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Archive for the ‘gardens’ Category

Windows on Iran 49 / 50

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

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

Dear All,

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

Personal News:

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

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

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

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

Political:

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

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

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

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

Young Iranian American Scientist on CNN:

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

Harvard Scholar wishes to be buried in Isfahan

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

A Cypress Tree more than 4,000 years old!

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

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

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

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

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

A cute little Iranian girl enjoying the pomegranate harvest.

A cute little Iranian girl enjoying the pomegranate harvest.

Visual Delight

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

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

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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This is one of the many very interesting photos from Hoda Alavi's new photography exhibit entitled "Painting with Light." Please click on the link to the left for many more photos from her recent exhibit.

This is only one of the many very interesting photos from Hoda Alavi's new photography exhibit, entitled "Painting with Light." Please click on the link to the left for many more photos from her recent exhibit.

Dear All!

Greetings! I am back to wish you all a wonderful 2008 — and to open another window on Iran.

I hope you have had a peaceful holiday. In the spirit of celebration, let’s open this window with festive images of light and color. The young Iranian photographer Hoda Alavi uses urban landscape as her canvas and paints with light. Let’s visit her latest photo exhibit. Click on here to view it: Hoda Alavi Photography Exhibit.

Article on Iranian Women

* While on the subject of women, I have a very interesting article for you from the Guardian (Jan. 9) courtesy of Amir Companieh. The essay encourages readers to forget about stereotypes and look instead at the reality of women’s vibrant and organized activism in Iran: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2237579,00.html.

Thousands of women and men gathered at Tehran University to demand equality in the Justice system. Despite what the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe will often tell you, there is a strong womens movement in Iran. To see more photos from this protest please click on the picture. (Image courtesy of www.kosof.com).

Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani (with the bullhorn) leads thousands of women and men gathered at Tehran University to demand equality in the Justice system. Despite what the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe will often tell you, there is currently a strong (and growing!) women's movement in Iran. To see more photos from this protest and others please click on the picture above (image courtesy of http://www.kosof.com).

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* Still on the subject of women, take a look at images of Iranian women chess players competing for the national championship. Chess is an extremely popular hobby in Iran: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article1036.

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Recommended Reading

* Over the holidays, I read an excellent book which I recommend to anyone interested in better understanding the complexities of the strategic games played by various regional and outside forces in relation to Iran and its neighboring countries. Authored by Trita Parsi and published by Yale University Press, the book is called Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.

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The Persian Gulf Incident

* Trita’s book is, in fact, a great tool for helping us understand that many a piece of shocking news about the region has to be placed in its full strategic context to be understood better. A perfect example of that is the recent news of the “aggressive maneuvers” by Iranian boats near American warships in the Persian Gulf. The incident, which many of you have been asking about, seemed totally baffling. Why would Iran provoke the massive American military machine sitting on three of its borders? According to an article sent to me by Daniel Pourkesali, “The list of those who are less than fully confident in Pentagon’s video/audio mash up of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself.” You can read the full article at this link: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/degrees-of-confidence-on-us-iran-naval-incident/?hp

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* Daniel also distributed a video supplied by the Iranian Navy which suggests that the incident was a simple and routine exchange in the Gulf: http://www.politube.org/show/341 [or click on the video below to view it].

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* Today’s Washington Post, contains an article that supports Dr. Pourkesali’s view suggesting “Iranian Boats May Not Have Made Radio Threat, Pentagon Says,” *check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/10/AR2008011000692.html?sub=AR&sid=ST2008011001831.

* Matt Miller, watching the world from Cairo where he is studying Arabic this semester, has sent another related piece by the historian and national security policy analyst, Gareth Porter who further supports the view that the initial report on the Iranian “aggressive” behavior has been unfounded. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011108J.shtml

There we are! More misinformation about Iran…and really scary misinformation at that!

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Iran Opens a Peace Museum

The new Tehran Peace Museum in Tehran City Park.

The new Tehran Peace Museum in Tehran City Park.

