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Archive for the ‘civil society’ Category

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)

|

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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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 29

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi, are cycling around the world in an effort to spread their message of peace and friendship (see below for more about them and their trip). (Image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk)

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi, are cycling around the world in an effort to spread their message of peace and friendship (see below for more about them and their trip).

Dear All,

Greetings, after two weeks…and no windows. I hope you are all well. For me, it has been a very busy time. The commencement on Washington University campus has been as lively and colorful as ever. I am enjoying a smaller version of the festivities at home, as my own daughter graduates from high school this weekend. What am I doing sending a window on my daughter’s graduation weekend? I woke up this morning, and simply missed talking to you all. Furthermore, I have had queries about the windows, and about recent events in Iran, which made me think it would be good to open Window 29 even if on a briefer fashion than usual.

I have been traveling. I was away for a week sitting on a panel at MIT in Boston, and then on to New York. The panel at MIT was organized by
the Middle East Crisis Coalition and CASMII (the Campaign Against
Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran) and was titled
“Preventing a War on Iran.” Over 500 people attended. The panel was
also an occasion for me to have the pleasure of meeting Professor Noam
Chomsky, the brilliant linguist and renowned peace activist. It was
heart warming to see that so many people wanted to do something to
prevent a military confrontation with Iran. In the audience, there
were many subscribers to Windows on Iran. Close to a hundred of those
who were not signed up. If you are one of the newcomers to these
windows, welcome!

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz addressing the United Nations General Assembly (please click the link on the right for the video). (Image courtesy of www.un.org).

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz addressing the United Nations General Assembly (please click the link on the right for the video of her speech). (Image courtesy of http://www.un.org).

From Boston, I flew directly to New York, where I was to enjoy the great and unique experience of making a presentation at the General Assembly of the United Nations. At the suggestion of the President of the Assembly, a cultural debate had been organized for the representatives of the nations to switch from purely political issues to the cultural matters at the roots of political conflict.  This was a two-day event that brought some ministers of culture, high ranking religious leaders, and scholars to speak. The format of the debate was the usual one at the Assembly. Once we spoke, the representatives of nations asked questions and commented. At the end, we responded. It was absolutely delightful to be welcomed by the President of the Assembly and by the Secretary General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon. Here is the link to the video clip of the panel: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ga/61/ga070510am.rm . The panel is long. Around minute twenty-four the moderator introduces us, the three panelists. My presentation is about sixty minutes into the session.

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi (visit their website at: http://www.rmc4peace.com/).

Iranian Cyclists Cycle for Peace

On May 10th 2007, 14 Iranian cyclists will travel city by city across ITALY, GERMANY, FRANCE, UK and US to communicate the pacifist message of Iranian people to other nations around the world as:

* We Iranians are peace loving people.
* We Iranians love all other nations.
* We Iranians wish to be a constructive member of the international community.

Current Events:

* Not all is peaceful and rosy. Some of you have been asking me about the situation of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari the Iranian American Scholar who was arrested in Iran about ten days ago. The Iranian news paper Keyhan which reflects the views of the religious right in Iran has made accusations of connections between Dr. Esfandiari and regime change attempts outside Iran. This is very unfortunate because security related accusations could imply closed trails and restrictions on contact with lawyers (as is the case with the Guantanamo detainees).The Iranian lawyer and Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has announced that she will defend Dr. Esfandiari and her legal team in attempting to meet with Dr. Esfandiari. This troubling incident is bad news for those of us who work to empower the moderate forces in Iran. It shows that the outside threat of regime change and military campaign in Iran – far from helping the situation – leaves Iranian moderates powerless and gives the upper hand to extremists who prefer confrontation rather than cooperation with the west. Iranian academics and intellectuals have condemned this incident. We all hope for a speedy resolution of this troubling conflict. Dr. Esfandiari’s arrest may well be a response to the arrest of the five Iranian nationals who have been in American custody for months now. According to Iranian  news media, U.S. officials have indicated that these Iranians who have been detained in northern Iraq by U.S. forces could be released by June 21.

