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Tehran at night.

Tehran at night (image courtesy of Arash Hamidi http://www.hamidi.ir).

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have all had a very nice holiday break and are ready for
2007. Thanks again for all your kind messages after window number 16.
I have finally managed to catch up with e-mail responding to your
personal messages. Please note that there was an unusually high volume
of bounced messages as Window number 16 was sent out to the list. This
may be due to full mail boxes over the holidays. If you did not
receive Window on Iran – 16, and would like to have it,  please write
a short note in response to this message and we will resend that
window to you.

Before we get to our  current issues which usually focuses on
conflict, I would like to share two beautiful seasonal images from
Iran:

Iranian Christians praying in a Tehran church on Christmas (image courtesy of www.iranian.com).

Iranian Christians praying in a Tehran church on Christmas (image courtesy of http://www.iranian.com).

To see some neat pictures of Iranian Christians celebrating this past Christmas in Iran click on:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jan/1006.html
Also, I have attached a very short slide show – about ten slides – of winter images from the famous Dizin ski resort in Iran. The photos are by Shahrokh Setudeh. Click here: The famous Dizin Ski Resort in Tehran. Enjoy.

Current Issues

Following American’s recent announcement of its readiness to deal with outside interference in Iraq (interesting language to use by a country which has sent its own forces about 10,000 miles to solve Iraqi inner problems), the American security forces kidnapped five Iranian nationals in the city of Erbil in Iraq early last Wednesday morning. These unnamed officials called “diplomats” by the Iranian government and “operatives” by the Americans are still in custody. So far, nothing other than a few local maps has been declared to be found on these individuals.
Iranian News sites reflect widespread criticism of Ahmadinejad’s
inflexible diplomacy on the developing Iranian nuclear industry amidst speculations that enrichment activity has been suspended at least in the Natanz site.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070113/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_nuclear_diplomacy

A major poll in Iran confirms that Ahmadinejad’s popularity is falling
dramatically since his election in June 2005. When asked “If the
elections were held today, what would be the chances of his election
to the office, 76.1% said “much less,” and 15% said “less.” Only 5%
said he would have a chance of getting re-elected. The total number of
respondents was over 43,000, a significant number in itself.

Sunday Times has revealed frightening plans of a possible Israeli
nuclear attack on Iran. The level of anxiety among the Iranians in the
country, and Iranian Americans in the U.S. is beyond description. All
we can do is hope and pray that a new Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not
in the making: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2535310,00.html

I received Robert Fisk’s article on Saddam’s execution from two
friends Bahar Hashemi and Adam Shriver. My general policy is not to
include in the Windows issues which are not directly relevant to Iran.
Here are some Iran-related excerpts from this article particularly
informative to Americans who wonder about anti-American feelings in
the region. These unfriendly feelings are often attributed to
religious hatred for western freedom. Fisk’s article describes a small
portion of what America signifies to many Iranians. On the American
support for the Iraqi attacks on Iran (1980-1988), Fisk quotes a
German arms dealer:

“Mr Fisk… at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I
was invited to go to the Pentagon,” he said. “There I was handed the
very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You
could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun
emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches
on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments –
thousands of them – all the way up the Iranian side of the border
towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I traveled
with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt
on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very
grateful!”
According to Mr. Fisk “the terrible cocktail” of nerve gas and mustard
gas used freely on Iranians and Kurds by the Iraqi dictator was also
“given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians
were right.” The most moving is Mr. Fisk’s personal encounter with
Iranian soldiers affected by these chemicals. I apologize for the
graphic nature: “I saw the results, however. On a long military
hospital train back to Tehran from the battle front, I found hundreds
of Iranian soldiers coughing blood and mucus from their lungs – the
very carriages stank so much of gas that I had to open the windows –
and their arms and faces were covered with boils.”  Rober Fisks full
article was published in the London Independent, in case you are
interested  http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2114403.ece

More Visual Delight

All right, time for some nice friendly visual contact. Many of you
have told me that you like the visual information coming through these
windows. I think I have given you enough of historical monuments for a
while.  So, here is a power point slide show of just faces and places
in the city of Tehran. Just click here: The city and people of Tehran.

On that note, I wish you all a great week — and a great start to the
spring semester if you are in the academia. Again, please let me know
if you did not receive Window on Iran – 16.

Till the next Window, stay healthy and warm.

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 16

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim www.iranian.com).

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Greetings! And Happy New Year!

Time to open a new window on Iran. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday so far. Thank you so much for all your kind messages concerning window number 15.  A combination of end of the semester duties and holiday activities have prevented me from writing
individual thank you notes.  I am most appreciative of all your responses. Please note that all the recent requests to be added to the listserv will be taken care of in the coming week.

