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Archive for the ‘film’ Category

Windows on Iran 51

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran.

A beautiful shot of a frozen waterfall in the Khorasan province of Northeastern Iran (see the link below for more pictures from this striking natural wonder).

Dear All,

I hope you are having a great summer. The St. Louis weather has been exceptionally cooperating — so far. For those of you who are experiencing a hot summer, I will start this window with a cooling visual delight from Iran:

Frozen Waterfall

* Last winter, in the province of Khorasan in North East of Iran, a huge waterfall froze. Behnaz Seyedi, a female Iranian photographer, took advantage of the natual art display and took the following photographs. Please click here: Frozen Waterfall of Khorasan. Enjoy!

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Iranian Women Inventors Shining in International Competition!

* Bagging 12 gold, five silver and six bronze medals, Iranian women inventors gained the first place among 25 countries participating at the international event, held in the South Korean capital of Seoul from May 8 to 10, 2008. Among their inventions: surgical equipments and electricity generators. In this prestigious international event, Iranian female inventors competed with participants from 25 countries including France, Switzerland, Japan, Romania, and Australia and got the first place. For the full article please visit: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=168969.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

Iranian Maryam Eslami won the International Federation of Inventors' Associations (IFIA) Award for the surgical tool she invented that is used to repair the olecranon.

* The above news contradicts the images often circulating on the internet depicting Iranian women in frightening conditions. Please don’t get me wrong, there are a few items on the Iranian constitution which I would like to see changed. However, much of the “information” circulating about Iranian women on the web and in the popular media is often grossly inaccurate because it is published without proper scrutiny and verification. Basically, negative news comes across as “most probably true” and therefore not necessary to be questioned. Let me give you an example, an excruciating image showing the process of burying a woman from waist down in the ground to be stoned to death circulated on the web. When the Iranian President visited Columbia University, the image was enlarged and carried by some protesters. It has now turned out to be a scene from a movie called “The Stone.”

A 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone." Director Mahnaz Tamizi, actress Smadar Monsinos and her photo is to the right.

This infamous picture is actually a frame from the 1994 Dutch indie film entitled "The Stone," directed by Mahnaz Tamizi. The woman in the ground is an actress named Smadar Monsinos and a real photo of her is to the right.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real image.

The actress Smadar Monsinos (above) is the woman featured in the frame (on the left) from the indie Dutch movie "The Stone." This particular frame from this movie is frequently used by critics of Iran as if it were a real historical image.

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Time out with Art work by Iranian Women

* Enjoying creativity of artists has a great healing quality. Let us move on from the fictional “stoning” image to actual art work by Iranian women, their creativity with clay. Here is an exhibit of amazing pottery work by Iranian women. Click on the link below…and enjoy: http://www.jadidonline.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Women_sofalgari_eng_test/sofalgari_high.html.

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Current Events

* The past ten days or so have been tense and rather worrisome with fiery statements and grim predictions of a possible military assault on Iran by the United States and/or Israel. Cooler heads seem to be at work to insert a note of sanity into the discussion.

* For those who think U.S. and Israel have no choice but attack Iran, I recommend a very insightful recent article written by Shlomo Ben-Ami, vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace and former foreign minister of Israel and Trita Parsi president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US. The article, published yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor is titled: “The alternative to an Israeli attack on Iran.” Here is the link:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0702/p09s01-coop.html.

* Iranian top politicians sound more positive in the past couple of days as well. In an interview with the Associated Press, the Iranian Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was considering the package presented by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana on behalf of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. He praised as “very constructive” Solano’s response to Iran’s proposals on the subject. Mottaki said he saw “significant capacities” being explored in the latest round of talks that were not present earlier. Mr. Mottaki is in New York for talks at the United Nations. He hinted there has been diplomatic progress on easing tensions with the West at a time of heightened concern. To read the full interview, visit: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/5474.

* The truth is neither war nor sanctions solve problems. They both kill innocent individuals, and postpone processes of positive social change and evolution. It is time to realize that as a large, complex, and vibrant society, Iran has plenty to offer the region and the world. And that the country must be engaged in a serious and constructive manner.

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Women at Work in Iran

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

Despite what the mainstream U.S. media will often lead you to believe, women in Iran are very active in society and are well-represented in every major field of work. Above is a (female) doctor delivering a newborn in a Tehran hospital. Also included in the picture show (linked on the left) is Iranian women firefighters, computer technicians, factory workers, and artists.

