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Windows on Iran 47

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

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

Dear All,

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

Nouruz (Nowrouz)

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

Love

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

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

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

Recommended Reference Source

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

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

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

Things are Looking Scary Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visual Delight

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

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

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

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

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Arian Band. One of the most popular pop/rock bands in Iran.

The Arian Band. One of the most popular pop/rock bands in Iran. Scroll down to learn more about them and other contemporary musicians in Iran.

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have all had a very good weekend. It looks like Monday nights
is going to be a more likely night to send out the windows. Many thanks
for all your words of encouragement and for placing interested friends,
relatives, and colleagues on the list. This is a drop in the sea as we
say in Persian, but I am sure there is saying in every language to the
effect that every drop counts. So, here we go again, Window number 7 is
waiting for you.

Current Issues:

* How could there be any other current issue when Mr. Ahmadinejad is
visiting the U.S.? During such visits, Iranians usually hold their
breath for the next inflammatory remark he will make. If you are
among those who get really irritated — and I don’t blame you at
all — just remember that President Bush included Iran in “The
Axis of Evil” when President Khatami was in office and did his
best to start a “dialogue between civilizations.”  What the
American media carefully overlooks is that much of the world —
perhaps due to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s criticism of American foreign
policy — has shown him a fairly receptive attitude. 118 member
states of the Non-Aligned countries issued a statement in support
of Iranian nuclear technology at the end of their 14th summit last
week (September 18, 2006).

* Here is what Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a U.N. press conference
(September 21, 2006), answering the question “What can Iran do to
assure the international community that the country is not making
a nuclear bomb?” He responded:  “The IAEA has published many
reports. Numerous reports saying that they do not see any
violation of the treaty requirements of NPT by the Iranian
government. … I am at a loss, in understanding what else we need
to do, to provide guarantees. I have said to the dear gentleman
here. That there is no provision in the NPT that says. That we do
not have the right– that, perhaps it says– that we need the vote
or the confidence of the U.S. government to have peaceful nuclear
technology. There is no such provision. … Should Iran shut down
every technological development? In the biological field? And the
medical field? And the chemical field? Because, in any of these
fields, there’s a possibility of dual usage. Possibly a chemical
bomb. So when we speak of justice. We mean that everyone is equal.
When we act within the framework of international law and follow
the provisions of the NPT. … It’s very important to make these
nuclear facilities program a transparent one … there’s no need
to hide such development. …we’ve actually given information to
the IAEA. We’ve invited international world community to visit our
facilities. Now, we are told, by some, that, “You have to gain our
trust and confidence.” But we don’t have any criteria developed
for confidence-building, as such. It may take a hundred years or
more for you to gain confidence, in what we do. What are we
supposed to do given the context that in the past 27 years. You’ve
demonstrated so much hostility towards our nation. …” (Thank you
Amir Ali Companieh for forwarding the whole interview).

* Last week theatrical events at the U.N. were also interesting to
watch. Mr. Chavez (whose personal attack on Mr. Bush is – in my
opinion – unprofessional for a head of a state) received a
standing ovation. The American media showed little alarm at the
world’s anti-American sentiments and explained the support
for Chavez and for Ahmadinejad to be the result of these two
countries large oil reservoirs. This hypothesis is simplistic and
disrespectful of world opinion. And it can be tested. Next time
the Saudi Arabian representative speaks at the U.N., watch the
reception he gets. We need — in my opinion — to be concerned
with the fact that these two politicians (Chavez & Ahmadinejad)
get away with much simply because of their outspoken criticism of
U.S. foreign policy.

Science

* Fortunately, the Iranian President returned home, and we can now
attend to more interesting matters. A very young Iranian American
scientist Nima Arkani Hamed has been in the news lately (I heard
about him thanks to my friend Behfar Dianati). Nima Arkani Hamed,
currently a professor of physics at Harvard is a leading scientist
in particle physics and string theory.  For a short biography and
reference to his work click on:
http://www.anvari.org/iran/Famous_Iranians/Nima_Arkani-Hamed.html
(It looks like I should keep a regular section on Iranian
Americans).

