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Windows on Iran 52

A painting by Iranian painter Iman Maleki of a group of Iranian men enjoying some setar, tar, oud, and ney music. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his fantastic paintings.

A painting by world-famous Iranian painter Iman Maleki, depicting a group of Iranian men relaxing and enjoying some traditional Persian music being played on the setar, tar, oud, and ney. Please see the link at the end of this 'Window' for more of his works.

Dear All,

Greetings. I hope you are continuing to enjoy the summer. My summer has turned out to be as lively as the academic year usually is. Let me briefly report.

* Last week I got together with my undergraduate classmates in a Shiraz University reunion held in San Diego! San Diego and Shiraz are both beautiful cities, in different ways. We had a panel organized on Rumi’s poetry. Besides that, I read poetry to music.

* Another exciting piece of news is that I have accepted to be the honorary Co-Chair of a vibrant emerging organization called “Iranians For Peace” (IFP). Our Board consist of five very able and dedicated women of Iranian heritage (more to be added). The main goal of this non-partisan group is to prevent war through promoting peaceful cultural education on Iran. On some level, this is what I have been engaged in for a sometime. These windows are an example of that. I hope you get a chance to visit our website, stay abreast of the activities, and provide us with your support: http://www.iraniansforpeace.net.

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* On the subject of my summer activities, let me give the links to two articles which I have recently published. On July 16, I had an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the link is: “A 21st-century warning from a 13th-century poet.”

* And on August 2nd, I had a piece published in the online newsletter Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/keshavarz08022008.html.  I hope you find them useful!

Who Are Iranian Americans?

* Enough of my activities. Many Americans are working hard to bring about an understanding of the diversity of Iranians in Iran and in the US. Watch this fascinating clip which was sent to me by my friend, and a board member of the IFP, Leila Zand: http://www.searchles.com/channels/show/4563 (or view below!).
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Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Arsalan Kazemi (above) is the first Iranian to receive a NCAA basketball scholarship (image courtesy of http://www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

What do Do Iran and America Exchange?

* Sometimes it appears that Iran and the U.S. only trade harsh political attacks. The truth is more interesting exchanges take place as well, but somehow do not qualify as news. Once I reported in these windows that the American women softball team was in Iran for a match with their Iranian counterparts. A lot of you were surprised. Well, here is another fun headline which does not make it to your evening news: An Isfahani young man, Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian to get an NCAA scholarship to play basketball in the US. Take a look at him in action. Thanks to my friend Omid Safi who has shared this interesting piece of news: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/luke_winn/07/15/kazemi/index.html

* Before I put the finishing touches to this window, I recieved a great clip from another friend Ladan Foroughi-Hedayati related to the subject of Iranian basketball. It is an MSNBC report on the recent visit of the Iranian Basketball team to the U.S. The report is great in showing a side of Iran that we rarely see in our media here. However, sadly, the report follows the general tradition of connecting all Iran related news to the American hostages. We even listen to President Bush declaring Iran to be a member of the axis of evil before we see a few minutes of the game. The formula prevents one from seeing the humanity or normality of Iran because we are first told about all the possible differences, disagreements, and political conflicts. Still, I hope you enjoy the basketball part: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25796284#25796284.

Current Issues

* Speaking of political conflict, despite the apparent calm, the predictions concerning the Iran/US relations are not hopeful. What you hear in the mainstream media is that Iran is about to turn down the EU package of incentives and there should be more UN sanctions. However, the view from the other side is different. Take a look at this article discussing the views of Francis Boyle, the influential intentional lawyer, to get a different perspective on the situation: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/29/10672/.

* There is an interesting clip, that my friend Bahar Bastani sent this week. It highlights a part of the famous interview that Mr. Mike Wallace conducted with President Ahmadinejad which has not been included in the official broadcast of the interview. Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ‘s words are often used as justification for sanctions or possible attacks on Iran, it is important to know exactly what he has said regardless of our personal interpretations of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E (or view it below!).