I would like to indulge in a little holiday self promotion with a good
news!  My latest book –  a study of contemporary Persian poetry – was
just named “an outstanding academic title for the year 2006” by the
ALA’s review journal for academic and research libraries known as the
Choice Magazine. A wonderful Christmas present! The list is a small
percentage of approximately 7,000 titles. Here is the full
bibliographic information on the book:

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Recite in the Name of the Red Rose: Poetic Sacred
Making in 20th Century Iran (University of South Carolina Press,
2006).

Visual Delight:

Before we get into the special report that I have for you about the
very important mid-term elections in Iran, I want to give you my
Christmas gift. This is a power point slide show of a 19th century
private house, the Tabatabai House and a 17th century Safavid garden
called the Fin Garden in the city of Kashan, a central city with a
population of about 300,000. The main portion of the slides were
circulated by my friend Bahar Bastani. In case you want to use this in
class, the show has about 30 slides with a six second transition time
between slides. Just click on here: Fin Garden and the Tabatabai House in the City of Kashan.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Current Issues:

Iranian mid-term elections

Two weeks ago, the Iranian electorate made a clear statement in the
mid term elections in which reformists received 40%, the moderate
conservatives 24%, and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad about 3%
of the vote. The rest of the seats went to independent candidates. Of
the 15 seat up for grab in the Expert Assembly, only one went to his
supporters. This despite the fact that the reformists have objected to
accuracy of the counting process and want a recount of 10 ballot boxes
in each city to demonstrate that the overall pattern of the results
was more in their favor.  Since the main stream American media gave
minimal coverage to this very significant event (although it happened
in a country they are too eager to call the most dangerous country in
the world) I would like to give you some important details:

Among the features of this mid-term election was the prominence of
women in urban as well as rural settings. In my home town Shiraz the
top candidate was a 27 year old female architecture student, Fatemeh
Houshmand . In some cities like Qazvin and Hamadan, the top candidate
as well as 50% of the total elected members were women.

In an editorial for the online political newsletter CounterPunch my
friend Behrooz Ghamari wrote:  “Had this election occurred in an
allied country of the United States, it would have been celebrated as
the highest achievement of American foreign policy.”

What is most unfortunately masked from the American general public is
the maturity and thoughtfulness of the Iranian voter who did not allow
outside pressures on Iran to get translated into an exaggerated
“patriotism” in favor of the current regime. Here are examples of what
some voters said:

– “There is no room to breathe freely, Iran’s international
credibility and respect is diminishing, and we hope that we are not on
a path to war, I voted to change this direction.”
– “I voted to prove that our true desire is to transform this system,
and to show that we don’t need American democracy.”
-“I want to know, in which other country in the world do they have
carnivals on the streets and the artists and celebrities go to
neighborhoods to encourage people to participate?”
– a  young voter from Shiraz called the election a “velvet revolution”
that will strengthen “local decision making and non-governmental
organizations.”

To read Behrooz’s full editorial, click on:
http://www.counterpunch.org/ghamari12182006.html

Iranian Diplomats Arrested in Iraq:

Last week the U.S. defense officials declared the arrest of four
Iranian diplomats in Iraq. Two were released right away. The captured
Iranians – who were not named – were supposed to be carrying all kinds
of sensitive lists and documents pertaining to shipments of weapons
into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among
other sensitive intelligence information. No evidence has been
provided by American officials who are apparently unhappy at the
release of the last two diplomats. The story itself seems somewhat
shaky as the “highly sensitive” information claimed to be carried by
these officials can easily be transmitted electronically – or by two
inconspicuous Iraqi citizens – with much less risk.

According to the Iranian version of the story, the arrested people
were diplomats visiting as guests of the Iraqi President – which
explains why he was agitated at the incident. They were arrested
attending a funeral in the house of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, an Iraqi
Shiite leader. According to this version, these people were released
because none of the claimed documents were found on them.

Iranian Women conducting a 1,000,000 signature Campaign

To reform gender related legal codes in Iran, young Iranian women
activists have started a signature collection campaign. They go door
to door, speak to people about women’s rights, and collect signatures
in support of the reforms which they seek. The innovative nature of
the move and passionate persistence of these young and energetic
feminists have earned them support from the Iranian public and shocked
the opposition. Please publicize this movement to friends who can get
on line and support them. My friend, women’s studies scholar and
activist, Nayereh Tohidi has written about the 1,000,000 signature
campaign:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/dec/1174.html

On this very bright note, I wish you all a very happy 2007,
and 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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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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