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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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Windows on Iran 37

Some of the many Iranians that the recent American Peace delegation met on their visit to Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond Defender newspaper, the five-member "People's Peace Delegation to Iran" visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom (see below for more on their trip) (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

Hi All,

Earlier today I sent out a special window urging you to write to your
representatives in an attempt to stop our country from getting one
step closer to a war with Iran. Many of you wrote back within the hour
to let me know that you have shared the message with others. Thank
you.

With that, let us move on to Window on Iran number 37 which opens with
a good piece of news.

Major Iran/IAEA Agreement on Additional Measures on the Nuclear Issue

* The following news should be hailed as a significant diplomatic
success, a step toward cooling things down. On Tuesday Iran and the
UN Atomic Energy Agency agreed on a timetable for Tehran to clarify
outstanding concerns about its contested nuclear program, amid Western
threats of further UN sanctions. International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) deputy director general Olli Heinonen and top Iranian national
security official Javad Vaeedi announced the agreement after two days
of talks in Tehran. “We have now in front of us an agreed working
plan, how to implement it and we have a timeline for the
implementation. We talked about the details and the steps to be
taken,” said Heinonen. Here is the rest of the article if you like to
read (thanks Paul Appell for sharing this)
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/295302/1/.html

* The current U.S. administration, however, has so far acted as if it
never happened. The same week that Iran and IAEA signed the above
agreement, former CIA Director James Woolsey appeared on CNN with Lou
Dobbs to say an attack on Iran is a bad idea but allowing Iran to
obtain a nuclear weapon is worse. And in today’s New York Times
(August 29), Elaine Sciolino quoted unnamed officials from “Western
governments” describing the plan as a “new and dangerous strategy by
Iran to drag out the process.” Further down the article explains that
“Details of the timetable will be included in a report” that will be
released later. It is not clear how a plan that is not yet released,
that includes a clear timetable, and that has been described by the
IAEA officials as a “breakthrough” is faulted and branded as a
dangerous plan even before it is released.

Tell the Networks Not to Follow Fox

Why does the American news media not scrutinize significant news items
concerning Iran? Why, concerned friends such as Nadir Sadeqi and Matt
Miller ask in their e-mail messages, while the FOX news works on the
American public to convince them that war with Iran is the only
option, do the other networks not respond? All they need to do is
following the tradition of sound reporting. Christine Amanpour,  is
quoted to have said – concerning bad reporting on Iraq – that her
network was silenced and intimidated by FOX. On behalf of Nadir and
Matt, I share the following information with those of you who are
interested in telling the networks not to follow FOX down the road to
war: http://foxattacks.com/iran (or watch the video below)

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Is the War on Iran Still a Strong Possibility?

* Some argue that a war on Iran is not an option for practical reasons.
A fantastic piece on this is an interview that David Barsamian has
done with the renowned historian of contemporary Iran, Ervand
Abrahamian (City University, New York). The interview is short, very
perceptive, and readable. It has a very interesting title too: The
Mullahs Face Off: Washington Versus Tehran
(San Francisco, City
Light Books, 2007).

* Others are still very worried about the possibility. In his site
www.AntiWar.com, blogger Philip Giraldi writes: Anyone who doubts that the
war party is firmly focused on Iran need only take note of the Aug. 21
lead editorial in the Washington Post, which had the heading “Tougher
on Iran: The Revolutionary Guard is at war with the United States. Why
not fight back?” The Post, which regularly features neocons like
Charles Krauthammer on its editorial page, was a principal cheerleader
for the Iraq war. Giraldi criticizes the Post for accepting Washington
claims that Iranian special forces are in Iraq training the Shiite
militia. “Why is the U.S. army not been able to arrest a single one of
them or provide any evidence of this” is his question. It is a very
good question. I would add that this claim is not just refereeing to
an unsubstantiated hypothesis but a very unlikely one. Any number of
Iraqis who survived the rule of Saddam by taking refuge in Iran could
have been trained sufficiently to return and train their Iraqi country
men. But the point is not how logical or provable these claims are.
The point is the poisoning effect they have on the American public.
You can read the rest of Giraldi’s article at:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/giraldi.php?articleid=11509

American Peace Delegation to Iran

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of www.campaigniran.org).

A photo from the American Peace Delegation to Iran discussed below (image courtesy of http://www.campaigniran.org).