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* And there is yet more grim news from Mr. Seymour Hersh. This is his latest reference to a strong tendency among certain members of the current U.S. administration to create a clash that would lead to a war with Iran. Matt Miller has kindly shared this piece with me. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/article/hersh-cheney-plan-creating-false-flag-attack
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A painting of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

A painting by Iman Maleki of two young Iranian women reading on the roof of a city building. Please see the link to the left for much more of his art work.

The Amazing Paintings of Iman Maleki

* If you are familiar with Persian culture, or have been following these windows regularly, you know that painting is among the most popular art forms in Iran. I have usually been sending you paintings of Iranian women, in part because it counters the myth that they are subjugated, inactive, or unable to express their creative talents. In this window, however, I want to introduce the works of young man, an amazing master painter whose works have been getting him international fame in the recent years, Iman Maleki (1976-). Maleki has experimented with a variety of styles but he is mostly a realist whose works have a strong cultural flavor. Click here to see a slide show of some of his tremendous work: Iman Maleki Paintings. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this window.

Until the next one,
I Wish you all the Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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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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A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, which,  Holocaust Zero Degree Turn.

A screen shot from the most popular Iranian soap opera, entitled "Zero Degree Turn," which centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Please see below for more on this show.

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. Here in St. Louis we are enjoying the slight cooling down of September while Washington University is now in full motion with the fall semester. New students, some new colleagues, lots of activity…it is all wonderful. I am off for a short trip to London to convene a conference/celebration of the 800th birthday of the great medieval poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi. You can read about the conference at http://www.iranheritage.org/rumiconference/programme.htm. The conference will bring together quite a few world scholars of Rumi.

Let us open window number 39 on Iran before I leave for London.

The Iranian TV Hit about the Holocaust

The Wall Street Journal (September 7) has a piece about a TV series it
describes as Iran’s Unlikely TV Hit and adds “the most surprising
thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching
tale of European Jews during World War II.”  The truth is what is
surprising is not the Iranian series but the Wall Street coverage of
it. The presentation of Iranian society as being in denial of the
Holocaust is so bad that I was going to search bookstores on my next
trip to Iran to see what I can find on the subject. Last week, a
friend returning from Iran brought me four randomly picked magazines.
Two of them had clear (in one case extensive) articles in condemnation
of the Holocaust. Now, let’s get back to the TV series:
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The hour-long drama, “Zero Degree Turn,” centers on a love story
between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman.
Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi
detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for
the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian
Jews to their homeland.

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Shot on location in Paris and Budapest, the show stars Iranian
heartthrob Shahab Husseini and is so popular that its theme song — an
ode to getting lost in love — is a hit, too.

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Despite its positive subject, theWSJ article about Iranian TV show, is
still plagued with a negative language. It calls the series “unlikely”
and “most surprising” and describes other Iranian TV series as a “fare
of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.” As a person who tries to
follow Iranian popular media, I can tell you that these statements are
exaggerations at best. Nevertheless, in these days of demonizing Iran,
the Wall Street Journal must be commended for allowing a positive and
heart-warming piece of information to come to light about present day
Iran: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118912609718220156.html?mod=loomia&loomia_si=1 (also, click on the video below to see the first episode!).
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Jewish Wedding in Tehran

All right, I dedicate this window to the Jews of Iran with this short and beautiful slide show of the wedding of Sanaz and Payman, two young Iranian Jews who got married three weeks ago in a beautiful synagogue in Tehran. Please click here: Jewish Wedding in Tehran.

Jewish wedding in Tehran (click the link on the right for more pictures from their wedding).

Jewish wedding in a Tehran synagogue (click the link above for more pictures from Sanaz and Payman's wedding).