* On a totally different note, my wonderful American friends Judy and
Carl Ernst who just visited Iran have returned with lots of heart
warming stories of friendship and well wishing. Many Iranians told
them how they do NOT hate Americans and wish for the political
conflict to be resolved in peaceful ways. Judy and Carl have promised
me photographs which I will duly post on these windows.
* Many of you sent me information this week about a recent and very
positive Iran-related cultural event at the United States. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice, accompanied by young artists from Iran and
Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes, toured an Iranian art exhibit,
“Wishes and Dreams”, May 10, at the Meridian International Center
where she praised Iran’s rich culture and the work of Iranian young
artists: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1137.html

Iranian Americans in California

* Iranian Americans succeed in bringing positive change to American
perceptions of Iran. This includes a wide range of activities,
sometimes very different from the art exhibit mentioned above.
Recently, a  Blackwell medical textbook titled How the Immune System
Works, by Dr. Lauren Sompayrac was removed from many reading lists
thanks to the activism of the Iranian Americans. A required reading by
the Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Immunology at
UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, for example, the book
contains a passage (on p.49, 2nd edition) which draws an analogy
between the response of the immune system to pathogens and that of the
Defense Department “to a threat to our national security”, comparing
the would-be pathogens to “Iranian terrorists” who would potentially
“fire on one of our embassies” here in the United States. It is
shocking that a respectable publisher would allow this to appear in
print in the first place. (Thanks to  my friend Sara Ruebelt for
sharing this news).
* If you remember, I reported in Window 28, the sudden and unexplained
decision of the American Chemical Society not to renew the membership
of its  Iranian scientist members. Due to pressure from Iranian
American Scientists, the society reversed its decision.

* To get and idea of the kind of activities that the Iranian American
community in California engage in, please click here: http://www.nipoc.org/. Their calendar which is put together by the Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange Country, NIPOC provides social, cultural, and political news. The calendar was forwarded to me by my friend, Minoo Riahi-sharifan. Thanks Minoo jan!

A painting by Sadegh Barirani (click on the link on the right for more of his work).

A painting by Sadegh Barirani (click on the link on the right for more of his work).

Visual Delight

And on to our weekly visual delight before the closing of this window. I would like, this time, to introduce you to two contemporary painters. Elham Bayati is a young and upcoming female artist of 27 who has already had multiple exhibits of her work. The same slide show cotains works of Sadegh Barirani, a more mature artist who has years of teaching experience in addition to producing his own work. As you will see in the slide show, Bayati and Barirani have very different styles. Click here: Bayati and Barirani Art Show.

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 28

Jewish School in Shiraz, Iran (photo courtesy of www.iranian.com). Read below to learn about the strong and proud Iranian Jewish community.

A Jewish School in Shiraz, Iran. Please read below to learn about the strong and proud Iranian Jewish community. (photo courtesy of http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Welcome to another Window on Iran. I am delighted to report that I
have just welcomed our first subscriber from Italy! Is this cool or
what? Thank you all for doing such a super job of promoting these
windows globally. Now practically anywhere I do public speaking, a
number of people in the audience are familiar with these windows. I am
also grateful to you all for forwarding to me the interesting stuff
you like to share with others.

On to our Window number 28!

Current Issues:
* I start this week’s current issues with an amazing piece of evidence
that came to light on April 29:

Barely a week has been passed since our speaker Professor
Ghamari-Tabrizi made his excellent presentation “A Manufactured
Crisis: Facts, Fiction, and the Politics of a Nuclear Iran” at
Washington University. Professor Ghamari spoke to a surprised audience
about numerous steps taken by Iran over the past few years to reduce
tension with the U.S. and to end the crisis. These steps were ignored
by the current U.S. administration. An op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY
Times by Nicholas Kristof reveals exactly that: a secret proposal that
the Iranian government sent to the current American administration in
the hope of making peace. Mr. Kristof, who still uses a demeaning
language to speak of Iranians, admits nevertheless that “The officials
from the repressive, duplicitous government of Iran pursued peace more
energetically and diplomatically than senior Bush administration
officials.” The Iranian proposal offered “full transparency”
concerning the Iranian nuclear technology, “active support for Iraqi
stabilization,” and “pressuring Hamas to stop violent actions against
civilians inside Israel” among other things. Obviously, Iran wanted
something in return. These demands described by Mr. Kristof as ‘a lot’
included “mutual respect,” abolition of sanctions, access to peaceful
nuclear technology and a U.S. statement that Iran did not belong in
the “axis of evil.” Sadly, the Iranian diplomats, (obviously
moderates) who had worked hard to make this proposal possible, were
ignored by the American administration and the opportunity that Mr.
Kristof calls “a real hope for peace” was lost. Here is the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/ontheground

More to the point is that another window of opportunity for engaging
Iran in a positive way seems to be around the corner provided we sing
songs different from the one proposed by Senator MacCain.

Suggested Reading:
* If it is hard for you to accept that Iran may have a diverse political
landscape in which there are moderates who oppose the view points of
the extremists and work hard to move Iran in the direction of positive
change, take a look at this excellent recently published book on the
subject: Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty by
Professors Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr (Oxford University Press,
2006).