Art/Culture

* How about a cookbook for a starter? I would recommend any cookbook
by Batmanglij, particularly Persian Cooking for a Healthy Kitchen

http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/0934211671/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/102-6161793-5949765
Do scroll down and look at two other titles: New Food for Life and
— particularly if you are vegetarian like me — Silk Road
Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by the same author. You will not be
disappointed.

* No, I am not resorting to cookbooks because I have run out of
subjects. Just trying to keep this exchange healthy and wholesome.
Since we are on a touristic subjects, let me tell you that Iran is
trying hard to tell the world that it is visitable. Beautiful
hotels are being built around the country. I have chosen one that
is not just beautiful but rather unusual. A traditional building
in a mountainous location in the North Eastern province of
Azerbaijan (close to the city of Tabriz) has been converted into a
hotel. Click here (Mountain Hotel–Tabriz) to see!

* The category we have not approached at all is Persian music.
Most people are not sure if musical activity has continued in
Iran after the ascendancy of the Islamic Republic in 1979.  Well,
attempts were made by extremist groups to curtail music and other
performing arts in the early 1980s. However, it did not get very
far. If anything, it made music a hot topic. Most music classes
keep long wait lists. Persian traditional music remains very
popular. I will at some point introduce you to some contemporary
master musicians of classical Persian music. In this window,
however, I would like to concentrate on the two kinds of music
that most of you would not expect to find in Iran. First, the
Iranian Symphony Orchestra is alive and well and performs
regularly. Last August, it performed in Germany (amid speculation
in the western media that the Islamic republic will not allow the
musicians to perform in the west):
<>http://www.payvand.com/news/06/aug/1331.html

* Even more surprising for non-Iranians is to hear about: modern
Iranian Rock and Pop bands. To read a report on that, click on:
http://www.flyglobalmusic.com/fly/archives/africamiddle_east_features/the_young_iran.html
be sure to scroll down to get to web addresses of individual
groups. Arian is among the most popular Iranian Pop groups and has
two women in the band. Last May, when I was in Iran, I saw at
least 8 or 9 CDs by them in music stores. Here is their web page.
Do click on English for more pictures: http://www.arianmusic.com/

Visual Delight

* And we will follow our tradition of visiting some contemporary
Iranian painters’ studios before closing Window number 7.  Here
are three delightful Iranian women painters and samples of their
works:

First, Nadimeh Abdollahi (b. 1980)
http://www.caroun.com/Painting/IranPainting/NadimehAbdollahi/NadimehAbdollahi.html

The second artist is Sahar Seyedi (b.1972)
http://www.caroun.com/Painting/IranPainting/SaharSeyedi/SaharSeyedi.html

And finally, Miranda Ansari (b. 1971)
http://www.caroun.com/Painting/IranPainting-01/MirandaAnsari/MirandaAnsari.html

I wish you all a very a good 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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Shah Cheragh in Shiraz, Iran (see below for a link to many more beautiful pictures of gardens and palaces in Shiraz).

Shah Cheragh in Shiraz, Iran (see below for a link to many more beautiful pictures of gardens and palaces in Shiraz).

Greetings to All!

Alright, I am a day late. It has been a very busy weekend. Now you know why, despite all your kind encouragement, I cannot turn this into a blog. There are simply not enough hours in the day! Anyway, here comes window number 6.

I continue to be delighted that you find these windows useful. A quick clarification. Some of you have suggested that I send out the Persian text when I attach a short poem such as the one by Farrokhzad which I sent out about two weeks ago. I have not done so because it can cause problems for those recipients who do not have the Persian software installed in their computer.

Again, please let me know if you have any missing windows. And now to our window number 6:

Current Issues:

* I wanted to start with a report related to Iran’s nuclear
technology, but something more current is the first item: reaction
to Pope’s comments. Yes, there were reactions in Iran. No, they
did not involve burning anything. Yesterday, a group of Iranian
students marched to the Vatican Embassy in Tehran carrying flowers
and a large banner that read: “We respond to the Pope’s violent
words with love.” They stood there in silence, then threw their
flowers at the building and returned. There are pictures at
Baztabs site (courtesy of my friend Mohammad Companieh)
http://www.baztab.ir/news/48459.php Scroll down to see the banner
which reads as I translated.