* Since we have been focused almost entirely on Iranian women in this issue, I would like to close this window with a slide show of very recent images of Iranian women at work in all segments of the society. Please click here: Women at Work in Iran.

Till the next window, have a wonderful summer and a great weekend!

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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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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Windows on Iran 24

Esfahan (or Isfahan) (above), click on the link at the end of this 'Window' to see many more stunningly beautiful pictures of the city of Esfahan, its gardens, and historical sites.

Esfahan (or Isfahan) (above), click on the link at the end of this 'Window on Iran' to see many more stunningly beautiful pictures of the city of Esfahan, its gardens, and historical sites.

Dear All,

I hope you are well. Window number 24 on Iran comes with a bit of
delay. End of March is the busiest time in the semester. Departmental
responsibilites are growing. Teaching is going on full force. Now, add
public speaking and local outreach. In other words, all is well!

I wish I could say the same for the current news about Iran:

* On Saturday March 27, U. N. Security Council passed its Resolution
1747.  In this resolution, the Security Council builds on its previous
decision to impose sanctions on Tehran by banning exports from Iran
and imposing a freeze on the financial assets of 28 individuals and
entities. After lengthy negotiations, the text takes into account some
of the concerns expressed by South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, such
as the acknowledgment that all parties to the NPT, including Iran,
have a right to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The resolution
also includes mechanisms for future negotiation with Iran and
reference to a nuclear-free Middle East. The mood inside Iran is
anxious.

* American mainstream media keeps alive the possibility of an Iranian
“role” in American casualities through roadside bombs in Iraq. Today’s
NY Times (March 27) has an entire page devoted to it, complete with
technical details and images. Buried inside the article are
significant pieces of information that undermine the whole claim:
“most bombing attacks and most American deaths have been caused by
less sophisticated devices favored by Sunni insurgents, not Shiite
militias linked to Iran.” Further down, unnamed experts on military
matters are quoted to the effect that “the weapons could be made in
Iraq.” The article also has hints about some Iranians being positively
” involved in economic and social programs in Iraq.” There is a tiny
refence to the possibility that “other countries in the region, too,
were supplying insurgents in Iraq” and the fact that the current U.S.
administration might be “using the E.F.P. issue to distract attention
from the difficulties in Iraq.”  Alas, what the general readership
will see, yet again, is an image of a “hostile and dangerous” Iran. I
wonder how many will remember, as they read, that we live in the
western hemisphere that owns the biggest military industrial complex
in the world and supplies many countries with weapons.

Come See Us Perform!

Because we must nurture the possibilities of peace which live in our
persons, my friend Dr. Alice Bloch and I have prepared an hour of
dance and reading (I read, Alice is a great dancer) which we will
perform this coming Thursday night, March 29, at 7:30 at the Central
Reform Congregation in St. Louis. It is a two woman (one Muslim, one
Jewish) celebration of friendship, love for peace, and resistance to
aggression of all kinds. If you are in the vicinity of St. Louis, stop
by to see us perform!

"Happy Nowrouz," a beautiful piece of calligraphy by Reza Tanha.

"Happy Nowrouz," a beautiful piece of calligraphy by Reza Tanha.

Visual Delight

* If you thought exquisite Persian calligraphy was a thing of the past, think again! Here is one (right) from master calligrapher currently living in Japan, Reza Tanha. Thanks Reza Jan! I hope you don’t mind me sharing this treasure with a few thousand friends! I mentioned last week Iranians send around very interesting Nowruz greeting cards wishing each other a Happy New Year. Since you just viewed one with exquisite calligraphy, I thought to include one with miniature painting. Below is a Nowruz card with a miniture painting from the most important Persian epic Shahnameh, “The Book of Kings,” composed in 10th century CE. The manuscript illustration that you see was done in the 17th century.

Nowrouz Card with image from Shahnameh (Book of Kings).

Nowrouz Card with a miniature painting from Shahnameh (Book of Kings).

* In the last window, I sent you the link to an excellent critique of
the movie ‘300’ that demonizes the ancient Iranian civilization. The
link does not seem to have worked, sorry. Here it is again:
http://www.iranian.com/Daryaee/2007/March/300/index.html

* Talking about Persian art, here is very interesting information about
the advance knowledge of math by Iranian architects:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070223/sc_nm/architecture_patterns_dc&printer=1;_ylt=AtoYENMhwvtwKSYZKfww5IgiANEAPart

Ahmad Shamlu, one of the greatest Iranian/Persian poets of the twentieth century.