Iran Depicted as a Sewer

* On September 4, the Columbus Dispatch carried a cartoon that depicted the entire map of Iran as a sewer with cockroaches running out of it and infesting  neighboring countries (see the cartoon I only reluctantly insert below): http://www.payvand.com/news/07/sep/Racist-Iran-cartoon-Columbus-Dispatch.jpg.  I wrote to the editor, asked if he realized the implications of turning 70 million people into cockroaches, and indicated that I was amazed – indeed speechless – that this kind of Nazi style dehumanization propaganda could be carried out by a respectable paper. The editor wrote back – referred to Mr. Ahmadinejads anti-Semitism – and suggested that the intention was only to caricature the extremists! Since he sounded very nice, I mailed him the beautiful wedding pictures of the newly wed Jewish couple Sanaz and Payman in case the paper would like to show Americans a dimension of Iran that most Americans do not see. I have not heard back yet.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Irans as cockroaches.

Racist and dehumanizing Columbus dispatch cartoon depicting Iranians as cockroaches.

* National Iranian American Council (NIAC) protested the Columbus
Dispatch editorial page cartoon. Board member Dokhi Fassihian wrote to
the Columbus Dispatch editor: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=880&Itemid=2

* The protest did not come only from the Iranian Americans. Many other
Americans have been horrified by the dehumanizing message of the
cartoon. Teach Peace did a special information sheet on it which you
can easily forward to others to prevent this kind of preparing the
public for a new war. (Thank you David Dionisi for sharing this):
http://www.teachpeace.com/WarPropaganda.pdf

US Sees Potential Merit To Iran Cooperation Plan

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/iran_nuclear_usa_dc;_ylt=AnkDEkaB3_.W2O0BsNtPT1FSw60A
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Visual Delight

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Mahtab Abdullahi (or, Mahtab Abdollahi).

Now, to replace dry political discussion with a bit of fun and introduce a healing note, I would like to invite you to meet a very young Iranian painter: Mahtab Abdullahi who seems to enjoy playing with orange and blue in particular. Please click here: Mahtab Abdullahi Painting Show.

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 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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"Azadi" (Freedom Monument) in Tehran, Iran. Please scroll down to see many more pictures from Iran that you will not see the U.S. mainstream media. Also, be sure to click on the videos too!

"Azadi" (Freedom Monument) in Tehran, Iran. Please scroll down to see many more pictures from Iran that you will not see the U.S. mainstream media. Also, be sure to click on the videos too!

Dear Friends,

I missed the opportunity last weekend for sending out Window number 22. I was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (thanks to Carolina Center for Middle Eastern Studies) making a presentation, a book reading, and a joint reading and dance in which I shared the stage with my wonderful dancer and choreographer friend Dr. Alice Bloch (my share was reading only!).

THANK YOU all for your wonderful words of encouragement about my NPR interview/discussion of Rumi with Krista Tippett on “Speaking of Faith.” I had to stop responding to individual messages which continue to come in as the program gets aired in various parts of the country. I do appreciate your words of support, and your use of the program in your respective courses, presentations, etc. If you didn’t get to listen to the program, it is at: http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/rumi/ . In the archive there is a also a video clip of my reading Rumi to music with my delighful musician friends the Lian Ensemble. Enjoy!

Visual Delight

*The windows on Iran get your most praise for the visual information
that I send out. Many of you use them in class. The first attachment
to this Window is another slide show with Iranian natural scenery as
well as urban landscape. It is relatively short (just over 30 slides
with 5 second transition time). Click here: Iran Old and New .

The countryside of Iran--flowing green hills and snow-capped mountains.

The countryside of Iran--flowing green hills and snow-capped mountains.

*While we are on the subject of visual information on Iran, I’d like to
share with you a wonderful new video clip from Iran thanks to my
cousin Abe Massoudi and a dear friend Bahar Hashemi who both sent it
to me this week: http://www.iranian.com/Clips/2007/February/iran.html

Current Issues

*A VERY IMPORTANT piece of information that did not get much publicity
in the main stream U.S. media. As you know, Iran has recently been
accused of making the IEDs that are responsible for much of the
American causalities in Iraq. As it turns out, these IEDs are actually
made in Iraq:  http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002629.php

*Here is the latest anti-war clip going around with great images from
Iran: http://www.lucasgray.com/video/peacetrain.html