* Iran will open a peace museum to promote sentiments for peace in a culture that still remembers the pain of an 8-year war that started with Saddam’s aggression and led to his use of chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and Iranians. The museum which will soon open in Tehran City Park has the sculpture of a white dove at its entrance. While attributing imaginary violence to the culture is common, Christian Science Monitor’s exceptional attention to this museum is commendable. Not surprisingly, the tone of the article suggests that the museum is something of an aberration in a culture that “glorifies martyrdom.” It would be fantastic if the author of the article Scott Peterson would have the opportunity to take a trip to Iran. You can read the article on the Peace Museum in Iran at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1224/p01s03-wome.html?page=1.

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A Concert of Sufi Music in Tehran

* Iranians love live music. When master musicians perform, it is common to line up outside the concert hall from the night before the box office opens to make sure you can obtain tickets. I would like to close this window with a ten minute clip from a Sufi music performance at Vahdat Hall, a major concert hall in Tehran. The concert was sent to me by a dear friend, Nakhostin Javidani: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17wue10S0l0&feature=related [or click the video below to view it].

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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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An up-close look at the beautiful Safran fields of Khorasan. Please see below for many more striking photos of the annual Safran harvest in Northeastern Iran.

An up-close look at the beautiful Safran fields of Khorasan. Please see below for many more striking photos from the annual Safran harvest in Northeastern Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice and restful Thanksgiving. If you have added a friend’s name to these windows, please give us a few days before we could add new names to our mailing list.

And now, let us open window 44 without further delay with recent images from Iran.

Visual Delight

* Iran is one of the major producers of “zafaran” or “safran” in the world. To see beautiful scenes of working on safran fields in the North Eastern province of Khorasan, click here to view them: Safran Fields of Khorasan. My thanks to Dr. Bastani for circulating these wonderful images.

An Iranian woman harvesting Safran in the fields of Khorasan (please click the link above from more beautiful photos).

An Iranian woman harvesting Safran in the fields of Khorasan (please click the link above from more beautiful photos).

Yahoo Removes Iran

* The people of Iran can no longer register as “Iranian” if they open a Yahoo account because the name of Iran as a country has been removed from its list. Of course, as in many similar actions, this has no effect or exerts no pressure on the Iranian government. It helps cut off the people of Iran from the outside world. Iranians are number four bloggers in the world. E-mail is also a very important way for them to keep connected. If you wish to object to this, please visit: http://www.petitiononline.com/yahoo07/petition.html

The Efforts to Prevent a Military attack on Iran have intensified

* Letter to Missouri Lawmakers: Here in St. Louis, my tireless activist friend and colleague Andrew Wimmer of the Center for Theology and Social Analysis at St. Louis University has formed a new campaign: SILENCE = WAR. Please visit the group’s emerging website: http://www.silenceiswar.org/ and support their efforts to speak up for peace. As their first effort, the group has written to the two Missouri senators asking if they would “take an unprovoked military assault against Iran off the table.” And if they would withdraw their support for the preparations for such an assault underway in Missouri as Boeing in St. Charles builds and delivers a new 30,000 pound bunker buster bomb that would be dropped by B2 bombers based at Whiteman Air Force Base outside Kansas City. The letter requests a written response by December 3. To see the content of the full letter, visit: http://www.ctsastl.org/Iran/bond_iran.pdf.

* Another dear friend Jack Renard of St. Louis University was one of the first St. Louisans to respond to the above plea for peace with a letter of his own. Jack’s letter is so balanced, sincere, and insightful that I have asked his permission to share it with you in the hope that many use it as a model: http://www.ctsastl.org/Iran/renard_iran.pdf. Prof. Renard is a distinguished scholar of Islam with numerous book titles to his credit. Some of his works such Seven Doors to Islam: Spirituality and the Religious Life of the Muslims published by University of California, Berkeley are now classics. For his other works, visit his site at: http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/theology/faculty_renard.php.

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* Another important piece on the dangers of an attack on Iran is called “Hands Off Iran” by Chris Hedges. In this brief and insightful piece, Hedges lays out the implications of an unprovoked war against Iran: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071210/hedges.

The Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial

* Let’s take a break from war talk by a visit to another visual delight. Many think sculpture is among the art forms not commonly favored by Muslims. Well, the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial, this week, has enthralled art critics world wide. To read a short description and see photos of the sculptures, visit: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/nov/1218.html.

Fifth Annual Sculpture Tehran

An exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more information on the event and check out some of the other interesting exhibits as well).

Another exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more on the event and more photos of the exhibits).

Another exhibit at the Fifth Tehran Contemporary Sculpture Biennial (click the link below for more information on the event and check out some of the other interesting exhibits as well).

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Creative Attempts to Prevent a War: A Direct Line to Iran

* Most people passing the Boston Common’s Park Street T stop shrugged at the display: a red telephone with a retro design, symbolic of the hotline established between the White House and the Kremlin during the Cold War. It sat on a small table with a white table cloth and a sign out front, which proclaimed “Direct Line to Iran.” An MIT student stood to its left, listened in on headphones and provided English-Farsi translation. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/11/14/5205/.

The Enough Fear Campaign

* If you want to join a group of vibrant Iranians and Americans who have started an international effort to prevent war between the US and Iran, just visit the bi-lingual site “Enough Fear” at: http://enoughfear.org/. The organizers of the site collect and post photos of Americans and Iranians to demonstrate the solidarity between the peace makers in both countries. Do join, and make your own contribution, every click counts! (my thanks to Robert Connolly for sending this wonderful site).

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Saber Rattling us to the Next Disaster

* Mr. Daniel M Pourkesali, a U.S. Board member in Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran expresses concern that the danger of a U.S. military attack on Iran is far from over. In a meticulously documented piece, he mentions – among other things- that “according to a report published by The Observer [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2209036,00.html], US military officials are pressuring interrogators questioning Iraqi insurgents to press for incriminating evidence that points to Iran.” For the full article go to: http://iranian.com/main/blog/daniel-m-pourkesali/saber-rattling-us-next-disaster.

Sane Officers Oppose a War on Iran

* Just so we don’t despair totally, there are still many voices of sanity, some from the U.S. army, working hard to prevent a military campaign against Iran. To read a very interesting article on this, sent by Matt Miller, visit: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20071115_sane_officers_oppose_cheney/.

A painting by Farah Ossouli (please see the link on the left for more of her work).

A painting by Farah Ossouli (please see the link on the left for more of her work).

More Visual Delights

* Let us close this window with a slide show of recent paintings by a young Iranian woman artist Farah Ossouli. You have seen another of her exhibits in these windows. But this one is different. Please click here: Farah Ossouli Paintings. Enjoy.

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 garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

A beautiful garden of modern Tehran. Please click on the link below to see many other terrific photos from Iran.

Dear All,

I hope you have had a nice long weekend. I managed to salvage a few hours of the weekend to put together a new window on Iran for you. Let us get to Window 38 without further ado.

Musical Opening

Due to constant threat of a pending military strike on Iran, the Iranian American community is in deep stress. No one knows what is going to happen if the most powerful military force on the face of the earth really decides to strike. The example of Iraq is not reassuring. Lots of poems and songs about Iran and what it means to the Iranian American community get circulated everyday. Here is a one minute and twenty second slide show. Its name tells all “Iran: the Eternal Land of the Persians.” The melody in the background is asong called “Elahe-ye naz,” a big hit in the 60s and 70s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ0zx8XTEN8 (circulated by Daniel Pourkesali)

Haleh Esfandiari Leaves Iran

Here is a piece of important – and good – news which ought to help
cooling things down. However, I have not seen it in our popular media
yet. Iranian newspapers report that Haleh Esfandiari, who had been
freed from jail, has left the country last night. Great to know that
she will be reunited with her family soon.

