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Archive for the ‘iranian cyclists for peace’ Category

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.”

|
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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Windows on Iran 32

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

A snowy day in Tehran (see below for more recent images from Tehran).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the summer. If you signed up to be on Windows on Iran this weekend in Boston, there will be a few days before you are added to the list. Also, Meghan, Richard, Mehdi, Matt, Prinaz…and a million others, thank you so very much for writing and sending vital Iran-related information in the past week or so. Please forgive me for not being able to write back personally. I do appreciate your help.

I had a great weekend in Boston, a book signing at the Harvard Coop bookstore, and an interview with WZBC, Boston News. I very much appreciated the opportunity to discuss with John Grebe, the host of the show, the mindlessness of talking about an attack on Iran as if it were morally acceptable and practically doable. In these frightening times, when people you think know better –  such as Senator Lieberman – propose violence against Iran, it would be crucial to keep certain facts in mind. I will summarize these below under the headings “Concerning the Nuclear Issue” and “Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran.” Before we get into that topic though, I would like you to see more pleasant things:

Images of Peaceful Life in Iran

Thanks to Joy Martin who sent me these beautiful recent images from Tehran, we can start this window with a colorful show of images from ordinary life in Iran. We think the photographer is Sharam Rasavi (the images have been forwarded by various people and it is hard to determine who is the photographer). Click here: Recent Images from Tehran. There are twelve slides and the transition time between them is five seconds.

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Contrary to the images that you will most often see in the mainstream U.S. media, Tehran is a major metropolitan city with all the same things you will find in major capital cities throughout the world (click on the link above for many more images).

Miles For Peace

//milesforpeace.org .

"Miles for Peace" group in Paris. Please visit their terrific website at http://milesforpeace.org (image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

On the subject of peace, I have great news for you. A dozen Iranian
men and women cyclists who had started cycling from Iran, and across
Europe, have now arrived in the United States. Their message: Iranians
are a peaceful people,  they love other nations,  and would like to be
a constructive member of the International community.

If you live in the St. Louis area, come to greet the Iranian men and
women cyclists for peace on Thursday, June 21st, at the Arch at
6:00pm. Don’t forget to  bring your bicycle if wish to cycle with them
around the Arch.

You can have dinner with the cyclists at Talaynas Restaurant (Four
Seasons Shopping Center, Chesterfield MO 63017 Tel # 314-956-0451) at
8 pm if you like. To learn more about Miles for peace, please visit:
http://www.milesforpeace.org/home.php.

Concerning the Nuclear Issue:
Now to the crucial facts that should not get masked by the flow of misinformation on Iran :

Iran has no history of military aggression against its neighbors in the past two centuries (in the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was attacked and stopped at the old borders once the invaders were pushed out). Iran is a signatory to the NPT (None Proliferation Treaty) which means its nuclear facilities are open to surprise inspections. That is why El Baradei insists that Iran should be talked to, not threatened. Please note that there are countries such as the United States, Pakistan, Israel, and India which have not agreed to become members of NPT. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapon’s program in Iran. Iran has repeated, time and again, that if the pre-condition of suspending enrichment is removed, it will negotiate everything (including suspension of enrichment). Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out in the country. It is impossible to target them without horrific civilian causalities.

Consequences of a Potential Military Assault on Iran:

Iran has five times as many people and resources as Iraq. Hundreds of thousands (Daniel Ellsberg says millions) of innocent Iranian civilians will die if Iranian nuclear centers are targeted with the so-called bunker busters. Iran can retaliate with thousands of missiles targeting American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if a few of these missiles are intercepted, the rest can inflict major casualties. Iran can make the narrow Straits of Hormuz an unsafe place for the oil tankers to pass through, in effect cutting a substantial part of the oil supply of the world. If desperate, Iran can hit oil tankers in the gulf causing major fuel shortage, and environmental pollution. As of now, al-Qaedeh does not have any sympathizers in Iran. Individual members trying to escape through Iran have been arrested. In the unfortunate event of an attack on Iran, a new front will open for al-Qaedeh recruiters. Iran sympathizers inside Iraq, Afghanistan — and elsewhere in the world — will find themselves engaged in a war with the U.S.

Current Issues (more on Iran)
Some of the misinformation spread against Iran gets refuted later but often the major media – which has carried the original “news” – overlooks the corrective statements. One such topic is the alleged help Iran is providing to the Taliban who fight the U.S. military in Afghanistan:

NATO commanders in Pakistan have long been aware that the Taliban has been dependent on Pakistan for its arms and ammunition. The Telegraph reported Sunday that a NATO report on a recent battle shows the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells and had stocked over one million rounds of ammunition, all of which came from Quetta, Pakistan during the spring months. Despite all of this, and despite the fact that the Taliban have been hostile to Iran from their very inception (in 2005, they killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Kabul), the hawks in the current American administration are still working on presenting Iran as supporting the Taliban to justify a possible military campaign against Iran. As Matt Miller who sent me some recent reports on this topic noted, these claims (most probably generated by Vice President Cheney’s supporters) appear to have been rebuffed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, who issued unusually strong denials.
Thanks a lot Matt:
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/12/1832/

Art and Culture

* I will not include a painting slide show in this window. Instead, I will introduce you to an Iranian woman story-teller who is already gaining a reputation as the first Iranian woman Naqqal  (a performer of who reads/enacts stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings by the 10th century poet Firdowsi of Tus). Naqqals usually did their story telling in coffee houses (in fact, tea houses because they serve tea rather than coffee!). Do watch the clip, even if you don’t know Persian. It is about four minutes, and does not require much explanation. Her voice recites the epic poetry in the background while you see images of her story-tellling, and of coffee houses in Iran: http://www.jadidmedia.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Gordtest/gordafarid_high.html

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman Naqqal--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

Fatemeh Habibizad (above)--the first Iranian woman 'Naqqal'--a performer who reads/enacts the stories of the celebrated Persian epic "The Book of Kings" (see the link above for a terrific video of one of her performances).

* I will close this window, introducing you to an American woman story-teller, a writer friend I have not met yet, though we have corresponded for some time and read each other’s work: Meghan Nuttall Sayers. Meghan writes and weaves in Eastern Washington where she lives with her husband, three children, two sheep and a cat. Meghan has recently published  a delightful novel Anahita’s Woven Riddle (selected ALA’s top ten best books for young adults). This is an historical novel that weaves together rich details of 19th century Persian culture, Sufi poetry, romance and adventure. Meghan has kindly kept in touch since reading my book on Rumi a number of years ago. Following my critique of the May 27th NY Times essay that presented Iran as devoid of bookstores with readers who only read books that lend themselves to discussion with psychiatrists, Meghan sent a link to a very interesting piece called Colors of Iran: Images From Iran’s First International Children’s Book Festival, Kerman, March 2005: http://www.meghannuttallsayres.com/mideast/iran-icbf/. She is currently working on another book about the positive experiences of non-Iranians traveling to Iran.

I hope these rich and interesting cultural pieces have compensated for the unpleasant news we have have to refute on these windows. In the hope of leaving these frightening times behind, I wish you a very pleasant week.

Until the next Window on Iran.

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

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Windows on Iran 29

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

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

Dear All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iranian Cyclists Cycle for Peace

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

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

Current Events:

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

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

Iranian Americans in California

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

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

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

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

Visual Delight

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

Until our next window, have a great week!

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

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