All right, we need a little antidote to offset the alarming bells of
war. Let me tell you about this delightful five person American
delegation who visited Iran this past July. Organized by Phil Wilayto
and sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network and The Richmond
Defender newspaper, the five-member “People’s Peace Delegation to
Iran” visited Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan and Qom, plus several
villages and towns. The Following are interesting excerpts from Phil
Wilayto’s interview with CASMII about the trip:

On our first day, in the capital city of Tehran, we attended the
Friday noontime prayer service at the University of Tehran. This is
the big weekly religious gathering for this metro area of some 14
million people, and around 10,000 men and women attend. We had heard
that they finish the service with a rousing chant of “Death to
America!” so we thought that would give us one cultural pole for the
trip. Actually, we were two hours into the program when we had to
leave, and still no anti-U.S. chants. So we had to settle for a lot of
warm smiles and handshakes.

Also, I’d like to anticipate the question, “But you probably only saw
what the government wanted you to see.” One evening in Qom – it was
about 9 p.m. – I walked to an Internet cafe to send an e-mail to
family members and friends back home. I stayed till 11 p.m., then got
lost on the walk back to the hotel. So there I was in the holy city of
Qom, lost – on the eve of a major national religious holiday, no less
– wandering the streets and trying unsuccessfully to change some
Iranian bills into coins so I could call our guide from a pay phone. I
wound up meeting two brothers, one of them a theology student. They
brought me back to the hotel in a taxi. So I was out on my own for
about three hours. Two other members of the delegation walked back one
evening to their hotel in Esfahan, and in 45 minutes they were stopped
by three groups of Iranians who wanted to talk with them. On the
streets and public places we talked with anyone we wanted. One
afternoon while driving from Esfahan to Qom we stopped by the side of
the highway and had tea with a family of goat herders. I learned to
smoke a hookah, or “hubble-bubble,” in a 5,000-year-old town about
4,000 feet up in the mountains. We photographed anything we wanted,
except military installations. I made a point of trying to speak with
people from as many social classes as possible. I’m not saying we
became experts on Iran, but I think we got a pretty fair look at the
country and its people.

Sean Penn’s Reference to Iran

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of www.payvand.com).

Sean Penn in Iran meeting with his industry colleagues in the Iranian film industry at the Cinematheque (PLEASE cick the link below to read his letter about Iran). (Image courtesy of http://www.payvand.com).

Actor/activist Sean Penn felt the same warmth visiting Iran in March.
Jaine Benson, one of my many friends through these windows, has
forwarded this very interesting letter which I had almost forgotten
about. Thanks Jaine. The letter is long and mostly focused on Iraq,
below I quote the paragraph on Iran which remains relevant today:

“You want to rattle sabers toward Iran now? Let me tell you something
about Iran, because I’ve been there and you haven’t. Iran is a great
country. A great country. Does it have its haters? You bet. Just like
the United States has its haters. Does it have a corrupt regime? You
bet. Just like the United States has a corrupt regime. Does it want a
nuclear weapon? Maybe. Do we have one? You bet. But the people of Iran
are great people. And if we give that corrupt leadership, (by
attacking Iran militarily) the opportunity to unify that great country
in hatred against us, we’ll have been giving up one of our most
promising future allies in decades. If you really know anything about
Iran, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Of course your
administration belittles diplomatic potential there, as those options
rely on a credibility and geopolitical influence that you have
aggressively squandered worldwide.” If you are interested in reading
the whole letter, here is the link:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-penn/an-open-letter-to-the-pre_b_44172.html


Mohsen Mostafavi, Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvards Graduate School of Architecture and Design.

Mohsen Mostafavi, prominent Iranian American, recently named new Dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

Iranian American Named Dean, Harvard School of Design

Mohsen Mostafavi, an international figure in the fields of architecture and urbanism, will become the dean of the Faculty of Design beginning in January 2008, President Drew Faust announced today (Aug. 10). The news was forwarded by my cousin Abe Massoudi, and my friend Farimah Companieh, thank you both! You can read more at:
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/08.23/99-gsdean.html

Iranian Women in Sports

Time for more fun and for seeing images from Iran which are almost impossible to see in the American media. It is rather unfortunate any negative news on Iranian women will make it to the front page here almost immediately. But images such as these are missing. Iranian Women Canoe Polo players in action:
http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article68

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Iranian women canoe polo players in action! (click the link above for more pictures).

Visual Delight

Last week I was showered with your loving messages about the wonderful
paintings of the Iranian Assyrian artist Hannibal Alkhas. Thank you! I
can’t agree  more. I’ll promise to make more slide shows of his
exhibits whenever new ones appear. This week, I bring you the works of
two Iranian women artists, Elham Nafisi Farr, a young and up-coming
painter and Mansoureh Hussaini a much more experienced
painter/calligrapher. Unfortunately, I did not find much personal
details on them except they are both graduates of Tehran School of
Fine Arts. Click here: Nafisi Farr-Hussaini painting.Enjoy!

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Far).