The U.S. Official Reaction to Iran/IAEA Agreement

Last week, the International atomic energy agency ( IAEA) and Iran
reached an agreement about answering some crucial questions concerning
the Iranian nuclear program. The IAEA called it a breakthrough. This
agreement is particularly important not just because it gives the IAEA
access to certain documents that it has wanted to see but because a
timetable is set so the negotiations are not going to last
indefinitely. The U.S. government, which has used even a negative hint
form IAEA about Iran to push for more sanctions, dismissed this
agreement. In other words, if the agency reports anything negative, it
is evidence of Iran’s non-compliance. If it makes progress, they have
been fooled by Iran which is seeking time to make a bomb.

The Possible Attack on Iran

* None of the recent developments have brought a sense of relief to
those who follow the news of a possible attack on Iran. If anything,
this weekend papers have been particularly alarming. Matt Miller has
shared the UK Sunday times piece titled Pentagon “Three-Day Blitz”
Plan for Iran: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/090207A.shtml. The
supposed plan would involve hitting 1200 targets inside Iran with the
casualty figures (not often discussed by proponents of the idea) in
the millions. Here is an article that Paul Appell has shared. I do
hope that its findings do not reflect the reality of what the U.S.
government is up to. However, it has been written in a spirit of
activism for peace. It is in that spirit that I share it with you.
After all, this is the time to say that there are better ways to deal
with the Iran question that killing a couple of million Iranians and
sending the whole region up in flames. Here is the reference to the
article that Paul has kindly forwarded:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-a-rodman/how-i-learned-to-stop-wor_b_62830.html

* If you talk to individuals who have been alarmed by the “threat” that
Iran is posing to the world, remember:

1. Iran’s cooperation with the U.S. was crucial in overthrowing the
Taliban in Afghanistan
2. We have plenty of evidence to believe that the roadside bombs that
kill American soldiers are manufactured in Iraq. Starting as early as
a year and half ago, American troops have found many shops and
factories that make such bombs inside Iraq. Here is a U.S. Marine
Corps press release on the subject:
http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/templatereleaseview1/E017AB5105AC8A9D85257035004FC172?opendocument
3. The only countries in the region in which al-Qa’ideh does not have
freedom to operate are Iran and Turkey.
4. As President Karzai pointed out only a few weeks ago, Iran continues
to be a help and a support to Afghanistan in its efforts to stand up
to the Taliban (who are getting closer to power by the day).
5. President Ahmadinejad is an elected president who, as polls in Iran
show, stands zero chance of re-election. He is not a life-time
dictator who needs to be removed by military force.
6. Iran’s enrichment of uranium for its nuclear industry is not a breach
of the international law. What is important is to keep it under
control by IAEA. This is possible only if Iran stays in NPT (the Non
Proliferation Treaty) and its facilities get inspected regularly.

What did the Young Iranian Cyclist Say to Senator Lieberman?

Leslie Angeline, who had been fasting for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to meet with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline, who had been "fasting for peace" for twelve days, sits outside Senator Joseph Lieberman's waiting to be granted an audience with him about his aggressive stature towards Iran.

Leslie Angeline 50, mother of two, member of CodePink spent two weeks in Iran this summer. She loved the country which she found warm and friendly. When Leslie returned to the U.S. to advocate for diplomacy with Iran, Senator Lieberman was suggesting to bomb Iran. Leslie went on hunger strike, lost ten pounds and fainted but did not give up her goal of getting her message to the Senator. You can read about her here:    http://www.newhavenadvocate.com/blogs/home.cfm?aid=1602
When, finally, she got 15 minutes the senator, she took Ali the young Iranian bicyclist for peace with him. I think I should let you read the rest, in Leslie’s words:

He then allowed Ali, one of the Iranian Miles for Peace bicyclists, to join us. Ali spoke from his experience as a young man in Tehran’s student movement.  He said, “There is a growing student and feminist movement in Iran.  70% of the population is under the age of thirty. Every time Bush refers to us as the Axis of Evil, or a politician such as you threatens war or sanctions, our government uses this as an excuse to clamp down. 90% of the Iranian people want a different form of government.  The Iranian people like Americans.  Lieberman responded to this by saying he’s heard that “the two countries in the Middle East that like Americans are Israel and Iran!”   Ali continued, “The U.S. has been a democracy for three hundred years and you still have problems.  Iran’s democracy is new and fragile; please give us some time and we’ll take care of our own problems.”

