Archive for the ‘mass transportation’ Category

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:

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:

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.

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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Metro in Tehran.

Metro in Tehran.

Greetings everyone,

I know, I promised to send you Window number 9 with a short delay. An
out of  town talk, and a canceled flight are the shortest explanation
for why it took longer than I promised. I have already had a number of
queries about the delayed window which is absolutely wonderful. It tells
me that you look through these windows with interest and this alone
makes the work worthwhile. So, I decided to keep the slide show of
Isfahan — which I am working on — for the next window to makesure that
this window goes out tonight. Please continue to forward to friends and
let me know if you are missing any of the windows.

Without further ado, here comes window number 9 on Iran.

Current Issues:

* According to the New Jersey online news source Star-ledger, an
interview with 400 Iranian citizens residing in Shiraz and Tehran
shows that Iranians distinguish between American foreign policy
and American people, and are fond of Americans:
* Emphasizing the above point in a congressional briefing on October
11, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Dr.
Trita Parsi described Iran as an asset rather than a threat to the
United States: http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press472.asp
* On Thursday September 28th, 2006, City and County of San
Francisco’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) conducted a hearing on
the visa revocation and mistreatment of visiting  Iranians. The
hearing was an inquiry into the treatment of the Iranian Citizens
who after arriving in the US found their visas revoked, and were
sent to immigration detention centers. Representatives of the
Department of Homeland Security, Border Control and Protection
(BCP) were invited to respond to the inquiry. Commissioners
expressed their dismay of what had happened to the detainees. A
large number of Iranian Americans attended.

Iranian Americans

* I promised to keep you updated on the Iranian American community.
It turns out we are more numerous than previous records showed. To
read the most recent study done at MIT, click here: MIT Study on Iranians in the U.S.

* This week, I want to introduce you to a Los Angeles based group of
Iranian American musicians, the Lian Ensemble. Described by top
critics as “virtuoso,” “world class” musicians, and “absolutely
soulful,” the members of the ensemble are firmly rooted in the
authentic music tradition of Iran. At the same time, they work
with master musicians from around the world (including great
American musicians) using their art to bridge cultures and promote
the ideal of peace. I have personally had the pleasure of reading
poetry with the ensemble and hosting them here at the Missouri
Historical Society and at Washington University in St. Louis. We
called our poetry and music performance The Axis of Love. Do visit
their web site at www.lianrecords.com to read about Persian
mystical music, the individual artists, and to listen to excerpts
from their work.

Social / Political

* In Tehran two new metro stations opened last week:
*  From March to September 2006, Iran exported over 18 million
dollars of saffron to neighboring countries:

* An Iranian court ordered the closure of the reformist newspaper
Sharq. While I usually focus on the positive news because the
negative gets enough publicity here in the US, this is an
important event. Any outside pressure on Iran (sanction, or talk
of regime change) provides the hard-liners with the pretext to
present the Iranian reformists as a threat in time of crisis.

Culture / Art / Sports

* Let me introduce you another great Iranian writer from Shiraz.
This is Simin Danishvar, the author of Savushun, the first Persian
novel that sold close to half a million copies. Born in Shiraz in
1921, Danishvar moved to Tehran where she was one of the first
Iranian women to receive a Ph.D. from Tehran University in 1949.
Her best-selling novel Savushun has two English translations. For
the translation by Mohammad Ghanoonparvar, see:
For a collection of Danishvar’s short stories see Danishvar’s
Playhouse: a Collection of Stories available through Amazon:

* Iranian cinema made a big splash with several prizes at the
Italian film festival (Oct. 11-14) in Trento, Italy:
* Iranian women volleyball players are pleased with the World
Volleyball Federation approving their playing in Islamic outfit:

Visual Delight

* Take a look at examples from the paintings of the young Iranian
artist Asal Khosravi, clicking on each painting to see the larger
version: http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=290 And visit the
drawings of Mohsen Daeinabi inspired by art of calligraphy at:
And before I say good-bye, I would like to invite you to listen to a
beautiful song by the young and upcoming Iranian percussion artist and
vocalist, Homayun Shajarian The song is about five minutes, clik on the
link to listen :

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

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