Ahmad Shamlu, one of the greatest Iranian/Persian poets of the twentieth century.

* One of the great poets of twentieth century Iran, Ahmad Shamlu, spent a year at Berkeley, California a number of years ago. He wrote a Safarnameh “travel account” in Persian a part of which has been recorded on tape. Here is the link to a recording in Shamlu’s own voice (for those of you who know Persian):
http://www.peiknet.com/1385/hafteh/01esfand/page/38shamlu.htm

More Visual Delight

Instead of our regular painting exhibit which usually end these windows, I would like to give you a VERY beautiful new slide show of Isfahan. Click here (Isfahan Pictures) for a wonderful series of images from the historic city of Isfahan in Iran, courtesy of my wonderful cousin Abe Massoudi. I tried to get the slides to rotate (unsuccessfully). You can right click on each slide to move forward. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful rest of the 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 23

The historical Persian King Xerxes(above), who bares no resemblence to the offensive depiction of him in the Hollywood movie 300. See below for more on this movie and its historically inaccurate portrayal of King Xerxes and the Persian Empire.

The real historical Persian King Xerxes (above), who, notice, bares absolutely no resemblance to the bizarre and, ultimately, offensive depiction of him in the Hollywood movie '300.' See below for more on this movie and its grossly historically inaccurate portrayal of Xerxes and the Persian Empire in general.

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasure to open another window, one that greets the Spring. Iranians everywhere in the world are now busy preparing for Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, 1386! For my Nowrouz gift to you, click here: Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration). I hope it gives you a fun visual tool for teaching about Nowrouz. Happy Nowrouz/spring to you All.
I receive daily requests to subscribe to this list. Thank you for your interest. Please allow us a day or two before getting your first window.  If you have been added to the list by mistake, please write us a short message and we will take you off.
Hollywood’s Nowrouz Gift to Iranians

A scene from the movie 300. Far from being a harmless Hollywood thriller, this movie is a blatant piece of propaganda that contains numerous historic inaccuracies that all conveniently serve to demonize the Persians and glorify Sparta (the symbol of the Western, free world). Please click on the link to Dr. Touraj Daryaees critique for comprehensive analysis.

A scene from the movie "300," with a utterly bizarre and distinctly 'othering' depiction of the Persian King Xerxes (right) and King Leonidas (left). Far from being a harmless Hollywood thriller, this movie is a blatant propaganda piece that contains numerous historical inaccuracies which all conveniently serve to simultaneously demonize the Persians and glorify the Spartans (the symbol of the Western, free world). Please click on the link below to read Dr. Touraj Daryaee's superb critique of '300.'

* If you are an Iranian, you will have a hard time deciding which misrepresentation of yourself to expose! This year it has been made easy for Iranians. They get their New Year’s gift in the form an ominous movie called “300” that portrays Persians / Iranians as “inarticulate monsters, raging towards the West, trying to rob its people of their basic values.” The movie “demeans the population of Iran and anesthetizes the American population to war in the Middle East” in the words of Touraj Daryaee, Professor of Ancient History (Californian State U., Fullerton). In a review essay called: “Go tell Spartans How “300” misrepresents Persians in history,” Prof. Daryaee critiques the movie eloquently. For example, in the movie, the historical quote “We are the mothers of men,” is addressed to a Persian brute (obviously blind to gender issues). According to Daryaee, this sentence had nothing to do with Persians, but rather was part of a completely Greek debate on the position of women, regarding the fact that Athenian women were forced to stay in the andron (inner sanctum of the house) so that their reputations would not be tarnished. Spartan women were different than the Athenian women, but Persian women of this period had more freedoms than either the Spartans or Athenians and not only participated in politics, but also joined the army, owned property, and ran businesses.

1-21).

A more historically faithful depiction of the Persian King Xerxes (or, also a times referred to as 'Ahasuerus' ) with his Jewish wife Esther (of the 'Book of Esther' in the Hebrew Scriptures fame, see Esther I: 1-21).

As a New Year’s gift to the Iranian Community, please share Prof. Daryaee’s excellent critique of the movie with students, friends, and relatives. It might feel as if we are trying to carve a tunnel in a huge mountain with a plastic spoon. But every single person counts. My thanks to Zari Taheri for sharing this valuable link:
http://www.iranian.com/Daryaee/2007/March/300/index.html

A Threat to All of us!

