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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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Iranian American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. She has also recently began playing the setar.

Iranian-American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. More recently, she has also began playing the Persian instrument setar (see below for more information).

Greetings everyone,

I hope you have all had a great weekend. Many thanks for all your kind notes and for joining the listserv. I received enthusiastic comments about the calligraphy exhibit that I sent in window number 9. I am glad you enjoyed them and will keep an eye open from more calligraphic works I can send.

As usual, please give me about two weeks to get back to you if you have any questions. If you send me a kind note of support or ideas for future windows, I might not be able to respond simply because of the volume of correspondence. Please forgive me. I do read all your e-mails with great interest. If you signed on during the past two days, you will get this window (and the previous windows, if you asked for them) with a day or two delay. Again, that is because it usually takes JoAnn and I a couple of days to process new requests.

Current Issues:

* I did not find Iran in the headlines (itself amazing news).
Instead, I attach an informative interview with Dr. Trita Parsi
the US-based scholar on Iran (and the current President of NIAC).
He talks about the position of Iranian politicians, the executive
powers of the Iranian President, and possibilities of diplomatic
solutions to the nuclear standoff, among other things:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1543504,00.html

Iranian Americans:

* The prominent Iranian American I would like to introduce to you
this week is again a musician. This is, in fact, one of the top
female classical guitar players in the world, Dr. Lily Afshar.
Born and raised in Iran, Lily Afshar completed her graduate work
in music at the Boston Conservatory. She has been teaching in
University of Memphis since 1989 and, at the same time, has been
performing internationally. More recently, she has started the
Persian instrument setar. To see a picture of Lily Afshar and read
about her achievements, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_Afshar
Isfahan Slide Show:

* As you can see I have not forgotten the slide show I promised last
week on the historic city of Isfahan. After I sent my slide show
on Shiraz, a friend wrote that he included the topic of Shiraz in
one of his lectures so he could share the slides with his
students. I hope you find the slides of Isfahan equally beautiful
and usable in the classroom. Just click here: Beautiful and Historic City of Isfahan, Iran.

Naqshe Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

A Major Contemporary Persian Ghazal Writer:

*Reference to Persian poetry usually evokes thought of classical figures such as Omar Khayyam, Hafez and Rumi. From time to time, the modern verse of Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlu and others of their generation becomes available in English. Twentieth century Iranian poets are known almost exclusively for their reformist tendencies that transformed classical genres into what Iranians now call ‘shi’re now,’ literally “new poetry.” In this poetry, figures such as Farrokhzad introduced wonderfully fresh ideas which were not considered fit for poetry before. In the poem “From darkness,” for example, Farrokhzad wrote:
I  called you
my whole being held in my hands
like a bowl of milk
the moon glanced blue on the panes

The fact that is almost entirely unknown outside Iran — because
very little translation has been done — is that twentieth century
Iran has great ghazal writers some comparable to Sa’di and Hafiz
only writing their ghazals in a new poetic language. Houshang
Ebtehaj with pen name Sayeh (b. 1927) is one such master poet. For
a recent photo of Ebtehaj during a poetry reading click on
http://saamhouse.co.uk/gallery/archives/000029.php#000029 . Despite
the imposing look, and his reputation as a poet with political and
social comittment, Ebtehaj has a vast quantity of gentle lyric
poetry in ghazal form (as well as many in modern poetry). To my
knowledge, there are no English translations of these ghazals. If
you read Persian click on
http://www.easypersian.com/houshang_ebtehaj/sineh_sardan.htm to
see a couple of the ghazals in Persian (and a short and basic
biography in English).

* On the topic of classical persian poetry, if you are interested in
reading stories from Firdowsi’s classical epic Shahnameh/The Book
of Kings
as comic books, click on:
http://www.hyperwerks.com/series/rostam_chara1.html (courtesy of
Ladan Foroughi).

Iranian Cinema:

* Iranian women’s most recent international achievements have
included the movie “Friday Evening,” Mona Zandi’s directional
debut, which won the special jury prize in Cologne film Festival
last week: http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1170.html.  In fact,
the festival dedicated an entire section to Iranian women film
makers. On the topic of cinema, another Iranian (this time male)
director Azizollah Hamidnejad won the Tegernsee Award for his film
“Tears of Cold” in the Mountain Film Festival held in Germany,
Oct. 18-22.

Visual Delight:

* I leave you with two oil paintings by the young painter Adel
Younesi. The theme of both is street side peddlers. I find them
both delightful: http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3474 and
another one on the same theme
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3473

Have a great 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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