* You have heard me complain about the misinformation on Iran. Starting
last summer, the popular media allowed incredibly slanted reporting.
There were times that I felt I was reading about another country not
the one I had just visited. At first, I searched for critical
responses and discussions that would subject such slanted reporting to
scrutiny. Little by little, I lost hope. Finally, I felt so concerned
about the intensity of the misinformation that I decided to start
these windows. Last week, a journalist gave me new respect for our
media. In a special edition of his journal “Buying the War: How did
the Mainstream Press get it so Wrong?” Mr. Bill Moyers asked why the
press did not scrutinize the ‘information’ that led to the war in
Iraq. I pray from the bottom of my heart that we scrutinize the
information given to us which suggests that Iran is a threat to the
world, before it is too late. Please watch this program and compare
the rhetoric to the one used against Iran:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html

Time to Laugh!

* Let’s get a bit light-hearted with all this political talk. Some
members of CodePink have had a little fun with Senator MacCain’s idea
of using a Beach Boy song to “joke” about bombing a country:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTEBjPCNBbc

Abadan, Iran.

Abadan, Iran.

* While we are on fun themes, Americans who lived in Iran in the 60s and 70s think about Iran nostalgically. Joy Martin, a subscriber to these windows, has sent me this beautiful photo-essay of the city of Abadan by Paul Scheroeder. Thank you Joy!
http://www.iranian.com/Abadan/2007/April/1958/index.html

Science

* Apparently, last year the American Chemical Society suddenly decided to expel its Iranian scientist members (no explanation given). The ACS simply decided not to renew the membership of its Iranian scientist members starting January 2007 without disclosing it to the public. Members heard of this decision when it was reported in the March issue of the Science Magazine. A number of prominent Iranian American scientist have written an open letter to the ACS trying to reverse this decision which they consider to be politically motivated, unfair, and damaging to Iranian scientists:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/apr/1351.html

Social

Iranian Jews in a synagogue in Tehran (photo courtesy of AP, Hasan Sarbakhshian).

Iranian Jews in a synagogue in Tehran (photo courtesy of AP, Hasan Sarbakhshian).

* There is a recent story in the Christian Science Monitor about Iranian
Jewry. No one should pretend that Iranian society would not benefit
from social reform. Neither do minorities in any society enjoy
identical privileges as the main stream. But Iranian Jews are proud
people. They feel offended by being portrayed as victims, or a
minority whose way of life is disrespected in present day Iran. What
affects them most is the political tension between the Iranian and
Israeli governments. But as you read in the interview, they focus
mostly on positive aspects of their peaceful coexistence with Muslims
and the fact that they are Iranian. Currently there are about 100
functioning synagogues in Iran. I’d like to thank Behrooz Ghamari for
sending me the link to share with you:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0427/p01s03-wome.html
Visual Delight

A beautiful painting by Iranian artist Sholeh Reshad (click the link below for more).

A beautiful painting by Iranian artist Sholeh Reshad (click on the link below for more of her work).

We have to end in our time honored tradition of visiting a painting
gallery. By now, I have sent you slide shows of the paintings of close
to 20 contemporary Iranian women painters, their ages ranging from 20
to 50, and their works technically impressive, artistically
imaginative and colorful (thematically as well as visually). Here is
one to add to the collection: Sholeh Reshad, a 52 year old painter
with long experience and a style of her own. I hope these artistic
works show something of the sophistication of contemporary Iranian
women and the fact that they are not passive fantasy objects locked up
in harems. Click here: Sholeh Reshad Art. Enjoy.

Till Window 29, 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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A beautiful painting by the Iranian painting Farah Notash (see the end of this post for more of her work).

A beautiful painting by the Iranian painter Farah Notash (see the end of this post for more of her work).

Dear All,

I hope you are well. As we prepare to wrap up the semester here at Washington University in St. Louis, lots of exciting things are still happening. I will here mention two events specifically related to Iran.

Last week, Washington University Coalition for Peace organized a panel discussion that brought close to fifty students together in the dorm area. The title of the panel was Out of Iraq, Hands off Iran. Professor Howard Brick of the History Department, Mr. Bill Ramsey of Human Right’s Watch, and I spoke. More importantly, a long and meaningful discussion ensued that looked at our options with regard to the reality in Iraq and ways of bringing the suffering to an end. If you are a part of Washington University community, you have likely seen the flyer for the second event. Professor Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, a dynamic and dedicated historian of the Middle East with special interest in transnational and global aspects of history, will talk on our campus tomorrow. The topic of his talk: A Manufactured Crisis: Facts and Fiction, and the Politics of a Nuclear Iran. Do stop by at Ridgley, 219 at 3:00 to hear often neglected facts about this much debated conflict.