Perhaps influenced by movies of the above kind, a couple of days ago Senator Obama gave his Nowrouz gift to the Iranians by calling Iran “a threat to all of us.” An astonishingly vague, and dangerous, assertion. Please note that in the past fifty years or so, American politicians have worked to persuade the public that: Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Panama, Nicaragua, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq were all threats to American and world security. Magically, Saudi Arabia, which produced the majority of the 9/11 hijackers, sponsors Wahhabism, and prevents its own women from driving on the streets, appears not to be a threat.

Chaharshanbe Suri

We need a break. How about watching a ‘dangerous’ Iranian family
celebrating a pre-Nowrouz event in their neighborhood? It is done on
the last Wednesday of the year by jumping over fire while asking for
its symbolic “color and warmth.” Click here: Chaharshanbeh Suri.

Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration) Haftsin (click on the Nowrouz link above for more details).

A Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year celebration) Haftsin (click on the Nowrouz link above for more details).

Regime Change

* I know this is supposed to be a New Year Window. Still, Iranians are
celebrating it with talk of regime change in the background. The
concept is familiar. The people of Chile experienced it. In fact, they
had their own September 11 tragedy with an almost similar number of
casualties (3,000). On September 11, 1973  a CIA sponsored General
Augusto Pinochet conducted a coup, seized total power, and established
a military dictatorship which lasted until 1990. At the time of his
death in 2006, around 300 criminal charges in Chile were still pending
against Pinochet for human rights abuses and embezzlement during his
rule.

* I want to share an Iranian regime change with you that took place in
early 1950s. A democratically elected Iranian prime minister Mohammad
Mosaddeq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mossadegh)  worked to nationalize
the Iranian oil industry that had been under the control of a British
company. The contracts gave Iranians next to nothing while the British
were laughing all the way to the bank. Mosaddeq was overthrown in a
joint British-American coup. Here is what the American people read on
August 6, 1954 in a New York Times’ editorial: “Underdeveloped
countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy
cost that must be paid by one of their number [Iran] which goes
berserk with fanatical nationalism.” There is another lesson in the
overthrow of Mosaddeq, one that the New York times editorial does not
mention. Be skeptical when people are presented to you as “fanatical.”
They may simply be trying to take control of their own resources. Here
is a suggested reading on this regime change if you like to see a
detailed analysis:

Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953
Coup in Iran: A Joint U.S.-British Regime Change Operation in 1953
that Holds Lessons for Today
(Syracuse University Press, 2004).
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/index.htm

Iranian Americans on Stage

* You have not been really integrated into a culture unless people can
laugh at you! Iranian American standing comedians are working on that.
Here is a clip from Maz Jobrani sent by my friend Hayrettin Yocesoy.
Thanks Hayrettin, this is culturally interesting, and funny too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADU1lhEb1X0&mode=related&search

* Iranian Americans are getting themselves on another kind of stage too,
that of American politics. Beverly Hills eyes Jimmy Delshad, an
Iranian American, for mayor. Here is the report, if you like to read
more: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7770255&ft=1&f=1003

Headlines in Iran

Iran has been ready to suspend uranium enrichment, although, not as a
pre-condition to negotiations. The former Iranian president Mohammad
Khatami urged Iran to compromise on the nuclear issue to avoid further
crisis: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070312/wl_afp/irannuclearpolitics_070312113740

Visual Delight

A painting by Nilufar Baghaei (click on the link to the left for more!).

A painting by Nilufar Baghaei (click on the link to the left for more!).

Let’s see if we can revive the spirit of Nowrouz through meeting another delightful visual artist. This is a young Iranian painter and graphic artist, Nilufar Baghaei (b. 1969). Nilufar’s work is heavily inspired by children’s drawings the themes of which she explores creatively and colorfully. There you are, three themes most relevant to Nowrouz: children, creativity, and color.  To Watch Nilufar Baghaei’s art show, click here Nilufar Baghaei Art, enjoy!

Have a great spring, and see you next week.

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 stunning view from the shore of Kish Island, Iran. Kish Island is a very popular tourist attraction in Iran. Please see below for more photos.

A stunning view from the shore of Kish Island, Iran. Kish Island is a very popular tourist attraction in Iran. Please see below for more photos.

