything long
enough, it showes a large variety of scenes (historical and modern)
from present day Iran:
http://www.un.int/iran/videos/AboutIran/Film.html

Another contribution to the Windows from my friend Behrooz Ghamari who
— this time — focused on music rather than politics. Behrooz writes:
“whenever I tell people about Tehran symphony orchestra their face
drops, as if I am talking about an orchestra of the Martians.” Here is
something to read on the orchestra of the Martians! Thanks Behrooz
Jan! http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jan/1102.html

Tehran symphony orchestra (image courtesy of www.payvand.com)

Tehran symphony orchestra (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com)

Here is a great article courtesy of my dear friend/student Omid
Ghaemmaghami.  The essay called “Iran and Muslim Renaissance” by
Soroush Irfani was published in Daily Times, on January 27. Mr. Irfani
challenges the portrayal of Iran as a ‘anti-western’ and
‘isolationist’ culture. He states that ” indeed what is remarkable
about Iran today is a groundswell in its intellectual culture marked
by the reclamation of a Persian-Islamic past and interpretation with
western thought.” To read the full essay click on:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C01%5C14%5Cstory_14-1-2007_pg3_5

I am often asked if visual arts are forbidden in Muslim countries.
Here is an interesting source that documents what I mentioned in these
windows earlier: graphic arts are flourishing in present day Iran. The
Bibliography of Iranian Graphic Arts by Houssein Chanani cites books
and dissertations published and presented in areas related to graphic
arts including theory, basic and introductory textbooks, graphic
artists and designers, exhibitions, decorative icons and symbols, book
illustration, calligraphy, book cover, packaging, caricature,
computer, cinema, television, advertisement, poster, architecture, and
publication from their emergence in Iran (Persia) to 1997.
http://www.tavoosmag.com/english/news/detail.asp?codeclass=439&id=4953

More Visual Delight

I have for some time now been trying to put a power point show of
images from an old castle in Roodkhan in northern Iran sent to me by
my friend Yusef Hakimian who communicates from time to time from
Jerusalem. However, somehow the images don’t save properly. Recently,
I got a set of delightful images from a modern palace in Tehran:
Sadabad Place now turned into a museum. These images did save
nicely, and I turned them into a slide show for you.
Please click here: Sa’dabad Palace. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend.

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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Shahla Lahiji, who is the head of Roshangaran Publications and a promient activist, was given the 2006 International Publisher's Association Award. A celebration (pictured above) was held in her honor in the Pegah bookstore in Tehran (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

Dear All,

Greeting! I hope you are enjoying a pleasant week. I cannot thank you
enough for all your sweet and supportive messages. The last painting
slide show was particularly popular. There is more to come! I hope you
enjoy them and find good use for them in the classroom.

I spent an intense time in the conference “Terrorism and the University”
held at CUNY which brought together a wonderful group of dedicated and
engaged scholars. It was both refreshing and frightening to hear from
authorities that the real WMDs are here in our very own nuclear arsenal.
It was also heartening to meet American scholars who teach these
subjects and take their students on yearly trips to Nagasaki and
Hiroshima to let them experience first hand whatever impact may still be
left. Most disturbing, and relevant to our discussion, was the
presentation by Daniel Ellsberg who, despite the recent election
results, estimates the possibility of an underground nuclear attack on
Iran over the next two years as very high. He put the initial estimated
causality of such a possible attack at 2,000,000 (yes, two million
people). The presentations of this panel were so chilling that at times
it felt like listening to fiction. But then he knew that we might be
afraid of taking his figures as real, so he spoke about other instances
such as the blanket firebombing of a large number of Japanese cities by
the American air force in the 1940s which only two people in the room
were well-informed about! I cannot express my gratitude to Mr. Ellsberg
for this eye opening panel.

Folks! I am not under any illusions that these e-mails can change the
American foreign policy – or public opinion for that matter, but if we
have a hope in the world it is in reaching every single person we can
reach. Americans need to know that Iranians are not crazy, they are not
anti-Semites, they are not a threat to the world. They need to know that
Iran can be talked to.

And now to happier and more hopeful issues in our Window number 13.

Current Issues

* On a very positive note, last week Mr. Robert Gates, the New
American Secretary of Defense visited Dr. Javad Zarif, Professor
of International Law and current Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister.
The two had lunch in Dr. Zarif’s house in New York. If this is an
indication of what is to come, may be the elections will impact
the American foreign policy on Iran in a meaningful way, after all.

* This is echoed in an article by Dr. Trita Parsi, President of NIAC, who predicts better days in the Iran/U.S. relations. Mr. Parsi observes: “It was Cheney and Rumsfeld who made sure that Washington dismissed Iran’s May 2003 offer to open up its nuclear program, rein in Hezbollah, recognize a two-state solution and cooperate against al Qaeda. Rumsfeld was also a driving force behind using the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian terrorist organization opposed to the ruling clerics, to weaken Tehran.” To read the whole essay, click on: http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press484.asp

* The latest BBC report on the subject, indicates that President
Bush and Mr. Blair find themselves in agreement with the NIAC
president. However, while inviting Iran to help with solving the
Iraq problem, Mr. Blair did his best to be as insulting as
possible warning the country ” with the consequences of not doing
so.”  Sounds like an effective diplomatic gesture:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6141978.stm

Successful Iranian Americans

Nooshen Hashemi
Nooshen Hashemi (image courtesy of http://www.forbes.com)

* Iranian Americans continue to move to the main stream of American society with great personal achievements in various areas. Noosheen Hashemi, holder of a masters degree in science from Stanford, is a private investor and advisor to companies and nonprofits. Her approach to decorating and collecting, blending Japanese, Persian, and American arts has become a sensation: http://www.forbes.com/2000/12/20/1220CandC.html

Social/ Cultural (Iran)

* Last week Shahla Lahiji, one of the first Iranian women publishers
and a noted activist was honored in Tehran. Ms. Lahiji, who has
head the Roshangaran Publications for over 30 years, recently won
the 2006 International Publisher’s Association Award for
publishing a remarkable number of books by and about women. Many
feminists attended the celebration held last Monday in her honor
in Pegah bookstore in Tehran. Scroll down to see images of the
celebration and of the bookstore:
http://www.payvand.com/news/06/nov/1106.html

* This one is a riot! No one will believe this is happening in Iran
right now. Two Iranian siblings have revolutionized the way drug
addicts and HIV/AIDS-infected people are treated in Iran. Doctors
Arash and Kamiar Alaei now have clinics in 67 Iranian cities and
57 prisons and are a World Health Organization model for the
Muslim world. The brothers were interviewed on September 28 in
Washington after their visit to the U.S. National Institute of
Health:
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticleprint/2006/10/7a8ceb97-4fb8-4b22-b87c-ad2d304720cb.html

Visual Delight

Baharak Omidfard (courtesy of elahe.net)

Baharak Omidfard (image courtesy of http://www.elahe.net)

* In the last Window I had a slide show of contemporary Iranian painters who work in the classic style. This week we have another splash of color, the works a young female artist with a taste for lively abstract expression: Baharak Omidfard (class of 2000, Tehran University, School of Graphic Arts) (click here): Baharak Omidfard Show.

* For our concluding visual delight, the latest interpretation of the constitutionally sanctioned Islamic outfit, just scroll down.

Have a great week.
===================================
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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