*The current threat of an American military assault on Iran has
politicized the Iranian American community to a degree that would
probably not have happened for years to come. I have already told you
about NIAC (The National Iranian American Council) and CASMII
(Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran). Here
is an article by Dokhi Fassihian on how Iranians can get involved in
stopping the military threat, courtesy of Amir Amini:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/mar/1059.html

*Speaking of CASMII, the founder Nader Sadeqi has forwarded a very
interesting article “Building Confidence, or Building Confidence for
Regime Change?” http://www.payvand.com/news/07/mar/1027.html

*A common excuse for military action against Muslim countries is saving
Muslim women from oppression. Senator Clinton has recently suggested a
rescue mission to help Iranian and Syrian women. My friend Zari
Taheri, Professor of Persian in Japan, has sent a new piece about
Women in post-revolutionary Iran by the outspoken Pakistani poet and
activist Fatima Bhutto. It is a criticism of the view that Iranian
women are voiceless victims in need of rescue. As you read the piece,
please remember that it is not a testimony to the gender sensitivity
of the Islamic Republic but to the strength and resilience of the
Iranian feminist movement which continue to thrive … and would
object to “liberation” through outside military intervention:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/mar/1091.html

Some Iranian women in a cafe in Tehran who likely are not very happy with the Islamic Republic of Irans positions on womens issues, but neither are they looking for liberation from an American Army.

Some young Iranian women in a cafe in Tehran, who likely are not very happy with the Iranian government's positions on women's issues, but NEITHER are they looking for "liberation" from the American Army. Contrary to what the mainstream U.S. media would have you believe, there is actually a strong feminist movement in Iran currently (image courtesy of http://www.blogs.guardian.co.uk).

Meet Two Great Contemporary Iranian Painters

A beautiful painting of a woman by Nami Petgar (click on the slide show for more of his paintings and be sure to view some of Masoud Dashtban's paintings as well).

A beautiful painting of a woman by Nami Petgar (click on the slide show for more of Petgar and Dashtban's paintings).

*It has become a tradition to close these windows after viewing a show by a contemporary Iranian painter. To counter misconceptions about women, I usually  feature young Iranian women painters. This time, I want to introduce you to two very well established contemporary male Iranian painters Nami Petgar and Masoud Dashtban. Petgar and Dashtban are very different in their vision, choice of  themes, and style of artistic expression. They both have regular painting shows in various cities in Iran, teach and have earned the title of the artist of the year. Click here for Dashtban Painting and here for Petgar Painting. There are about twenty paintings by each artist. Enjoy!

Wish you all a very nice 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 21

A beautiful painting by Iranian-American Seroge Barseghian (see below for more).

A beautiful painting by Iranian-American artist Seroge Barseghian (see below for more of his extraordinary work).

Hi All,

I hope you got a chance to relax and enjoy the weekend. Please take a look at the number of windows that you have received. If any numbers are missing, your window may have bounced due to a full mailbox. If so, please let me know to supply the missing windows.

These are seminal moments in our history. I hope the Windows on Iran will keep you informed in ways that you would not otherwise be. In fact, in my out-of-classroom activities, I do more than preparing these windows. Recently, I was a guest of Krista Tippett on NPR’s “Speaking of Faith.” The show which is dedicated to the poetry of the medieval Persian poet and mystic Rumi (1207-1273) will be aired in the St. Louis area on Sunday, March 4, 9:00 am. Those of you who are not in St. Louis, Missouri, if interested in the show, please check NPR’s website. It is an hour of talking about Rumi and reading his poetry.

Now, let us attend to Window on Iran – 21 without further ado.

