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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Windows on Iran 47

Happy Nouruz Everyone!!! Persian families throughout the world right now are celebrating Nouruz (Nowrouz), the Persian New Year. Above is an example of the a "hafsin," which is a special table prepared for Nouruz (please see the link below for much more information about Nouruz).

Happy Nouruz Everyone!!! Persian families throughout the world right now are celebrating Nouruz (Nowrouz), the Persian New Year. Above is an example of a "haftsin," which is a special table prepared for the Nouruz celebration.

Dear All,

Greetings and a very Happy Spring to you! We are in the first week of Nouruz, the Persian New Year. How can I not come out of sabbatical to open a new window, even the ground hog is out. I’ll make this a pictorial essay as far as possible (Usually I attach one slide show only. Hope it wouldn’t be too hard on your computers).

Nouruz (Nowrouz)

* Persian speakers call the Near Year Nouruz (literally A New Day) to highlight the refreshing and life-giving nature of the season. Linked below is a power point show on how Nouruz is celebrated in Iran and other Persian speaking parts of the world. If you are a teacher, I hope it will help in the classroom. Please click here: The Nouruz (Nowrouz) Celebration.

Love

* Let me start with my favorite picture of the year taken by an Iranian youth last year (below). The picture won a photography contest in Japan. The young photographer called it “love.”

A young Iranian photographer took this award-winning and heart-warming photo, entitled "Love."

A young Iranian photographer took this award-winning and heart-warming photo, entitled "Love."

Recommended Reference Source

* If you like to look up information about Iran or Persian traditions, one of the best reference sources available in major libraries is Encyclopedia Iranica edited by a prominent Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater. To read about him and the encyclopedia visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehsan_Yarshater.

Distinguished Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater with Iranian Nobel Peace Laurette Shirin Ebadi and the prominent Iranian author and womens rights activist Mehrangiz Kar.

Distinguished Iranian scholar Ehsan Yarshater with Iranian Nobel Peace Laurette Shirin Ebadi (left) and the prominent Iranian author and women's rights activist Mehrangiz Kar (right).

Things are Looking Scary Again

* I had thought to leave any discussion of political conflict out of this particular window. After the NIE Report released in December, which demonstrated the Intelligence community’s confidence about lack of nuclear weapons in Iran, the chances of an American military confrontation with Iran seemed very slim. In recent weeks, particularly since the resignation of Admiral Fallon from the Central Command, rumors of a possible confrontation have been revived. A number of developments contribute to these rumors:

1. Vice President Cheney’s extended tour of the Middle East: here is an interesting essay by Micheal Klare, professor of peace and correspondent for The Nation: http://www.agenceglobal.com/article.asp?id=1515.

2. According to Japan Focus, an Asia Pacific Electronic Journal,  a unit within the US Treasury Department, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), issued a March 20th advisory to the world’s financial institutions about transactions with Iran. Apparently, this is an important economic move to further isolate Iran: http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2707.

3. So far President Bush had described Iran as a threat to its immediate neighbors. This seems rather unusual since four of Iran’s neighbors have substantial   U.S. military bases on their soil and two of them or are invaded by the U.S. It now appears that the French President Sarkozy has joined the heads of states who feel threatened by Iran. Speaking Friday in the northern French port of Cherbourg, President Sarkozy described Iran as a threat to Europe. In light of the fact that the U.S. army is sitting on three sides of Iran, not to mention the U.S. full presence in the Persian Gulf, most observers will find this claim exaggerated at best. However, the substance of this claim is less important than the hostile tone that the French president has adopted.

4. Finally, the most troubling recent development of all is the report by Egyptian sources that an American nuclear submarine has crossed the Suez Canal to join the US fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/4439.

Could all of these be coincidences? One would disparately hope so…and no one can be sure. But – if you are among the people who feel you must work to prevent another disastrous war- this is the time.

A beautiful painting by the very talented Iranian painter Sepideh Farzam (please click the link to the right for more of her outstanding paintings).

A beautiful painting by the very talented Iranian painter Sepideh Farzam (please click the link below for more of her outstanding work).

Visual Delight

* If you are a regular reader of “Windows on Iran,” you know that we have a tradition of following unpleasant political events with art work from Iran. So, traditionally I close each window with a power point slide show of a recent painting exhibit in Iran. I hope it washes off the bitter taste of political conflict but also demonstrates the creativity and vibrancy of the current Persian culture. For this reason, I pick most of the paintings from the works of young artists and mostly women.

* Today’s artist is Sepideh Farzam, she was born in the city of Tabriz in north east of Iran.  Unlike most artists featured in these windows, she is not a graduate of and an art program. Sepideh, is an electric engineer by profession, an engineer who has followed her interest in painting quite seriously. She has had many group exhibits in various galleries in Iran. To See Ms. Farzam’s latest show, please click here: Sepideh Farzam Paintings. It is a fairly small exhibit. Enjoy.

Let us hope that the joy of this Nouruz will not be tarnished with the news of another war. Till our next window, have a great spring.

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.
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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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