A beautiful painting by Mansoureh Husseini (click the link below for more paintings by her and also Elham Nafisi Farr).

Till 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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Woman voting in the Iranian elections of 2005. Contrary to statements made frequently in the mainstream U.S. media, women CAN vote in Iran starting at age sixteen.

A woman voting in the Iranian elections of 2005. Contrary to statements made frequently in the mainstream U.S. media, women CAN vote in Iran starting at the age sixteen.

Greetings to all.

Thanks again for your continued enthusiastic reception of these windows. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, friends, and students (or suggest names to be added to the list). Furthermore, I would be delighted with any suggestions you might have to make the material more useable in the classroom.

Two personal messages: first very special thanks to JoAnn Achelpohl whose effective management of the listserv enables me to keep it going
during the academic year. Second, if you did not get Window number 3 (or any in the sequence so far) it might be because your mail box was full
at the time that the message was sent. Please let me know and you will receive the window you missed. Now, to window number 4.

Current Issues:

* Mr. Ahmadinejad continues to be a media sensation here. While he
personally contributes to that, the exaggerations and inaccuracies
associated with him are quite remarkable. On Tuesday morning,
August 29, NPR 9 o’clock News played a part of what the audience
was to consider part of an Ahmadinejad heated speech in “defiance”
of the UN resolution. Here is what I heard the Iranian President
say in Persian: “They (I assume a general reference to the west)
say they would like to negotiate with us. Let them do so. We have
no problems with that at all!”  NPR needs a Persian speaker.
* CNN does not seem to have access to the Iranian constitution
either. Iranian women and men can vote from the age 16. Iranian
electoral participation in general elections is around 90% which
is very high compared to many other parts of the world. Now,
checkout the following cartoon posted on the CNN web site
(courtesy of Shadi Peterman who forwarded it to me):
http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/analysis/toons/2006/09/01/mikula/index.html

Cultural Social

* Interesting statistics: last week, my historian/sociologist
colleague Behrooz Ghamari (U. of Illinois) wrote “last year alone
more than 2000 titles in philosophy were published in Iran. Out of
these titles, 1321 were translated volumes and 992 written in
Farsi. This is a six fold increase from ten years ago when only
350 books in philosophy were published.”  Behrooz adds he wanted
to send this information to Tom Friedman who wished a while ago
that “Muslims” would also read the works of western philosophers!
* In this part, I have a “Gift” for you. This is the title of a
beautiful short poem by Forough Farrokhzad (1935-1967) one of the
most influential poets of the twentieth century Iran. I will
devote a special “window on Iran” to her and her achievements in
the future. In the meantime, let me give you this poem now because
the gift she is talking about is a “window” by which I think she
means openings in the walls of our unquestioned perceptions. This
is what inspired me to call these updates “windows” on Iran. I
have attached the poem “Gift” as a word document (\”The Gift\” by Farrokhzad). Enjoy!

Suggested Reading: Bride of Acacias: Selected Poems of Forough
Farrokhzad
. Tr. Jascha Kessler with Amin Banani (New York: Caravan
Books, 1982). I am not aware of new editions, so the best way to get the
book should be borrowing it from major libraries. Kessler/Banani
translations are – for the most part – excellent.

Visual Delights:

* This week I have many visual delights for you. The first is a
brief tour of three historic Persian churches, two in Isfahan and
one in Qazvin.   http://www.farsinet.com/iranchurches/
* And four sets of art exhibits by one of the most renowned
painters in present day Iran Hannibal Alkhas (b.1930). Son of an
acclaimed Assyrian writer Rabi Adi Alkhas, Hannibal and his family
belong to an Iranian Christian community, one of the oldest in the
world: the Assyrians. He studied art and philosophy in Iran and
the U.S. and, after extended periods of living in either country,
returned to Iran where he has been teaching in the department of
fine arts in Azad University since 1992. Hannibal’s exhibits draw
large crowds in Iran and he teaches private classes. I personally
had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Alkhas in my “Introduction to
Islamic Civilization” in 1997 where he showed slides of his works
and spoke about the place of visual arts in Persian culture.
Contemporary Iranian writers form a central theme in the paintings
of Hannibal Alkhas. In June 1999, he devoted the following exhibit
to Nima Youshij, the father of modern Persian Poetry:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=26 and a year later one to
Forough Farrokhzad http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=25
Just to see the diversity of Hannibal’s work, visit his 2003
outdoor sculpture exhibit on the theme of birds:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=27 and one of his latest
painting exhibits:   http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=24

I hope you have enjoyed Window number 4.  Let me end with One More
Suggested Reading on contemporary Iranian history: Iran Between Two
Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian
(Princeton U. Press).

Have a great weekend.

Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, 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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