Dear All,

We have cause for celeberation! I know, it seems strange, but I have my reasons. First, this is the 20th window! We have lasted this long. I don’t know how I have managed but here it is. Perhaps mostly because you have been cheering me on (even though I don’t get to write back thank you notes). Here is a big THANK YOU to you All.

Second, the demand for these windows has been unbelievable. In the past two weeks alone about 100 new subscribers have been added to the listserv.  I would like to acknowledge, again, the help I get from
JoAnn Achelpohl in adding new names to the list. Do please continue to forward these messages to others and if you have anything I can share with onlookers, please share with me.

Visual Delights

To celeberate the 20th window, I have a gift for you: a photograph by
a teen age Iranian boy called Shabab Golchin. He took the photo, which
he called “love” in northern Iran for a UNESCO photography
competition. I am sending you the photo, courtesy of my friend Zari
Taheri. By the way, Shabab got the first place in the competition. You
will agree when you see it!

Photo entitled "Love" by Shabab Golchin. This photo was taken in northern Iran and won UNESCO's photo competition.

Photo entitled

A series of black and white bleak images from very poor areas of Iran
have been circulating, titled “Modern Iran” wih an exclamation mark.
Yes, those poor areas exist. But so do beautifully designed affluent
places. Take a look at Kish Island in the south. It is now one of the

most popular tourist attractions in Iran. Click here to see some photos

of Kish Island: Kish Island in Southern Iran.

Some young Iranians enjoying themselves at a mall on Kish Island.

Some young Iranians enjoying themselves at a mall on Kish Island.

A large mall on Kish Island.

A large mall on Kish Island.

Current Issues:

The American public is not ready for a confrontation with Iran. The
hawks in the administarion are feeling the pressure. Article after
article point to the fact that the attempt to demonize Iran – as the
source of American deaths in Iraq – is not working. This theory was
introduced to replace the scenario “Iran, a nuclear threat to the
world” because that was not working either. The conflict no longer
feels inevitable. Americans do not want another war. The war machine
works by presenting the war as inevitable. But that is not what
Americans are saying. Just take a look at the following articles, and
PLEASE circulate. In a democracy like U.S., the will of the people is
the most vibrant source of hope.

Here is the most critical piece concerning the credibility of the US
claim that Iran supplies the Iraqi resurgency with weapons. I share
this piece with you courtesy of my husband Ahmet Karamustafa.
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=67&ItemID=12139

So, we do pull out. What happens? A very interesting article by the
independent journalist Robert Dreyfuss, sent to me by my friend Frank
Flinn, discusses the various scenarios of an Iraq after an American
pull out and argues that the fear of a disaster in the absence of US
is not justified :
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0703.dreyfuss.html

For an interesting discussion of the debates about the nuclear issue
in Iran, click here: Internal Iranian debate over nuclear issue.

Many specialists think that there is room for peaceful exchange with
Iran. The leading IR theorist Fukuyama is among them. He proposes
Serious Iran Diplomatic Incentives.
http://niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=676&Itemid=2

The American poeple’s skepticism is not misplaced. Despite the
administrations insistence that things are different this time, the
exact same line of thought is being pursued. Watch for yourself:
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=4d4e62654f

Forough Farrokhzad  (1935-1967)

Forough Farrokhzad

Forough Farrokhzad

It is a long time since we have had the time to open these windows on Persian literary and artistic figures. Last week, however, was a very special time. On February 13, many Iranians commemorated the 40th anniversary of the death of Forough Farroukhzad, one of the most vibrant, contraversial, and loved poets of contemporary Iran. Farrokhzad wrote with courage about herself as a woman, but her work did more than fight for gender issues. It gave Iran some of its most lyrical and complex  poetry in recent times. In addition to composing poetry, Farrokhzad tried her talent at writing film scripts, directing, and making documentaries. On February 13, 1967 she died in a car accident. Iranians refer to her affectionately as javdaneh Forough “The Eternal Forough.” Her collections of poems sell thousands (her last collection called Another Birth has been translated into
English). I wish I had the time to gift you a translation of one of her long poems. As it is, we have to make do with an excerpt. I attach a stanza from a beautifully crafted poem called “Let us have faith in
the beginning of the cold season.” Please click here: Forough Farrokhzad “Let us haveFaith in the Beginning of the Cold Season”.

I wish you all a great week.

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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