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The Biggest Non-governmental Charity in Iran

From here in the U.S., it is hard to imagine that Iranians think about
things other than politics and conflict, that they are ordinary human
beings with the same problems and aspirations as anyone living
anywhere in the world. I thought it’ll be nice to read about the
Kahrizak Foundation which supports disabled elderly who lack financial
resources: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jun/1240.html (Thanks to my
friend Parinaz Massumzadeh for circulating the information).

Iranian Women Athletes

Iranian woman race car driver.

Iranian woman race car driver.

Let us close this window with some beautiful images of Iranian women in sports:

* Iranian women drivers are back in the car race scene this September: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article490.
* In fencing, women are working to improve the training conditions so they can compete internationally: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article495.
* In soccer they have been training hard and have achieved success in Asia: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article496.

Let us hope that the peace is holding, and the news is good, when I
send you the next window.
Have a great week.
Best,

Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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The Art Gallery in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

The Art Gallery in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures of the modern Tehran that you will not see in the mainstream U.S. media).

Dear All,

Greetings! I am back in St. Louis now getting ready for the academic year. I hope you are enjoying what is left of the summer. If you have written recently, do please give me a few days to reply. I am getting back into the swing of things and have tackled the piled-up mail and e-mail only recently.

It is good to be back and to send you one of the regular large windows, Window on Iran – 35. So, let’s get started without much ado:

The Best in the World

Iranian Americans of all backgrounds and political persuasions take a
lot of pride in educational achievements in Iran. The latest clip of
film (one minute) circulating in the community quotes the chair of the
department of electrical engineering at Stanford as describing the
department of electrical engineering in Sharif University in Tehran to
be the best in the world!  http://youtube.com/watch?v=s957W6jomBc

Iran’s Role in Afghanistan

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, President Hamid Karzai of
Afghanistan, in a feat of courage unprecedented for US-supported local
leaders,  contradicted the US claims that Iranian arms were helping to
erode the security situation in Afghanistan. He described Iran as “a
helper and a solution:”

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“Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that
we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics
in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in the interview conducted Saturday. He
went on to say that Afghanistan and Iran had “very, very good, very,
very close relations. … We will continue to have good relations with
Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.”

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Here is a brief commentary: If you have wondered why President  Karzai
should be so ungrateful as to make such  embarrassing comments about
his American friends, the simple explanation is that he is the one who
has to face the Taliban and the al-Qa’ideh on the ground. He knows who
in the region will come to his help. Furthermore, Iran rushes to
Karzai’s help in facing these extremist groups because they are its
sworn enemies as well. If that is not enough, they infest the region
with their narcotic trade. Iran loses about 300 soldiers annually
preventing drug dealers from crossing into the country. Finally,
instability in Afghanistan is not good for Iran which has ethnic
populations close to the border, and which would love to see economic
ties (rather than ethnic uprisings) on the two sides of the border.

All right, call this one the happy window! I have more good news:

Americans Wage Peace on Iran

* It is unfortunate that we hear a lot more about war-mongers than those
who wage peace. The truth is a large number of peace loving Americans
are devoting their time and life precisely to that, chief among them
CodePink. When Leslie Angeline of CodePink started her fast to get the
attention of Senator Lieberman who had promoted a war with Iran,
little did she know that she would be unleashing a new campaign to
stop the next war now. But that’s precisely what has happened. Click
on the link below to read about CodePink’s Cities for Peace in Iran:
http://codepinkdc.blogspot.com/2007/07/codepink-launches-cities-for-peace-in.html

* Also, the Virginia Anti-War (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender Newspaper
organized a People’s Peace Delegation to Iran in response to a
suggestion by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention
in Iran (CASMII). The five member delegation traveled over 1,750
kilometers during its 12 day trip in Iran and returned to the U.S. on
July 31. Here it is a picture and more details:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1343.html

Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender newspaper organized a People's Peace Delegation to Iran recently.