* The reaction of the Iranian Spiritual leader Khamenei was: “We
don’t expect much from President Bush, but such assertions from a
figure as revered as the Pope are suprising and regrettable.” He
warned, however, that the Pope’s “mistaken” judgments should not
lead to animosity between Muslims and Christians.

* And now to the issue of Iranian nuclear technology. PLEASE
publicize this recent — and important — development particularly
to those who find the news about Iran’s nuclear technology
frightening. Last week, U.N. inspectors investigating Iran’s
nuclear program angrily complained to the Bush administration and
to a Republican congressman about a recent House committee report
on Iran’s capabilities, calling parts of the document “outrageous
and dishonest” and offering evidence to refute its central claims.
Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee, which had issued the report about Iran’s nuclear
capabilities, said his intent was “to help increase the American
public’s understanding of Iran as a threat.”  Privately, several
intelligence officials told the Washington Post that ” the
committee report included at least a dozen claims that were either
demonstrably wrong or impossible to substantiate.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/13/AR2006091302052.html?referrer=email

* On a much happier note, an Iranian American Anousheh Ansari
Co-founder and Chair Person of Prodea Systems, will be the first
Iranian-born and the first female Muslim in space. Anousheh was
born in Mashhad, Iran in 1966. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1984.
She has a masters degree in electrical engineering from George
Washington University. If you wish to read more about her, please
click on:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/sep/1167.html

Art and Culture: A Major Contemporary Poet and Painter

* Last week I promised not to focus on women’s achievements only.
Allow me to introduce you to a master poet and painter from 20th
century Iran: Sohrab Sepehri. Celebrated as a poet of peace and a
nature mystic, Sepehri has continued to be a major influence over
the past few decades. His works have formed a popular topic for
Persian scholarly studies while staying on the best-selling list.
Take a look at his short biography and scroll down to see some
paintings:
http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/ssepehri/sohrab_sepehri.php
And visit this site to see more paintings; you will find a
delightful self-portrait:
http://www.caroun.com/Literature/Iran/Poets/SohrabSepehri/SohrabSepehriContents.html

Suggested Reading: I wrote an article in 1997 which made extensive use
of Sepehri’s writing in the journal Religion & Literature with the title
The Call to Prayer from the Cypress Tree: Modernity and Redefining the
Spiritual in Persian Poetry
.”  The essay’s title is from a well-known
long poem by Sepehri, “The Footsteps of Water.”

* And now back to women! Nazila Fathi reported in New York Times in
2005 “The number of women who have published novels has reached
370… That is 13 times as many as a decade ago, the research
showed, and is about equal to the number for men today.” No
kidding.  I would like to introduce you to one of these great
writing talents Moniru Ravanipur.  Ravanipour is imaginative,
prolific, and outspoken. Her candid writing, interviews, and
public appearances draw large groups of men and women. A native of
southern Iran, Ravanipur lived in my hometown Shiraz for a long
time. Indeed our undergraduate studies coincided in Shiraz
University; she majored in Psychology and I in literature. Click here (Moniru Ravanipur) to get a picture and a short biography of Moniru Ravanipur.

Suggested Reading: Stories from Iran: a Chicago Anthology. For
bibliographical details and a list of authors included in the book,
please visit: http://www.mage.com/authors/anthology_biography.html

Visual Delight

* Since we are closing with my hometown Shiraz, let me invite you to
a slide show of a few of the gardens that the city is famous for
and their reflection in art and architecture. Just as buildings in
Isfahan are known for their blue tile work, in Shiraz wall
decorations consist of fine mirror work (literally hundreds of
fine mirror pieces covering the interior walls to reflect the
light). Click here (Shiraz Pictures) to see.  Enjoy!

Have a good week!
Fatemeh
========================
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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