Current Issues

* If you are concerned about the “Islamic threat,” and particularly the
horrible things that Iranians are capable of doing to the world, here
is another sobering and neglected study that shows the reality may be
very different. This study, which would have made it to the headlines
if its result pointed a finger at Iran or the Muslim Middle East, was
carried out by the European Police Office (Europol) as its first major
report on terrorism in EU. According to the study, there were 498
incidents in eleven EU countries last year described as “terrorist
attacks.”  The Basque separatist group ETA carried out 136 terrorist
attacks one of which was deadly killing two in Madrid. The remaining
497 fortunately cost no human lives. How about the Islamic terrorists
then? According to Europol report, Islamists carried out ONE out of
the 498 terrorist attacks in the European Union in 2006. If you wish
to read the rest of this report or visit the Europol web site, click
on http://www.counterpunch.com/larsson04212007.html. My thanks to
Ahmet Karamustafa and Frank Flinn who both sent me this article.

* For some, like Professor John Lewis, facts seem to have little to do
with reality. Professor Lewis will deliver a talk titled “No
Substitute for Victory” at George Mason University, on Tuesday April
24, advocating a US attack on Iran.  For event details see
www.theobjectivestandard.com/events.asp.  He has suggested connections
between Iran and the 9/11 tragedy and advocated a nuclear attack on
Iran using Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a model. Such an attack would be
a genocide. Please speak up.  If you are in the vicinity, or have
friends who live in the vicinity, please attend and support our
friends at CASMII ( the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military
Intervention in Iran) next Tuesday at GMU as they leaflet at the event
and raise questions about Mr. Lewis’s “facts.” Location: The Johnson
Center Cinema is located at 4400 University Drive, a short distance
from Ox Road (Route 123), which also intersects Braddock Road nearby.

* Mr. Lewis does not seem to be the only one taking genocide lightly.
This week, Senator McCain, who many, regardless of their political
leanings, might have viewed as a mature and thoughtful politician,
found bombing Iran funny. Noticing the effect of his joke, however,
the Senator may not be laughing anymore:
http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/apr/20/new_ad_slams_mccain_for_bomb_iran_song

Relief from Current Events

Cyrus the Greats Palace at Pasargadae.

Cyrus the Great's Palace at Pasargadae.

* This window has been heavily focussed on current events. Let us close with some fun cultural and artistic issues. To begin with, here is a historical breakthrough. New traces appear to have been found of Cyrus the Great! Here is an article on that courtesy of my friend Pamela Barmash. Thanks Pamela:
http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=7079
* Iranian women are the heart beat of modern Iran. With their writing, teaching, art work, activism and more, they are major contributors to
reform inside the country and ambassadors of peace to the world.
Tonight, I send you the beautiful images of a recent exhibition by a
wonderful Iranian woman painter Farah Notash who currently works and
teaches in Iran and has exhibited her art work in many parts of the
world. Notash works with many different media articulating her views
on a wide range of subjects from gender, and nature, to heavenly
banquets. Click here for a show of her art: Farah Notash Art Show.

Another beautiful painting by Farah Notash (click the link above for more of her work).

Another beautiful painting by Farah Notash (click the link above for more of her work).

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 26

The Alborz Mountains of northern Iran, with Mt. Damavand (the tallest mountain in Iran) rising in the distance (see below for many more incredible photos of Irans natural beauty).

The Alborz Mountains of northern Iran, with Mt. Damavand (the tallest mountain in Iran) rising in the distance (see below for many more incredible photos of Iran's natural beauty).

Dear All,

Yes, we missed a window altogether! The semester is coming to an end with lots of activity including course preparations, visits by the last speakers of the academic year, departmental duties, etc. My friend Alice Bloch and I had a repeat performance of “The Watching Heart: A Journey in Peace,” our Dance/Reading for Peace, last Friday on Washington University campus. A wonderful audience gave us a great response.

A few of you approached me with e-mail addresses of friends to be added to this list. Anywhere I go now, someone has a kind word about the Windows on Iran. I cannot thank you enough for your enthusiastic support. If you handed me a friend’s address after our performance but they did not yet receive this window, I apologize. The safest way is to reply to this message and give me the addresses you want to add.

Let’s get to the first item on Window 26 without further delay. I am working on reducing visual attachments with links so as not to make it hard for your home computers.