The Nuclear Issue — a correction and some comments

* A dear friend who shared window 32 with his friends has brought a
couple of queries to my attention. Since they pertain to the nuclear
issue, I thought of sharing them – and my responses – with you. In
that window, I contrasted the U.S. and three other countries
(Pakistan, Israel and India) with Iran in that they have not become
members of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). The critic pointed out
that this is partially incorrect, the U.S. is a signatory to the
treaty. S/he is right. This is a mistake on my part, and it must have
occurred because of the abundance of discussions on the ways in which
the U.S. is in breech of that treaty. Here is the latest example of
that from N.Y. Times:
http://ploughshares.org/news.php?a=4&b=0&c=0&id=438
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is officially a signatory
of the NPT. I’d like to correct the mistake.

* The same reader asks if we can be certain that the Iranians do not
have a weapon’s program. My answer is that our only means of gaining
that certainty is to ask countries to become members of the NPT and
stay open to surprise inspection. Iran has done that and no evidence
has been found. If our reaction to that is going to be “You have done
what is required but we still do not believe you because you are
Iran,” we are proposing to dismantle international organizations and
regulations and act on instinct. Others will do the same and the
result will be chaos. The way out is to examine uncertain situations
and to think of additional ways to get guarantees. This can be
achieved by staying at the negotiation table. Iran is still offering
to do this. Their only condition is “no pre-conditions.” The Iranian
chief negotiator Ali Larijani has said repeatedly that even enrichment
is open to negotiation.

* Third, I had said that “Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in
the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian
casualties.” The reader asks if this is not something that the Iranian
government should worry about? The problems with this view, in my
opinion, are:

1. these facilites were built over the years (some of them encouraged
by the U.S. government).
2. they were not built by one Iranian government and not during a time
of military tension. In other words, they cannot all be viewed as
President Ahmadinejad’s way of shielding weapons behind people.

* Even if we make that assumption, to say that it is all right to
endanger millions of Iranian lives because their government has used
them as shields would amount to accepting genocide (in the hope of
preventing a future genocide for which we do not have any evidence
besides our mistrust of the other side).

* I draw the attention of this reader to the fact that in many places in
the world, people have a different perception of Iran. Examples? Take
another look at what the President of Iran’s troubled neighboring
country, Afghanistan, has had to say yesterday.

* Before we leave this subject, I would like to clarify and reiterate
the points that I made in window 32 concerning Iran’s nuclear
controversy:

1. 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).

2. Iran is a signatory to the NPT (Non 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 Pakistan, Israel, and
India which have not agreed to become members of NPT.

3. Surprise inspections have not yielded any evidence of a nuclear
weapon’s program in Iran to date.

4. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of
suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything
(including suspension of enrichment).

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5. Iranian nuclear facilities – which were built over a period of time
starting before the 1979 revolution – are spread out in the country.
It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Continued Military Threat Against Iran

* The Cheney camp pushes for war with Iran. Once more, the Iranian
government’s offer of its willingness to hold a higher level dialogue
with the American government gets rejected:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/aug/1040.html

* More on the defense authorization bill that mentions Iran:
http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=834&Itemid=2

Iranian Women in Sports — American women athletes in Iran!

Iranian Womens volleyball team.

Iranian Women's volleyball team (click on the link for more pictures).

Believe it or not, as you read this window, the American women’s softball team is in Iran preparing for a competition with Iranian women softball players. Shirzanan, the Iranian women’s sports weekly which reported the news provided no pictures (unfortunately). I have another sports picture for you, though. Click on the link below and, even if you don’t read Persian, scroll down for images of Iranian women volleyball players: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article375

Visual Delight

I won’t give you a painting show this time either. This window has simply grown too large. Instead I’ll attach a slide show of Tehran that a dear friend has forwarded. It is different from all the previous shows in that it combines some really old and some very recent pictures of Tehran. The combination is quite fascinating. Just click here: Tehran, A Modern Metropolis.

Another new building in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

Another new building in modern Tehran (click the link above for more pictures Tehran).

A new building in modern Tehran (click the link at the end of window for more pictures).

A new building in modern Tehran (click the link above for more pictures from Tehran).



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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 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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