*I would like to start by introducing you to the web site of a very
informative independent campaign, CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions
and Military Intervention in Iran). This campaign is run by Nader
Sadeqi, an Iranian American Professor of Surgery at George Washington
University! Thank you Dr. Sadeqi! Do visit CASMII’s web site at
http://www.campaigniran.org/

*Sunday times has the wonderful news that American military officials
at the very top may in fact be far more cautious and unwilling to
start a new disaster in the region by attacking Iran. According to
this article as many as five top U.S. Army officials “will quit” if
the President orders an attack on Iran. To directly quote: “General
Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there
was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US
intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying
insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive. Pace’s view was
backed by the British intelligence officials who said the extent of
the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a
small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear”.   General
Peter Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims is viewed as a
sign of grave discontent at the top. For the full essay please go to
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article1434540.ece
(thank you Adam Shriver for sending this link).

*General Pace’s refusal to blame Iran for resurgency in Iraq is based
on his knowledge of facts on the ground. On February 19, an attack on
an American outpost in Northern Iraq left at least two soldiers dead
and 17 wounded. This attack, followed by gun battle, was described by
Iraqi and American officials as the work of “Sunni millitants, most
probably al-Qaeda.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/world/middleeast/20iraq.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin
What is the relevance of this to Iran? Quite a bit. Iran is one of
few places in the region where al-Qaeda members face arrest and cannot
operate. In fact, two such members were arrested trying to pass
through Iran less than two weeks ago. An America-Iran military
confrontation would be a gift to al-Qaeda.

*Another story that you don’t hear often is that although Iran refuses
unconditional halting of uranium enrichment, it calls almost on a
daily basis for direct negotiation with the U.S. and is prepared to
put enrichment suspension on the table. Here are two articles in the
Iranian papers (in Persian) quoting top Iranian officials on the
subject: http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-883808&Lang=P
and http://mizannews.com/default.asp?nid=1020

*CASMII, which I introduced to you in this Window, has reported this
morning “evidence of US coercion of Members of IAEA against Iran
revealed.” http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/1456

Social: Challenge to the Iranian President

*Papers in Iran reported a challenge by an Iranian nuclear physicist to
the Iranian president Ahmadinejad. Professor Shirazad said in an
interview that Ahmadinejad’s views on the necessity of nuclear
technology for Iran was as “uninformed” as his views about the
magnitude of the Holocaust. Shirzad’s invitation to a public debate is
unlikely to be accepted by the Iranian President but the fact that the
interview makes it to the front page in Iran is good news: (sorry,
Persian source again)
http://www.roozna.com/Negaresh_site/FullStory/?Id=31969

*Time for a nice colorful break from political matters. A friend,
Mazdak Khajehpour, recently sent me the address to the Iranian
Institute of Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences:
http://www.iasbs.ac.ir/ . I hope to be able to utilize this site for
information about science and technology in Iran. My first visit to
the site yielded visually delightful information. A collection of
slides of flowers that grow in Iran. If you are a plant biologist, I
am sure you will have your scientific curiosity. If not just enjoy.
There are about 70 slides with a 4 seconds transition time. Click here: Flowers of Iran. Enjoy!

Flowers of Iran

Flowers of Iran

*A majority world opinion shows skepticism about a “clash of
civilizations” leading to violent conflict between Islam and the West,
according to findings of a poll published Monday.   Pollsters
questioned about 28,000 people in 27 different countries, including
the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Brazil,
Mexico and Australia; as well as four predominantly Muslim countries:
Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia; and two
countries with large Muslim populations: Lebanon and Nigeria.
http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fapnews.myway.com%2Farticle%2F20070219%2FD8NCERSG0.html

*In an essay called “Iran: the Day After,” Phyllis Bennis looks at what
a horrendous situation we would be facing on the hypothetical day
after the U.S. makes such an erronous move:
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0419-23.htm

Art: Visual Delight

Seroge Barseghian Painting

Another painting by Iranian-American artist Seroge Barseghian (click on slide show below for more of his work).

Just have to stop talking politics and visit a few delighful art works
from Iran! I have prepared for you a slide show of the latest painting
exhibit of Seroge Barseghian, the contemporary Iranian Armenian
painter. His colorful celestial feasts are a good visual delight
before closing Window number 21 on Iran. Click here: Seroge Barseghian Paintings. Enjoy!

Have a great week!

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

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