Iranian Musician Nominated for the Grammy Award

Grammy-nominated musician Hussain Alizadeh.

Grammy-nominated Iranian musician Hussain Alizadeh.

* Here is a good way to open any window! Listen to Lisa Mullins of PRI, The World, talking with Hussain Alizadeh the Iranian musician who was nominated for a Grammy Award for the third time. The clip is about 8 minutes long and includes a discussion of music as well as actual playing. The clip was sent to me by my friend Fariba Azarpour:
http://www.theworld.org/?q=taxonomy_by_date/2/20070404

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani protesting for womens rights in Iran.

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, winner of the "Best Research Book on Women" in Iran award, is an activist, journalist, and translator. She is an editor of the journals Jens-i Dovom and Fasl-i Zanan and helped establish both the Women's Cultural Center and the Feminist Tribune.

The Iranian Women’s Movement

* Despite pressure from the Iranian government, the feminist movement in Iran is alive and well. So are its chroniclers inside and outside Iran. My friend Nayereh Tohidi has just sent word on this year’s winner of “the Best Research Book on Women” in Iran. Thank you Nayereh Jan! The prize has gone to the Persian translation by Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani – herself a noted feminist – of the book The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression by Eliz Sanasarian Professor of Political Science, USC College. Congratulations to the author, translator, and the tireless Iranian feminists working in Iran! I have an additional reason to be delighted. Years ago Eliz and I were highschool friends in Shiraz.


More Visual delight on Iran, on the occasion of Nowruz

* The Iranian New Year celeberations usually end on the 13th day of the first month in the Iranian calendar Farvardin (Farvardin 1st usually corresponds to March 21st). The 13th day of the New Year is called Sizdah Bedar. On that day, the entire country is out picnicing. Here, the Iranian American community holds onto the nostalgic feelings revived with Nowruz celeberations for some time. Slides and clips about Iran keep circulating. Here is a short video of scenes from Iran: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpdkC0XuSaY

* Since our last window, Iran has released the 15 captured Britons. You
know all the news there is to know about this incident by now. So,
instead of news headlines, I give you an interesting analysis of the
situation written jointly by Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval
Postgraduate School and author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts
Within Islam Will Shape the Future
, and Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow
at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Hidden Iran:
Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic
. Both authors are very
familiar with the region and have impressive academic credentials.
They have called their essay “What We Can Learn From Britain About
Iran?” here is the link:
http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/iranian-question/38127-what-we-can-learn-britain-about-iran.html

More Visual Information about Iran

* A nice slide show of natural scenery distributed by my friend Bahar
Bastani: http://youtube.com/watch?v=oHEkSFPB9nk&mode=related&search=

A beautiful garden in Esfahan (Isfahan) (click on the youtube video above to see many more breath-taking photos from Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Alborz Mountains).

A beautiful garden in Esfahan (Isfahan) (click on the youtube video above to see many more breath-taking photos from Iran, from the Persian Gulf to the Alborz Mountains).

* A clip on an exhibition in the British Museum about the ancient
Persian empire. The film underlines cooperation between Iranians and
Britons…perhaps a good antidote to the recent movie “300”. The clip
was sent by my friend Behfar Dianati:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9tBfD-d2fc&mode=related&search

The Cyrus Cylinder--the worlds first declaration of human rights.

The Cyrus Cylinder (539BCE)--the world's first declaration of human rights, which among other things allowed for religious freedom in the territories that he conquered.

* And a neat short film on paragliding by an Iranian pilot posted on
youtube from Tehran:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=co5Tg6Utyd8&mode=related&search=

More on Current Issues:

* My friend Nadir Sadeqi – of CASMII – continues to disseminate
information in an effort to stop sanction and/or military action
against Iran. Here is a list he has put together on recent attempts by
the British and the U.S. to conduct covert operations in Iran (of
particular interest to those who migh have wondered why the Iranians
might have felt defensive about the British in Iranian waters):
http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/1810
* On a different note, the US seems to be working to build a
relationship with Iranians:
http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=March&x=20070330105645ndyblehs0.7631647&id=nl20070404

* Can the release of the Britons help us understand the political moves
of the current Iranian government?
http://www1.wsvn.com/news/articles/world/MI43786/

Last Visual Delight:

A Painting by Nargis Chalak (click on the link below for more of her work).

A Painting by Nargis Chalak (click on the link below for more of her work).

* I said there will be fewer attachments. But we can’t close this window without the time honored tradition of visiting a young Iranian painter. Click here for some beautiful works by Nargis Chalak: Nargis Chalak Art Show.  I wish you all a very nice 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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